Learning fieldbus, developing talent

A knowledge of Fieldbus and a willingness to educate or re-train workers looking to get into skilled automation could go a long way in developing long-term benefits for the manufacturing industry.


According to an engineer I once quoted: “A technology is ‘open’ if the development specification is published and readily available to anyone who wants it. Those who wish to do so can develop a product that is compatible with the technology. Open does not mean that everything connects freely to everything else; it means that within a defined set of rules, anyone that wants to can make products that are compatible with anyone else’s products as long as they conform to the same set of rules.”

FOUNDATION Fieldbus is one of the technologies that claim to be open and nonproprietary. The Foundation was established in September 1994 by a merger of WorldFIP North America and the Interoperable Systems Project. 

In this issue’s cover story, Fieldbus Foundation’s Larry O’Brien (formerly research director for process automation at ARC Advisory Group) offers advice for first-time FOUNDATION Fieldbus users. O’Brien emphasizes the importance of fully understanding the requirements before embarking on a fieldbus project. He also stresses the differences between conventional and FOUNDATION Fieldbus projects. 

In the second story, Mike Gavin, director of performance excellence at MAVERICK Technologies, writes about the shortage of skilled automation professionals in the U.S. and how to reverse the trend. Gavin said, “Reversing this decline requires a thorough understanding of the underlying causes: loss of our current talent base and a lack of an established way to correct it.”

According to Gavin, developing automation talent in-house is one way to remedy the automation skills gap. Using ISA and MAVERICK University as examples, Gavin suggests that companies can begin to develop their own automation talent by applying industry best practices to the process of learning, while avoiding the pitfalls.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.