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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Maintenance Management Training Online

Maintenance Management Training Online

A visitor to the discussion group asked ...
Where can I get maintenance management training online (and skills)?

Thought I would share my reply ...
Others have mentioned great resources for scholastic knowledge, certs, etc. (I would add So I'll just address the 'skill' part the question. For that you need real world knowledge and experience, which getting online can be a challenge. The first resource I would like to recommend is a free 3 day seminar on youtube at This seminar differs from the typical text book knowledge as it is the 21st century cutting edge approach. (print books can be a few or several years old, and the world progresses/changes a lot quicker than that now days. :)
Maintenance Management Training/Skills via Online resorces
Also when people think "online" they think internet connection required. We don't, so here are some of the best resources you can download, use on your own time, anytime, anywhere. (no internet connection required once you download) ...

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Industrial Communication Protocol Comparison

Beginning to understand Industrial Communications Protocols

Protocols is a communication language between systems/devices. Just like different countries have different languages, different device groups have different languages. If you were in spain you could get by knowing only english, but you would be more efficient and effective if you used spanish language. 

Communicating computer to computer is different than communicating PLC to PLC, which is different than communicating between a PLC and a smart sensor. Lets take the two extremes, difference between computers and smart sensors. Computers require a lot more information communicated, more security, typically sit in a office. Smart sensors require less, and typically are out in the field or an industrial type environment. So HART has attributes hard&soft designed specifically for the devices it serves. 

Yes, you could use RS232, but it would be slower, have distance restrictions, etc. so you pick the protocol that best fits your specific system. If you were using Allen Bradley (AB) equipment primarily, you may chose ControlNet and/or DeviceNet because they were designed by AB, so most likely best suited for their systems and devices. (More efficient and effective) 

Another example, HART was designed to communicate over a sensor's 2-40ma signal, you may chose it if you need to interface with old systems. For a new system, you would rather use the new Fieldbus protocol (Profibus DP/PA with better diagnostics). Mostly AB in one new facility? ... you may chose DeviceNet which is based on Fieldbus. 

Because protocols can be layered, linked, derived from another protocol, I understand it can get confusing. Just like someone in one country may speak two different languages, and within that single country, different dialects. Your best bet is to use the internet to study all the industrial communication protocols. See for a start with your Industrial Communication Protocol Comparison. 

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Control Panel Design Guide

Control Panel Design Guide


I had "Control Panel Design With Maintenance in Mind" published in Control Design Magazine this month, but there wasn't room to include the rest of the article I wrote. Please read the article by following the link above, then read below for 'the rest of the story'...
I will elaborate on another example we stress in our PLC training classes, PLC Forces. NFPA 70E instructs “Design to Accommodate Maintenance” which emphasizes design considering the safety aspects of conducting inspections, tests, repairs, and servicing. Placing a force on real world I/O in the PLC is a safety issue, and causes the equipment to operate other than designed. It is critical for maintenance to be aware if forces are installed, and what those forces are, before working with equipment. At minimum, the warning indicator needs to be mirrored on the outside the panel (lamp and/or HMI) to increase the likelihood of being noticed. For safety, and liability reasons, I would go even further, requiring the logging of all force activity possible within the machines controller.

Making your electrical control panels more maintenance friendly is a constant improvement process. Equipment manufactures need to have a more visible path for customer’s recommendations to get back to designers. With today’s technology there are many ways to establish a feedback loop. Many companies are successfully utilizing social media as a functional and reliable feedback loop today. As a result, there really are no excuses for manufacturers of electrical control panels to sacrifice customer maintainability in favor of ease of design anymore.

Author: Don Fitchett is president of Business Industrial Network (, an industrial training company. Don also founded the activity based costing system called "True Downtime Cost" (TDC) , author "True Downtime Cost Analysis - 2nd Edition". Don has been in the industrial training sector for over two decades.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Maintenance Management Objectives

Maintenance Management Objectives.

A little extra maintenance focus and perspective...

Industrial maintenance management objectives
Industrial Maintenance Management  Objectives
Share with others to insure they are aligned. A friendly reminder.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

PLC Networking Wifi

PLC Networking Basics with WiFi

A classroom only project using WiFi, a Controllogix PLC/PAC and classroom laptops.

The video above is the first of four interactive youtube mini course project of networking five classroom laptops to one Controllogix PAC. (PAC=Process Automation Controller, also known as an advanced PLC) This experimental video course below titled "PLC Networking Basics Controllogix" has an associated free powerpoint and a free online assessment.

I would appreciate your feedback, if you like it or not? If the topic is not up your alley, maybe you have a friend or associate who has interest in automation, PLCs or just beginning in the trade that you can share this with. Your feedback will help me decide if we would be wasting of our time or not in creating more free interactive training youtube courses.

4 YouTube videos starting at []
Powerpoint is at []
Online assessment is at

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

HP Brings Back Windows 7

HP brings back Windows 7

(Users unhappy with Windows 8)

What ever results you see or hypothesize for ordinary consumers accepting Win8, industrial users will be a thousand times less. Many industrial technology users still keep a laptop with XP on it. This is because the software they need to use to interface with 10 year old, or older equipment only works on XP or is too expensive to upgrade all the many vendor's software. So in the common industrial scenario, switching to just Win7 can cost a manufacturer thousands in downtime, let alone trying Win8. Not to mention the industrial sector's concerns about cloud computing security and internet dependency.

The consumer market appears to be much more accepting of new operating systems because learning curves and compatibility issues just cost them a little time and inconvenience, not thousands in downtime. Plus many just switch because that is what is on new computer they bought, not because they wanted to change to Win8. Until now, now that HP gives customer's Win 7 on many of their computers.

I'll give you an industrial technology example. If a manufacturing plant only has legacy PLCs from 10 years ago or more in their plant, if they decided to upgrade their laptop to Win7 or Win8 , they would have to go out buy new PLC vendor software to access their machines (PLCs). That could cost them an additional $2000 or more just for the initial cost, then they would need an annual subscription to that new PLC/PAC software. Then they would have to deal with learning curve of new Win8, and of new PLC access software, AND new bugs. These two things would slow their time using new OS and PLC/PAC software, cause longer physical downtime of equipment which would cost them even more thousands of dollars. Or they could keep their old computer with XP and save from $3000 to $300,000. Other old equipment vendors may not even have their automation equipment software available in Win 7 or Win 8. So we always advise industrial maintenance to keep an old XP laptop around just for maintenance department and working with industrial equipment.

Smart companies like HP computers are offering their computers with Win7 instead of Win8. The bottom line, because of the bottom line, industry is slow to change on this issue. And rightfully so.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Years 2014

Hope you all have a great new year with lots of training.