Part 2 of Software Standardization for OEMs

Software Standardization for OEMs is a series of articles that explains, in a step-by-step way, how OEMs can standardize their automation software.

In the first part of the series, I introduced the concept of software standardization and explained the value of standardization for OEMs. If you missed that part of the series, you can find it here.

In this part of the series, I will explain how you can analyze current and past machines to identify standard software modules that can be used across many projects.

After identifying standard modules, we will go through the process of writing requirements for…


AKA The reality of entrepreneurship that I wish someone told me before I started

Photo by Justin Schwartfigure on Unsplash

I, like many new entrepreneurs, was fed up with my day job. I was working for a company that didn’t seem to value me and doing a job that I didn’t fully enjoy.

This year, I made the big jump from employee to entrepreneur. I can happily report that my business, KB Controls, is up and running with our first long-term project with a client.

Although there’s a lot of content online about starting a business, I found a lot of it lacking. I found content that covered the mindset you need for entrepreneurship. I found content that covered the…


Part 1 of Software Standardization for OEMs

This post originally appeared on KB Controls. See the original post here.

Standardization in general refers to the harmonization of interfaces, dimensions, and procedures.

In the context of software, standardization refers to the creation of reusable software objects with defined interfaces and an architecture that enables the use of standardized software modules across many projects.

If that definition sounds a bit abstract, don’t worry — throughout this series, we’ll be looking at concrete examples of how to apply the standardization process to a robotic palletizer cell. As we work through this example, the concept of standardization will become more clear.


How Reducing Engineering and Commissioning Costs Can Dramatically Impact Your Profitability

This post originally appeared on KB Controls. You can view the original post here.

Machine builders and OEMs are some of the most cost-conscious customers that I have ever worked with.

That was true when I worked with OEMs as a Commercial Engineer at Hanley Automation, helping OEMs to select the best hardware for their machines, and it's still true today when I consult with OEMs, helping them to reduce their costs and improve their profitability.

Of course, I can understand why OEMs are so focused on cost. In a competitive environment, customers expect machines that deliver more value at…


An honest look at the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The majority of businesses fail in their first 5 years of operating.

Many of the businesses that survive their first 5 years, plateau at a mediocre level. They never grow to be successful or impactful. Instead, they generate just enough revenue to provide the owner with a modest income.

The owners of these businesses don’t really own a business, they own a job. In fact, these owners would be better off finding a job in their industry — they could work fewer hours, earn more money, and lead a less stressful life.

But some business owners seem to have it…


Thoughts on the value of a well-structured engineering team for engineering managers.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

In my experience working on engineering and project teams, a well-defined structure is the key to clear communication, and clear communication is the key to success.

In groups and teams of any size, a vague or poorly designed structure leads to confusion about responsibilities and expectations, lack of coordination across functions, and slow, broken decision making in the group. All of these things combine to create unnecessary complexity, stress, and conflict in groups and teams.

A good organizational structure defines the flow of communication amongst teams and helps engineers to understand how responsibilities are laid out.

If you are like…


A first look at the Project Trace function available in TIA Portal v16

Project Trace in TIA Portal v16

One of the most exciting new features available in Siemens TIA Portal version 16 is the Project Trace function. Using the Project Trace function, it’s possible to create a single trace diagram with tags from multiple PLCs and devices. This is a powerful way to troubleshoot the interface between devices in a project.

In this article, we’ll look at how to set up and use the Project Trace in TIA Portal.

Setting Up the Project Trace

In this demo, I’ll set up a Project Trace to record the values of tags in two S7–1500 PLCs.

In TIA Portal, I’ve created a new project with two…


How engineering managers can empower their teams to create more value and reduce costs with systems, standards, and automations

This post originally appeared on KB Controls. You can view the original post here.

Systematization is the key to OEMs growing their businesses profitably. Using systematization, OEMs can scale their businesses using technology, instead of larger teams and overtime. By scaling with technology, OEMs increase their capacity and their profit margins.

In this article, we’ll explore what systematization means and how engineering managers can introduce systems, standards, and automations to their teams to reduce the effort involved in executing projects.

The Current Situation


A first look at how to use the S7–1500 Web API to interact with a CPU using JSON RPC2.0 and HTTP Requests

As of firmware version 2.8, the S7–1500’s web server is expanded to include a new ‘Web API’. This Web API allows an authenticated user to interact with the CPU via a web application. Using the Web API, a user can;

  • Read and write CPU data
  • Execute functions such as backing up the CPU configuration or changing the operating mode

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of the new Web API and look at a demo of the Web API working with an S7–1500 Controller

Benefits of the New Web API

The most powerful aspect of the new Web API is that it uses JSON RPC2.0


C# From Scratch Part 3.0

Welcome to another part of the series C# From Scratch, a course dedicated to teaching you everything you need to know to be productive with the C# programming language.

In the previous part of the series, we learned how to make our application interactive — the output of the application varies depending on the input provided by the user. If you missed it, that part of the series is available here.

While updating the application, we introduced a small bug — the application now crashes if the user fails to provide the correct input. …

Ken Bourke

Automation Engineer, Technology Enthusiast, Freelance/Consulting. Official website: https://www.kb-controls.io/

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