Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is a PLC?

What is a PLC?

What is a PLC? (Programmable Logic controller tutorial)

The video below is designed to give the most simple understanding of what is a PLC and and what a PLC does. Great to share with High Schoolers, engineers not in an automation control field, or in management. For those just learning of a PLC, should you want training, come highly recomended. If you or your employees have PLC training needs, see the left hand menu of PLC Training options at the above site.

Also if you have already started the journey to becoming a PLC expert, instrumentation and controls technician or automation controls professional and want to see what courses and in what order you should take to meet your objectives, please see

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

What is Thermography

What is thermography?

Below is one of many infrared thermography videos from the YouTube channel Please subscribe and then share the above channel with others so more will see the many applications of infrared thermography. Example videos from building and home energy surveys, to medical applications to reliability maintenance.

With Infrared Thermography, you can see through things and predict the future! How cool is that?
(Predictive Maintenance, PdM)

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

PLC Programming

PLC Programming:

PLC Structured Text or Ladder Logic?

To answer the common PLC programming question...

Should I use Ladder Logic or Structured Text in my PLC Programming?
PLC Programming
 I like to simplify, so I use a arbitrary percentage. 95% of the world uses ladder logic in PLCs. Out of the 5% left, some use structured text. With introduction of PACs about 10 years ago, the 1-3% who are using structured text, is growing.

Just like PACs have a greater life cycle cost to the end user when compared to PLCs, so does using structured text instead of ladder logic. It like Dick Morley (The Father of PLCs) was telling me one day, the more complicated, the less reliable. This statement is not just in reference to the reliability of design, electronics, or even mechanics, it is in reference to Total Ownership Cost (TOC) over the lifetime of equipment. (Increased training cost due to complicity, increased mistakes due to complicity, greater downtime, more complicated to troubleshoot, more calls and wait time for external support, etc. etc.)

The bottom line is a company should weigh the benefits with the TOC for the system lifecycle. Thus the majority use ladder logic.

It is a Technology lesson society has already learned in the past with computers. Back when computer memory and processing speed were limited, we had to use machine language, then moved on to fortran, basic. Eventually memory and processing speed technology advanced enough, we could use a programming language that was more friendly towards human, easier to learn and work with, visual basics.

The same is true with PLCs. The PLC5 was based on an octal numbering system. But eventual memory and processing speed advanced enough, the more human friendly decimal numbering system could be used. Visual is always better for human interaction than numbers and computer code. So if you know a human will have to understand and work with it at some point in the future, make it simple and more user friendly for the widest audience you can.

When I was in school, because of memory/speed limitations, who ever wrote their code the shortest and the quickest won. Now we teach, who ever writes their code the most simple and user friendly wins. Because PLCs now days and especially PACs have more memory/speed than 95% of all applications need. (The other 5% are exceptions to the rule like two high speed machines needing to communicate and react on each other's live data.) To learn more best practices, see PLC Training at BIN95

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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

US Manufacturing Jobs Chart

2014 US Manufacturing

(2nd Quarter)
The BCG report/Manufacturing chart below shows we are a third of the way in recovering US manufacturing jobs lost during the great recession.
"While manufacturing jobs saw significant gains over the past three months, manufacturing has only recovered about 30 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession."

US Manufacturing Jobs Chart

The BCG report found by clicking US Manufacturing chart above to its end, goes on to report low US manufacturing jobs wage will slow US manufacturing growth. As it logically states
"...why would workers spend time in training programs for advanced jobs that do not pay adequately"? 
The report also shows that US manufacturing jobs future can be bright if US policy makers invest in in infrastructure and "enforce trade agreements and eliminate currency manipulation, which will give U.S. manufacturers a fair opportunity to compete on the global market."

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

PLC Simulator

PLC Simulator

PLC Training before PLC Simulator

PLC Training

PLC Simulator

PLC Training emulator
First get RSLogix 500 based 
  PLC Training Course
Then move on to 
LogixPro PLC Simulator Tool

For the beginner to PLC training, you do not want to start out with the LogixPro PLC simulator. You should first get some basic PLC training and familiarization with RSLogix 500 which is what the LogixPro PLC simulator simulates.

Then you are better prepared to start working with the PLC simulator CD. The PLC training solution at link below takes that into account by providing them both as a 2 CD set.

You purchase the the "PLCTrainer" (1st CD for $159) which will teach you basics of PLCs while using a RSLogix 500 emulator. Then you are ready to move on to the 2nd free LogixPro CD that comes with it. This 2 CD approach is so you know how write ladder logic first, because the LogixPro PLC simulator doesn't teach you how to, it is just a tool to practice what you learned with the first CD.

Yes, there are free PLC training resources out there, but you get what you pay for. When there is potential damage to man or machine, you invest a little in your self and your company to protect both from the risk.

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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mobile Industrial Workstation to Smartphone

Mobile Industrial Workstation to Smartphone

maintenance and engineering training mobile website
Maint. & Engineering Mobile Website
There is130+ million smartphone users in the US alone. This is the year that more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online. Similar trends are echoing in the Industrial workplace. From the mobile industrial workstation to the smartphone, mobile maintenance downloads for CMMS, mobile engineering apps and the smartphone industrial applications go on. The following advice is useful to those designing mobile website to be used in an industrial industry and for those designing a company website for a mobile phone. Given the statistics and facts above, you should be designing a truly mobile friendly website, one that scores well in the world standard W3 mobile validator.

Looking at mobile friendly web design deeper and further... If you are marketing globally, there are 2 more very important aspects you should consider ...

  1. Mobile Bandwidth  
  2. Mobile Compatibility 

Our Industrial Training website with its 100s of pages has grown too large over the last 20 years to cost effectively redesign the whole site to be [Truly] Mobile Friendly. So we went with the option to design a website just for our mobile users

The goal here was to design a mini mobile site that scores high on the world standard W3 Mobile Friendly Validator, so it complies with the 2 objectives above of being quick to download to phone, and works with even low cost smartphones like might be used in under developed industrialized countries.

Our current scores an 82% on the W3 mobile Freindly validator and provides us a great template in which to build on. (add pages and training)

Side Note: Many say they design or have a mobile friendly website, but they score a zero on the W3 validator. They are not [truly] mobile friendly. Many are just CMS like wordpress sites, which have way too much hidden source code to ever be considered "Mobile Friendly". Yes, they may look fine on your iPhone 5 or Android/Samsung Galaxy S5, but be too slow or less functional for the millions who have less expensive or older smartphones. So be aware.

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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Plant Process Operator Training

Plant Process Operator Training

PdM measurements as operator training too.

Take your equipment operators in the process and manufacturing industries to the next level...

assisting maintenance in the troubleshooting of automated production equipment .

For machine operators to become more familiar with automated production equipment and troubleshooting, we recommend the following basics in order listed ...

After all the above recommended operator training courses, they will be ready to be trained in taking PdM measurements too, as the next phase in your autonomous operator training program.

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

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!