Pragmatic 3: Turn The Damn Light Off

7 December, 2013


Today’s show focuses on the history of industrial control and automation systems, and the growing potential of automation in the home.

Transcript available
This is pragmatic weekly discussion show contemplating the practical application of technology we look at how greed ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives nothing is as simple as it seems I'm Ben Alexander and I cohosted John Geagea a generator I am very well thank you Ben Heydon it's a beautiful Ohio morning I had some yes I'd say it's a lovely summer evening here that are in any case arm again I'd like to start by saying something used to are several people that have said some very nice things about this are that the show so far I apologise if I mispronounced your name arm Jamie Ryan of course I have that name down pat thank you Jamie are Diego Petrucci I think it is thank you very much and also our Brad Fortin thingies and an extra special thank you to Mike I work a Worsley I think it is a word link so sorry from angle that are and he wrote a lovely piece are on his blog about are about show on a site and are that site if you're curious it has mentioning stuff that is our oh PTE.CH so imagine tech but with a.are suffering CH at the end arm all of the downloads that we been getting has really arm put our foot pragmatic are essentially higher up than in the 19's chance that I actually thought it would do would happen early days but are we currently sitting number one Todd Carson technology gadgets and number five in top podcast for technology arm there also showing us on the front page as well when you first login and look at any pod casts as our new and noteworthy so thank you to everybody who has downloaded the show and who has listened to it really appreciated and dumb thank you so much if you like living a review feel free that star in any case is what to say thank you before we got started you seen here Itzhak is in a while the last couple days you're yet has been and without further ado onto the main topic for this episode and the main topic this episode is automation so automation is essentially going really simplistic here you want to be able to free up people from performing certain tasks the purpose of automation is that you can get a machine to do it you can build a machine to take over a manual task so there is really to please you break it down into your breakdown into the devices that actuate and that is to say they they move and manipulate the real world and then you got the controller so need to talk about them so separately and little history lesson as well just just a sort of get everyone's head in the right space so first of all I think in terms of digital controls and's and so on a digital communications that the simplest most fundamental controlling device is actually a relay and not a matter relay race of course no matter relay and a relay and Strathy Kay describe relay is essentially an electromagnet so anyone current through a coil it creates a magnetic field and you do all those coils in same direction one smaller together you get a strong magnetic field so if you've got a Ferris material that are ferromagnetic of same material and what you can then do is you can run current through the coil and it can physically move our switch same concept behind a solenoid essentially relays a solenoid but where relay is different is that the thing is switching is in itself another switch out like a light switch but without the physical but not so it can turn things on and off so for example you'll have a common connection and you'll have a normally open and normally close connection and when you throw the relay power relay up it'll switch from one to the other so in its non-energised state there is no current lines were coil though magnetic field doesn't exist the spring loading will return the relay to its normal position sofas are normally open relay normally open contacts that it will go from conduct the connection will be from the common white across to the normally open once you drive current through the coil it will it will pull that towards the coil and that will close it to the normally close contact and that essentially is how is a relay on the point of a relay is that you separate to circuits so on the one side of the coil side you can have whatever voltage one 2412 V 6 V 240 V hundred and 10 loss of matter AC coil DC coil different no different sort of subtly different design that doesn't matter we talk about Paris on episode two so the point is that whatever you on on the inputs on the coil side you have whatever you want on the other side of it on the actual side your switching so you can literally use a sweater user relay to convert a signal from 24 V DC up to a thousand volt AC if you want to and that idea it if it is not perhaps immediately obvious but it was actually invented are and what you know how things sometimes are invented are approximately the same time in history rate and especially when you go back beyond the time at which we had I guess what it I guess maybe very very fast ubiquitous communication so right now if I had sent an email you sent an email to have a time stamp on it will be relative to UTC and you tell exactly who sent what first the path of talk and all information again obviously that was not was the case so you go back to the Wright brothers and is an argument over who invented the first powered our aeroplane and then you go back to who invented the first car and back in those days where communication was not like that at all you'd hear a story are some guy in some other country property haven't her novel that have been to invented something just like what you did whilst I was the case of the memory I saw two guys are Joseph Henry or Edward Davey so they both had they both claim to validly relay in 1835 but in the end is now hey does it really matter someone via the relay and it was a great idea it was originally developed and employed at great length I would say in the 1840s which is the dawn of Morse code Telegraph so essentially what this did was allowed someone one end using a very low voltage to basically so oppressed our key and it would close a circuit that would drive a relay which high-voltage and that high-voltage travel along the telegraph lines on the other end it would do the reverse process was that the high-voltage down to a lower voltage there be booster stations along the way but had interposing relays to give it a kick as it went along and that essentially was the main driving all I suppose it was one of those things I am it's not clear history does not illustrate conclusively which came first but I imagine that it was more that the realised popularity are it was used in the telegraph for Morse code for communication over long distances and that drove the fast adoption and recognition of what how useful the relay was funny thing about relay so is that they really haven't changed a hell of a lot since then are they really haven't but they are the fundamental building block of most of the control systems and even today relays are present in pretty much every control system that you would get a look at sometimes you can't see them there embedded in the equipment other times you there a separate item that you can literally pull out a blow of one of bust busted and replace it okay since relays are this couple good links are in the instruments I'd encourage you to look at them if you know what history the relay so we got fast for now asked lesson about relays and adjustable foot note the transistor was invented in 1947 and of course the transistor is a silicon version of that were very low voltage or current can modulate a much larger voltage or current but does it without physically moving contacts the problem relays of course there are mechanical device so the magnetic field is mechanical because your opening and closing the contacts backrest problem is all sorts of problems without Donna got the details but the bottom line is if it moves it will break so one of the things that in when you do reliability engineering you realise that anything that has a connector anything that moves or can move our will inevitably fail before the things that don't sci-fi solder sorry North American expression if I solder a device onto me as I sorry I have to point out when I first went to working in the North America and I said solder they look to me like I was like what are you talking about I pointed the wave soldering machine and they said insider Mike I am the SM insider sorry now that's a weird one I know anyway I don't get that the L disappears because it's felt the same way anyway right back on topic so when you solder a component down to a board it is going to be far more reliable than something that sits in the socket here and anyone is build their own PC you you go back for the longest time possible what's been happening is a rationalisation of these components have gone from being socket eyes to all in one motherboards to the point which these days where you buy motherboard for a PC you saw a couple of expansion slots like PCI express slots on whatever and you are screaming a because the graphics cards on board and any others on board and CPU zoning really in a socket and that socket is gone away from pens it's gone hype was a pressure pressure contact onto a onto a flat but a copper so you a lot of that the movement is sort of taken up was in the old days it was a pen alignment issue and everything so are moving parts anyway in the relay and getting sidetracked moving past the relay are banned so that the transistor is significant because one of the means is that you didn't have moving parts and more so that didn't start to have much of a dense on control systems until we get to about to the mid-60s but still important to note okay so analog controls I don't really want to go into too much depth on analog controls other than to say that they existed and some of them are still around and wanted what essentially analog controls arias operational amplifiers are but I have you to go on this one have a look in the notes if you will know more about it but essentially what you can do is consider a an ample finality amplifier that will amplify anything that you give into involvement voltage from say zero 10 idyll output in linear response to that based on the game that you set and you can set again using different resistances so the idea was that you had a Holcombe bunch of these operational amplifiers and you would literally wire between them the resistances you wanted to quote unquote program the controller and all of the control parameters you would go through all the mathematics and no do all your for your class transforms and figure out exactly how much gain you needed in order to control what you're trying to control and analog controls for example Arden would drive something like a PID control and that's almost over analog controllers this PID control is really one of the big things and controls engineering PID stands for proportional integral ad derivative and what essentially a PID control does is let's say you trying to control the flow through a pipe and for whatever reason there's a bunch mechanical reasons are going to wear you have to control that to either 30 L a second your pump on one end and you've got a water source and your pump is uphill the can't exceed 30 L a second safer device longer to measure the flow a flowmeter doesn't matter what kind just a flowmeter and it says okay I'm now getting 29 L a second so what you do you run that through that your process variable from the field you run the process variable back into a PID controller and you get your setpoint in the setpoint is 30 L a second it measures the difference between them and that is the error and then based on the gain in a broad river derivative times it will then attempt to close that error by the output and the output drives the speed of the pump so the idea is that you modulate your speed of the pump up and down until you reach the desired flow rate if that all sorters made sense than PID controllers through were are extremely valuable because that's why example another example that I could think of certainly back in the day when it was being developed was positioning controls so let's say you're on a battleship and the recent Hubble had to bring this one up is because I a few years ago I saw what was the name of the movie where arm these aliens came came down to earth and they had to get this old battleship out now saw stuck in some kind of big energy thing values are score battleship was not what you based on the game was cited in our summer liability the point is that they got this old users around Hawaii and they got this old battleship from the 40s or 50s out and it had all of this are all the different of the old-style controllers in their fit positioning the gun turrets and elevations and everything and I was looking at nothing and inside me on my whole that looks so cool because that's all the stuff of course it doesn't exist anymore it's all been mothballed and doesn't now we've all gone to digital control and all analog stuff is all gone but things like positioning controllers and all that sort of feedback on the revenues to be handled with analog controllers and analog electronics but everything is all gone digital because digital is so much better in a lot of ways but at the same time to help more complicated so that just another you seem silly example I haven't worked in a battleship of that age but you are looking at the controls and will be reading about it yet so a lot of similar concepts so it's all about you've got a variable that you try control you have a means by which you can affect that control are so viable affecting the value and is the PID control allows you to set a setpoint and control it without having to keep you on because the cause before analog controllers lease to have somebody that did so what they would do is I would sit there with the speed control on the pump on and they were simply so faster slower and I would say faster they wait a minute that see the flow feedback coming back yards about 29.5 L a second I come little bit faster so little manually done right but this allowed people to get a external well essentially any sort of computer to do this customised specifically though for that task so that was just briefly analog controls and that there are very popular in the 50s and 60s and all of those machines are more or less gone now it is not in use anymore I think that they still had one of the University while Z is for teaching purposes when we were doing operational amplifiers and you control system theory but we never even used it it was like IN ethanol analog control unlike IK looks quite lovely next so anyway it was the use the USS Missouri with the our thank you guests and that which was where arm Gen MacArthur and Japanese Foreign Minister Memorial should commit to our saintly the surrender of Robert but is it as a call about absolutely my money on not not much into that like the military gear but I can appreciate a nice-looking butler so that Mrs Allen at bit spherical anyhow so the next thing the next thing was happening at the same time was people would exploring experimenting more with relays in terms of control so what they stated there was a stone and things like timers and time delays and to realise so instead of just saying I run a current through the coil the coil pulls in the contacts and away we go we switched our current through from one to the other and with its going to do well they sampling time delays in them so you would when you put the actual power on to the coil it would then have a toddler that you could configure could be a second hard two seconds 10 seconds where you want and of course they then started offering ones did the reverse which is once you take the power off that it continues to maintain a contact for a certain amount of time before it releases the contacts and I would call those on the lie and off the lay timers so with a combination of not like timers and standard relays you could start to actually build a panel with pushbuttons indicator lights that could start to do basic digital control howl exactly that works it's very hard for me to describe I thought very hard about how I would describe it just using words because this is a very this is not a visual podcast are not a what is the what is the right name for that videocast of Highwood blog here someone it is this that is multiplied is I'd cast font cast so I I don't like is really hard me to do without drawing something or showing some except please have a look in the night in the Chennai syrup though a few good links in the hi I'm strongly encourage you have a look at those in your spare time to sort of give you an idea of how work but the basic concepts if I can try and paint a single very simple idea of latching circuit and move on consider you have a pushbutton and a pushbutton essentially turns on the electricity it it starts at from the source voltage whatever voltages those 24 V DC I keep saying 24 mL just if you curious travel of the sea has become the de facto industry standard for automation systems in certainly industrially in telemetry systems is typically 12 V because 12 systemic car battery voltage and go 12 cells are typically used to back up for solar systems so that's why the resort was predominant in telemetry systems that don't generally have a connection to the grid but when it comes to industrial is 24 V which is not not coincidentally twice are the 12 vaults anyway bottom line I could from a 24 V solicitors assume it's all 24 V DC which is pre-war standard and industry distaste you push the button 24 vaults gets to the next part of the circuit which drives a relay the thing is that those relays can have more than once in a contacts surveillance .1 switchable two or three or four so that's when a wee subtle about single pole realise double pole relays in our quad quad pole realise three poles exist for the pre-uncommon usually want to or for eye or even a safety anyhow so what we do is we will then run back to all that the start button and well so you know what once you push the button and close the relay on the feedback why the outputs back into the input and Alaskan ado is that's gonna keep the current flowing so once I take my finger off the pushbutton the relay stays energised and is the core latch solicitor will then latch in animals they latched and if you stop it you have stop button and stop button is normally closed which means it'll it'll the circuit will be complete if you don't touch it and if someone says also. This machine I push the stop button celebrate the circuit once the voltage disappears the feedback disappears which means the relay drops out hey presto you gotta start stop system is pretty simple when I draw it it's real hard to explain that using words so that's the best I could do I hope that's okay so the idea is now picture a plant that Scott dozens or hundreds even of drives in its motors because of course the relay can drive big big relays in the big realise they call them contactors and a contractor can sink 2030 A of current and Al drive big electric motors to turn whatever needs to turn away my conveyor belts move or whatever the hell they doing arm stance of air-conditioning it could be anything the point is that you ended up with these massive big cubicles full of relays and you close the door on the bus to be hot on the front to be a bunch of buttons and they will be labelled and that was you control system was an enormous cubicle full of relays and I remember I saw one of these in operation at when I was working at one my previous companies I was doing some service work with the one I committed move their facility up from Melbourne to Brisbane for tax reasons though the Queensland government giving tax breaks and allowed me a sort of thing that you try to attract business and sometimes cities would temporarily go insane and do that sort of thing and then I jacked the price up later in your heart you moved too late now sort of thing happens and that's a very nasty anyway I was listening to the panel the relay panel because the planning was we had a plc and running the right PLCs run the rest of the equipment but the old ductwork in the top or the switching the duck was all done using relays and these relay panels that were built in the 60s and I was set up my ear up to the cabinet and I listen to this the song of all these realise going quickly to click click click click trail for curriculum might arm that is just the most bizarre set to this day it is imprinted on my brain is just the most unusual thing because PLCs generally don't do that the lights flash on and off but that's okay the off flicking realise every two or three realise a second because I said it's a problem right because relays are a mechanical item on my way around if you buy relay lasts for you 100,000 operations was 100,000 operations are up you're on your own enlisting want to stop actuating it Michael you might get to the one common phone mechanisms realises our welded contacts or carbonised contacts in other words it's always making a connection no matter if you turn off or it'll never make a connection even if you turn on in which case you know radio chucked out for anyone and I'm sure it's in Europe rebuilding at a plant rebelling out in a really room rate than you got you there may be reader hundred thousand but who knows you get about wine and critical to collecting rate it's is easier and I assume I'm assuming that where that really becomes a problem is dealing with it if something is if something is relatively slow you can have as much heat and pressure rebelling up but I'm not made many are your fractures are terrors in the material by once you get to something really medial computationally intensive it's gonna start our away I knew Yep spot on exactly right and the high-temperature environments kill them and the year how and it's yes it's another operations and that they will kill it the quickest but are obviously if you're switching a relay 10 times a second and is soccer last year you know and this just as bad design if that's what you gotta do is control system even with a plc you've done something wrong in a desert desert there is a better way to others another way doing as is been done wrong relays aren't meant to be operate like that so anyway I see we are in the 60s we got smell controls we listen PID control with we got all these realise for the digital control we need to do in a course the transistor is now being developed to a point at which you can now have essentially many computers we have supercomputers they call them supercomputers of God are multiple room bunches of tape drives in the anyway monitor the point I'm getting at is that silicon had started to come of age so in the 60s late 60s it was 1968 there was essentially a group of companies that got together to try and solve this problem and Bedford associates who was actually formed from a bunch of companies of Morley Greenberg there actually is a founding members I believe Molly Greenberg Landau Swank and goodness Boyce seven Boissevain police messed up as well mangled apologies and they essentially form Bedford associates and Bedford associates came up with a design that they called the Modicon which was short footage and abbreviation for modular digital controller and the model number was 084 and the Modicon plc is the essentially considered to be the first plc and a plc is a programmable logic controller and the whole point of a plc at least back at that point was the river realise it was to get to get rid of all the times lap dancer program at so rather than actually because if you want to program a production line all that back in those days in the 60s you have to do insert relays here bypass realise their mess with timers DO and so on all the sorts of electrical wires run everywhere morning I did mention as I opened up that relay panel had a look inside there was a dog's breakfast of wires run everywhere between thousands of realise in others lives in Oshawa and Macau could anyone understand this and while the older guys who'd actually brought this up from Melbourne looking set IN this realise Donna was doing that I was doing and dislike were yet it had in these views really start to store memory is memory in computers and essentially jam essentially when I described the lashing circuit relaxing circuit is memory so assessed series of lash circuits you could create an end date you could create I am from an ant gate you could create any form of gate you are so right and/or not bland bloodbath that the other point is that you either you're right they did and thank goodness they encounter with a plc because suddenly it was possible with a form of software for you to programmatically change what the system would do seek to change the time the lace you could just give it at a time delay weather was what we was there wasn't one before just by adding an extra line of code and that was a massive breakthrough and the first industry to truly take that up was the automotive industry so the because I had big production lines and they were like okay we need to automate whatever we do what my likes the assembly of this section scrapers I don't know whatever the remaining conveyor systems but they they were the 1st to really embrace the plc and the great thing about it was that there was this in the next 10 years there was a massive let's all build a plc is a fantastic idea so there were hundreds and hundreds of PLCs that will be brought to market in the next decade and maybe the next two decades and because guess what they were all totally different different software different ways of programming in different languages different everything but the one thing that they did keep the one thing and that still stands today is a common programming language that they call ladder logic and the first time I saw ladder logic is sometimes called relay logic but the first time I saw ladder logic I saw thought to myself is most bizarre way of writing white whites and that the name comes from the fact that if you were to draw the relays they had an abbreviated way of drawing the realise these relay control panels and that relay logic diagram if you drew a line connecting all the coils on the right-hand side and all of the source voltages on the left-hand side and with all the relay can contact in between it looked like rungs on a ladder like you your your your logic literally look like the rungs of the ladder that she would climb up to $20 on your roof and they call ladder logic and the name stuck so the Modicon is evolved and a whole bunch of other competitors did to but they all supported ladder logic and initially of because it was very crude that that the descriptions for it how your program was terrible the great news was while all this was happening computers were happening as well the PLCs really they are like a microcontroller microcomputer but they're not that I have a keyboard that I have a mouse over monitor all they care about is input turns on what I do with it I wait 10 seconds and turn the output on or something like that so as time went on and computers developed the the the software you can use to program and got better and better again to the point at which it was it became visual C could literally drag-and-drop you want this I want to contact your coil there on time delay block there is Dragon in drag-and-drop drag-and-drop new draw lines using a mouse and that sort of essentially works been for the last maybe 1520 years it's all become a vision well on the good PLCs anyway arm that the more expensive ones ever got decent software packages because now everyone had computers and computers could be were were easily accessible is when PLCs first come out was all custom everything custom control as custom programmers custom everything whereas it had to die he couldn't go on like that so long as a lot of industries there is when is an innovation suddenly everyone wants in so every everyman's dog and your phone I say that sounds really gender bias when I say that to say everybody everybody wants to have a PLCs I can make a plc burner allows arm economies trivial about Mike smart phones with touchscreens and and smart watches this I asked what was then only the next big thing suddenly there's always come is working smart watches but the funny thing is that it's not always the first 1 to market that actually has the best product and I you only need no more evidence than just looking what Apple did with the iPhone as proof that they were the first smart phone the world know course away there are generally very low with they were very reality the idea was in the narrative was that they were there were two late rate it is W must write not not true because I had a superior product in similar thing has happened in the plc industry so plc started out with Sammy manufactures the first one was Bedford associates with Modicon and the Modicon PLCs changed hands a lot of times and now they're owned by a company called Schneider Electric so the three big names and the biggest in the world in control systems is Siemens the next one after that is a company that these days they call themselves Rockwell automation most people however recognise Rockwell not by that name but dry the name of the company that they acquired our Allen Bradley sound Bradley's American company that did a lot of work early on and Modicon was eventually went over to Europe and was developed further in Europe now is owned by French company and Siemens has always been Siemens that the gear that they views the most popular PLCs that they have the what the current range they call me a 7 to the F7 300 and 400 PLCs viral have always been developed based on the S5 before it and before that I am you and your point is that it's always been a German product by German company and they started out essentially are later to the game by several years but they've come out as being the most popular plc in wellness arbitrariness flat but in any case Dozier three front runners these days so if any PLCs if any of the big three, so the big three talk about our Schneider Rockwell and are Siemens not that all okay but that wasn't the only problem because PLCs had other issues because when you have a production line this this year you don't have everything all in one place what you've got is you've got control stations around the plant so let's say you Akiko motorcars in the main reason is because well now car plants are highly automated and that was originally drove the adoption of PLCs in the first place so anyhow this progress when the last things you do this homage controls associated with that but then you've got lessee got the side panel door assemblies or you've got welding robots that are handling you know though the spot welds on our on on the trunk all go whatever all of that will have doubly different welding stations stubby different attachment points verbally whenever the wheels on when a fitting ambience interior and there will be a big long moving production line so you can't really have one plc in one location and economically run cables out wise at every single actuator in every single feedback devices you've got every button back to one massive box so I had to do was they had to not just for that reason the course is also back in the 60s and 70s the constraints of memory because your memory was precious so there is a so much now code you can put away these things when there is going to expensive so the PLCs had to be broken down distributed so you have one plc and Osprey regular one plc a welding station and so on you break it down into multiple PLCs and next plc would need to know a little bit about what the other one was doing and hence then we start with the our protocol wars and the protocol wars in in PLCs were were pretty vicious because everyone had their own way of doing it start out with cereal and then went on to packet by Stalin essentially ethernet and everyone had to do a just a little bit differently deny that the most common standard that is still used today that was present in the earlier not the first Modicon of course 8404 but in subsequent Modicon is up that was are again blending from the name Modicon is called mod bus so Modicon Modicon bus mod bus and mod bus has become essentially the de facto standard if you have a device has zero communication than it should support mod bus because everything has the last 30 years however Siemens push their own property bus which is extremely very popular as well and Allen Bradley pushed the class if you're different ones along the way but there are a hell of a lot more than that and thankfully most of those was over now and they settled on those big three and again not surprisingly Veritas three big Manufacturer so Siemens push property bus our Schneider push mod bus and sound Bradley pushed the latest iteration of the IDF muscle control matter whatever that was serial communications and that was that was happening basically late 70s and into the 80s because you realise the point that the Internet didn't exist networking and ethernet was not very common at all and the hold-up in emptying and all that that was all happening off in another world essentially from automation ethernet really didn't start coming into products until the 90s and even then from the mid-90s for some of them think Siemens stud adopted in the late 90s start as a separate add-on module and then we get to the property about 2000 to 2003 the start incorporate directly into every one of their CPUs like that you get ethernet now like gay alloy much better okay so all the ethernet data suffered they account their own version of OCR profit further for Siemens in control at frown Bradley staff and there is device that is well and there and the mod bus of course our Schneider decided of mod bus TCP because well watch what you and it's a brand so analysis called mod bus but with TCP which is a course essentially the same thing but it works over packet system running at enough outcomes are not about PLCs visits to other really important things that have happened in industrial automation and then will start talking about the other measures of automation like building controls and a course home automation so the next big thing to happen is saying the development computers having the same time and that was good because it drove not in the programming software but also drove the monitoring software so is one thing the programmer plc to say turn this on turn that off time delay here wildlife what you would love to do is you would love to have it all displayed on a computer screen and you could look at it from 100 m away or hundred miles away and see what was open what was close what was wrong or stopped because these things have false will bring the fault feedback into the plc as well as displayed analyst if there is a fault on any of my lines is and what you can do is you can actually completely remove people from the from the environment you can say right use in the control room you sit in front of this computer screen and also the state of everything it's happening in the entire plant and has massive cost saving benefits because the flipside of that is putting people out of work but you know that so a less immoral discussion that Gates it's it's worthy of discussion and I don't mean to be dismissive and I don't I don't like to dismiss it because it bugs me a lot but I just talk about this just today's arranger, discussion okay so they came up with a obscure name for the stuff which they always seem to do our it's called the supervisory control and data acquisition are and that stands for Skarda so it was U.S. Customs are talking about software that specifically designed to to take data out of the PLCs and display it visually for someone to either observe or to interact with because what you could do is rather than having a physical push button now plc having a memory you could turn into a virtual pushbutton sci-fi click on a button on the screen has the same effect now is physically pushing a start button for that device in the field and that gives you not only monitoring the control and that's very very powerful size computer develop that's gotten better and better and better and it's it has reached the point now where Westar is immensely powerful and Skarda did the same kind of thing that everything else had which was there was a massive rush of people to the party people had PLCs felt that they had a developer and Skarda to go with it and industry standards were very there was one very many so Siemens develop a bike or win cc and is our Bradley of our they were developing RS view and Schneider develops video but there are other countries it develops our scars packages are resigned pacifically to be generic and while those earning strain example that was our site act and site actors very very popular as originally sports for over 100 PLCs so if you want to talk to Siemens plc your Schneider plc different PLCs it wouldn't ordinarily talk happily to each other they would happily talk to the same Skyla system so you could literally have a production line made of different PLCs and collect one-to-one scale system away go so that its attractions as well but solve the problem they came out with something called OLE further process control object link object links I was your sense object link compellingly as our and are either stood our other legal process control/IBC overseas were recalls and OPC is essentially are giving IBC drive my plc and that means that any Skyla system that supports IBC can talk to it so there was no longer a need for site act and to exist anymore and you can usually discover softly what songs IBC compliant and how mostly dry we could all put appeal see what an animal happened in the ER the late 90s and in the 2000 so hopefully still with us were almost there and that is the DCS some people talk about Skarda plc in the night already CS DCS is different from appeal since gutter system was developed later in his historically because what is it at Kirkham it's a specifically designed integrated system in other words you have terminals and you PLCs the two are linked you both modify that that the code of the DCS and you display the results in the DCS are as one integrated solution and has a whole bunch of advantages as I wanted disadvantages so rather than going to either or honours can leave it there so now DCS is are they, like plc for Skarda okay I talked a little bit about programming languages just want to cover the famous IEC six 1131 standard so the international standards body said it casts arcs how you've got all this PLCs was of a programming language sure they still support ladder logic but you know what I can't just export code from one plc into another narrow eyes I can do it so what we want is your sterilising programming languages so I came up with that standard with our six 1131 and it spells out what it should look like how it should work and then manufactured so write our code don't conforms with this so yea and its express was a whole bunch different language is not as ladder logic something else called functional block diagram structured text language out of your different ones as well and there and the whole point of standardisation which has been really good for the industry well know that's not fair it's been really good for the programmers whether or not Siemens are happy about it I'm not so sure you can tell just by the names of these these products it is these companies are shipping that our there are now too keen on giving up that kind of control are no no no definitely not so is no incentive for them to do it is none at all because what I want I want you to say right well you've got a Siemens plc because I lets face it since PLCs are pretty great however I don't like this Skyla's gonna win cc hair is passable that you I prefer to do so I clear Skyla all neo-Honeywell experience also like that whatever imagine if you didn't exist and are you have no choice you had to get Wednesday's theology couldn't talk to your Siemens plc Babbage said to be terrible in the 10 consultants and yet you read you get me it you getting it that's the problem right so okay so we talked about the history of automation all the different booms and all the consolidations the key players the different kinds of equipment one of the things it's become more prevalent lately as though the PLCs are now saying to respond to support redundancy so CPU spend with power supplies being high failure rate items in our mother push and plc land is for our redundant system redundant systems and another one of the pushes are likely as well has been our safety systems so the idea is that you can't it is not possible for example to defeat are a series of interlocks and if it's a protective device and that is a major much sense then while over provision go to that actually but bottom line is that safety systems are now becoming a big thing as well and I guess at that point I just want to push pores on industrial automation and start talking about where it is used because people don't realise this is that automation is used everywhere however what's happened is that certain niche markets have sort of evolved into specific use cases so specific use case that I can think of that is very common our railways so railway control systems they use our PLCs a scar as well but that the what they do is the way they display the information some of the protocols that they use have been customised and in some ways I say refined a little bit but they bore specific to railway signalling and switching points and all accidents because they measure things like occupancy and on train lines and and so on so the ogres were transiting on train tracks Yates creating a conductive path between the two seashore between the two tracks and you can tell there's a tractor at the visit train present and arm all that sort of stuff is subtly different unique to the rail system it's not something that you would find a wastewater treatment plant or a water pipeline however are these other examples like our heating and ventilation systems so they have their own controllers of Dan and with all the thermostats feeding into the controllers to the head to drive the air-conditioning system the compressors on and so on chillers on larger systems and analyse stuff and otherwise just is on Billings is building a draft so you things like door locks on my door locks are fingerprint scanner access in and out of certain areas motion detectors are lift controls another example of a control system that is very niche and the one time I was having a look at the arm of the top floor on the top floor usually but not always are the controllers for building age to work in and I was fortunate that I came up when the lift guy from Shin Schindler lifts arm was there and he had pan- Anacostia canal must ofttimes shove my head in our muscular hundred questions look at me on my I'm sorry I'm an engineer and his lights are harshly guessed as a building full of engineers if someone was gonna say some I'm sorry I'm sorry couldn't help it I'm drawn to the flashing lights anyway our buddy Amy was it was a customised controller but essentially he was programming in much the same way that you would programmer plc it had software that was built for it but a lot of the same concepts applied assisted been fine tuned specifically for the application solar PLCs I'm talking about their essentially a generic plc generic controller that you can apply to all sorts of scenarios to do digital control and analog controls to PIP not PID control can now be done in a digital plc don't need an analog controller anymore but it's also generic so you could use a plc controller left but it's gonna cost you more because it's not specialised for controlling LFC far better off using a customised controller for that left but still technically a control system and now we get to home automation home automation is yet another example of a control system but there has been essentially I don't say dumb down but simplified in in its scope into what is insofar is what I can do and honestly I've looked into this a little bit but the thing I've looked into the most that I'm happy to talk about is lighting controls not so long ago and white and also origami like maybe 10 years it was the case where if you want to have controlled lights you needed to hang up I needed to step back a second standard light switch is literally a physical toggle you to flicker on and off the OU got got the slider type onesie slide up and down and then you've got the ones of the law mob flex any literally leak flickered up flickered down and Ellis doing as it's doing is switching from us completing a circuit to breaking a circuit pretty straightforward but what you need if you are control that is you need to go from a physical switch to a digital switch to our digital switch works is that they're the ones that are literally local pushbutton and they can alter the different forms but you are a little pushbutton about the same size as a standard light switch in a digital pushbutton will sometimes have a feedback our LED on it like a blue green red whatever colour LED to tell you that it's on mind you if you look at the light unites lights on so you can figure out it's on to someone about any eyesight is it superfluous they think it's that if the the EDR that the dream of a weather out that tells you of its raining rate but there problem solved yet will SMS to be had at the window this is the think is a thing of the someone once by the argument to me when I was having was a master honourable rant and they said well okay what if the lightbulb is blown up what would you do with a normal light switch and forgets digital audio do you turn the light switch on the now turned off your turn on your turn obviously I it's not lights not working so why do I need a blue light on the front of my digital light switch to tell me if the light is on or not the same thing pushbutton pushbutton pushbutton or not getting light it's busted Yamane is just over this the features benefits thing I'll say it looks futuristic and it looks cool but pointless Royal Bank of yeah exactly but that's nothing I have our blue LEDs at my time right because I I have a couple hard drives of those blue LED may show a and they panic they they they reflect around the because I've got to our light coloured walls the light reflects around and now I can sort of see a very faint blue glow coming from the study of the novel nighttime anyway I have got to delights in this hazard I probably make sure I got ones that didn't have the indicator LEDs on anyway I'm digressing again the point is that all these are other relay with a with a latch on them such that when you push the button it closes the relay latches itself shut and that closes circuit the drives lightbulb you are pushbutton again then a digital controller to tax I was already on therefore I'm gonna open my circuit breaker and drop out the latch I said circuit breaker drop at my relay sorry and open that latch lightbulb turns off so what how would you want to do that and that's the reason you want to do it is because that opens up the possibility of automation so I no longer have a physical switch turning on and off I have a digital switch that I can turn on and off via relay it doesn't have to be actuated by button likely to be actuated by button from the next room go from essentially the equivalent of a scarlet system with a with a plc so there's the two pieces once again dislike I said before you've got the control of the does all of the pulling strings the puppetmaster if you like our funeral analogies and you got all the actual actuating devices with the that's a digital lightswitch whether something that actuates the opener closes the curtains or blinds or the windows are all rights and inputs for motion detection tell when you're in a room or presence detection when a room when you left the room all these things can feed into a controller and can decide what to do with itself so about 10 years ago so compact that the only way that was really available was you have to run a separate set of cables to connect up all of these light switches onto a common communications bus die whilst options thought you had was the same problem with geeks that want a wider house for Five Six I guess these days so Wi-Fi is awesome because that's what everyone likes to use right deeper Wi-Fi room and you can use your well I guess back in the day was laptops but now it's everything it's iPads or iPhones and non-Apple products that have wife whatever they may be no judgement but the point is that you can wander through the house freely given to Jack into the wall you don't and the big reason is that's not a big deal if it is there Yamane I can assure you get your cables negative over cables not to panic but you always get better transfer rates out of cable and you'll ever get our Wi-Fi you just you will the technology for wide is always can be ahead of wireless and you and while this is a fixed resource which means once it is gone it's gone what's your view is that you can't use any more is staffed whereas with a cable use add another cable the signals contained within the cable you had 10 cables you have 10 times the bandwidth eventually run out of bandwidth on Wi-Fi so as theirs was a limit anyway so people than why the house with Five users pain the neck is a lot of cabling to do and you have the oboe with an ethernet switch committee altogether to make it work well that the thing is that these light switches the same problem they had to run not only power cables to the single janitor run a second bus around the house but didn't follow the power circuits that followed the actual light switches and the most common standard bus they one of four is RC bus is on CC bus as opposed to a bus on the ocean which the seamer so are they have in Vancouver I guess that was confusing because II was aware of see bus and I went to Vancouver for our holiday once I see bus engineer giggle her right eye was only got the joke so we breathed on anyway so am II the control of the controller itself had much simpler programming software but the idea is simple you can say well I like should not stay on for more than I'd know 10 minutes on if you got motion detection the presence detection is and how some more advanced controllers can say if no one is in that room for more than five minutes turn the light off our summer walks into a room turn the lights on immediately you even more fancy systems you can have video of the dog attacked the light level automatically because people these days are more interested in the cool remote access stuff so if you warrant your home house for home automation and you've got a lot of the senses that it's not so much about the automating of it is the remote-control rate so you can say all I got my iPhone and I know Johnson the lights off in the kitchen rate And a psychologist the coolest thing ever I mean practically speaking who cares but hey it's so damn cool rate think about like the gnat next now the nest thermostat and what you would generally call that is that it unites the thermostat that learns rate that's the that's the pitch by you know that guys when everyone you know and what really loves about is that they have an hour for it I absolutely and lives here exactly BC that is what I find fascinating is that home automation has been around for quite a while now has been around her at least two decades neglect of the old X11 staff rate that the company a memory game I had that new electric and elegant in a get here we can use IKEA Sarah 6035 is to control the lights it worked yet bus driver but there were two problems and one was all the extra wiring you had to do because it was fully wide controllers that it wasn't wireless and that at a lot of expense back because it was usually retrofitted into houses which is a massive pain in the neck businesses that it was also that the controllers were simply there were enough of them and and therefore are very expensive and was still very niche market the thing is today it hasn't changed a hell of a lot is still a very niche market but the difference is that more people are doing it because now I've gone wireless so there are now wireless equivalents of see bus standard and is a whole bunch of different ones and wanted what effectively you can do now as you can circumvent the wiring problem and is at the point where you still need to be an electrician to go and plug these things into the to the actual switch on the faceplate on the wall you that that's that's still a barrier to entry so what's happening now is is an even more interesting twist to the story whereby their building in the controller into the lightbulb so instead of having a switch to turn on and off in the wall that you can access on and off remotely or through some kind of control similes the room turns off after five minutes whatever it is instead of that now you can remotely control them through the lightbulb in order to unscrew the lightbulb in it gets power from the yard from the lightbulb is on you always leave the light switch on at the wall out about the faceplate is always switched on and then you can control it through an app on your phone through the local Wi-Fi and our album mutual friends are James Smith now working for our ally fracture of enlistment at that hands out that the lightbulb that is running its readers through an unknowing years and years and years very long way freight and data engaged to start you plug it in and rescreened in the late and in that it galloped from from anywhere you can is pretty they got there are its colour control to you can house us this new dimension to play with that that's to me that's that's really interesting I didn't see it coming and I mean this is just one example there are dozens of others but there's is got all these other things it is mentioned in this non-mad advertisement for them but you comments check it out it is conical arm what I mean to say is that the idea of you know what how we make this more accessible how we get this out to more people because home automation should be given should be up there with if you live in a warm climate you get a solar hot water system if you live in a warm climate wicketless only gets IIs saltwater solar solar panels it should just be everyone gets how home automation built in one of your new house it should be a massive expense but it is wasn't happening because it was a little bit too expensive it was just too much of a luxury thing so how do you bypass that while you take the electrician out the equation you don't need to rely through the walls you don't need to get nitrogen to swap out the faceplate anymore units by special lightbulb and adapter for an existing lightbulb and hey presto it'll power itself usually leave a switch on and you can remotely control it through wireless means and and that's where everything seems to be going and get exact same sort of adapters not as for lightbulbs but also for standard what they call a general-purpose outlet or agenda or general-purpose socket are socket outlet is also different names for a gas but are in Australia so we call them that that's the other three pin PowerPoint on the wall right so now you can control individual an electronic device whatever it may be an amine up to a point because you want to go than a TV set of TV sets these days have got OR an auxiliary circuit that waits for some of the pushbutton so sitting there idling consuming arduously all the time waiver; pushed on button or push the magic button on the remote control infrared remote control to start the TV so what good is remote-control and that you turn off that you can turn it back on again in support of remotely telling our television anyway as I could taste on a warmup anymore so like it was back in the 50s where he had valves in the back of your TV set and you have the year you turn on you to wait five ministry to warm up for it would show a picture rate natively payments for the Kibble master figure what else here is true is true so you I find her home automation is going to take off more and more but it's the thing is I don't understand so much the attraction of the remote access it's more of the automation cited is useful so I went through this thing and I just getting your on that on the year getting close to wrapping up is the situation I looked into it and was a costs cost trade off with my kids I may not make sense but kids tend to be a little forgetful of things and light is one suffer example becomes a drill whenever we leave the house now that I walk through all the bedrooms turn off their lights when all summer turn off their fans as well so our whole house is in a condition we do have fans in the rooms so go round house and do all that would not be lovely to be out of pushbutton and say shut down the house and just turn off all the lights all the fans or go to I'm outmoded we've got a key light turned on to know some people I say off is always relied on you disaster looks like your home so burgers will be confused right rate like that works but now maybe does may be a dozen moments I doubt that as well but never mind that let's just run with that shore leave a light on either way you got like I'm away from home mode would that be awesome BC that's not the angle that makes sense exactly MS convenience thing but what makes sense is money in terms of money for electricity so will the way I looked at it was how much would I have to spend on automation system to reduce the amount of electricity wasted by lights being left on unnecessarily obviously I make whole bunch of assumptions that is really not as hard as you might think because if you have a system that set up such that you have a motion sensor and a room someone leaves the room numbers in the room for two minutes or one minute or 30 seconds even you turn damn light off you will what you need for if you're sitting in the in front of the TV set may be young relied on anyway if you're sitting quietly missed in the study and are not moving out a lot now I guess it comes out the sensitivity of the of the motion sensor the presence detector but the bottom line is that it should be possible to put that together and if you can figure out our an estimate of how much our electricity is wasted well I did the maths in this place and the usage patterns eyewitness with my kids and arm a basically came to conclusion the payback period was about 11 years but that still worth considering so I guess I'm in the side but is that the cost upfront would cost me to retrofit all of these home automation devices to and do the programming bulk Vicodin cost my entirety programming but never mind that a psycho where I work for forever is my family that some you all that is gonna end up costing me are a fair bit of money in a democracy benefit until 11 years of past so that's a sort of investment that is a harder sell putting solar panels on the roof the payback period was significantly less than that and it was a bigger payback afterwards that was worth doing but your use case may vary but the sister was my experience and it's an angle that some people don't consider and I think it's worth people considering with was with home automation white unit tiger mothers maybe think of bomb of bomb flux VR bill out there yet a further remark on your PC to an in some hourly future breaker I find I think you can banana to an insight thing that that what warms up warms down your your screens colour balance as you guys as our as the day progresses sell you not looking at this are in a super break and what the 300 K art screen at 12 o'clock it may arm you'll be on in the ADA where that is is that you just you properly should be doing that rate you publish shouldn't be looking at things that are as great as the midday sign when you are about to go to sleep and it's in your gut see you got your costs you could cover you good your all nothing sort of approach rate we like other women 22nd later let's flick off but you also admitted enables these kind of these these gradual things to wear you can invite and maybe flux doesn't matter immediate in a matter of completely clear that the sciences there by a calculating down this morning to do the user shall squeeze every running almanac in Ireland and a trolley just because they have sat so it doesn't turn on right away no brothers doesn't exit wrong but I'm thinking of its colour camera there are no zones being used quite widely even have to bother with this all greatly year you should run smoothly refer a little bit but after seven hours I better sleep and you know what time it is an presumably this machine can also keep track of his leaking not know when I'm likely to be using it that there is no good reason that was deadline and granted there is very little powerless drying out of that by its M is something and it's not great where you know it sold the more smarts we get into everything we can speak and start enabling the sort of little interpersonal customisations rate that we With kids not nattering the lights on and off I am in what you're also doing there in addition to the cost is your your sidestepping the social cost rate of having to deal at having to be the doubt that I was yelling under turn off the lights rate near throne and as a number run out by its very amended there is some aspect of that where it is a problem that we don't have to have any more see the thing is why did that costing III sort of an offhand comment programming because you are my own time I am go with my family and have your work freeze my family but that sort of hides the others bill sub issue that you just said on which is putting a tyre putting a cost on that that the fact that I don't I know I would no longer have to wander around the house to do that so that wandering around the house let's say I leave the house with the kids once a day which she knows is really not that unrealistic in some cases you come and go from house multiple times per day are depending on you kids sports birthday parties so you know family outings advance school that adds up more than you think and so now it takes me to wander around to all the lights off in the house and everything that so that exercise takes me two minutes while actually the citation three minutes so you do that just once a day seven days a week just 21 minutes of your of your time over a year that scan up to many hours of your time rate so and one of the things that I often sort of think about is this only as a so much life that each of us has an adult to go all fluffy but it's not meaning to be its if you put a cost on every now that you spend and say I was do something that is going to generate revenue and I don't say that that should be the point of life but let's just say that far of the arguments sake that you will look at it that way you could say well I could spend those hours and hours of my life doing something that can only money this can only like developing a website that makes money or writing code writing software that can make me money or honestly if you take the money away from it just something you'd rather be doing rate you and that if you think about different currencies rate that that there is the yes there is the social currency inside your family or your friends or in the menu there is your own practice at this morning I will go up and a set wiser screens everyone rate and it was just a little thing you know it but it adds up and others those experiences over a lifetime and it being some pretty big numbers arm yes you say how you want account that reviewing care and any just cut up your the flipside of it is is there is the enemy just like the other Protestant work ethic of public while you should be suffering rate you should you should take the time to mostly grouse and and that's that can be amended there is there is some value to that rate that it builds character that you not be thinking about things and being thoughtful and remembering is is good for you by those lots of ways you can do that and that that currently exists In insidious minds that sometimes that to think that it is somehow value in in repeating yourself rate that that you utilise it in yard as the programming are our idea not just giving it right you don't repeat yourself if you've written you read no abuse are cold more than twice as times are encapsulated and pulled out and how it do its own things are you not have to do you have to bear that target of world again and again and again and again on and yet it's worth exploring all the answers might not always be the same Los Angeles Times because they are not spine by you don't want to ignore it either you fire is an interesting argument because what will what someone says our belly say I builds character man I've heard that too many times in my life most people you honestly it's it's a simple choice is there a better way or isn't there isn't you're stuck with it as soon as there is a better way you have a choice and one sugar choice you can choose to either work there is another one of those exercises were about to spit it out so here comes which is work smarter not harder and I say that with a certain tiresome this in my voice because God I've also heard that so many times anyway but you know that irrespective of how worn out that expression is it does have a good kernel of truth to it which is you should be looking for better ways of doing things because if you don't look for better ways of doing things are ways of saving time that you put towards other endeavours whether they are to make money or not freeing up your own personal time different currencies as you are saying yet that's worth exploring accepting everything that we haven't sang our lightswitch works fine and got yet I've got that linear times are actually most recently from my wife when I propose this arm was 11 year payback lightswitch works fine anyway arm I'm working on the point is that you should be looking for better ways because life is short there is only a certain amount of time and I think that if you can do some use technology to enhance our backpack aspect of your life and reduce your dependence on menial tasks then surely that's gotta be a better net result in the end rate and lie and those that goes along with that is when you Mrs it's human nature a little bit then when something is it like doing the dishes rate and in everyone knows the smartest way to do the dishes it is as soon as redundant as soon as you are needing is to clean them up and get them in their seat on how this in off pile of dishes piling up on but when something is a chore when something has unit you not getting any real immediate gratification and or or your pleasure out of doing it is a good chance you can let it slide soul in cell if you are you after visit to isn't just work in a demeanour relating and we have got two choices was that either do it or to not do it you three choices estate you cannot meet relating or you can IATA meet relating and manually got to make sure that you turn everything off or you can IATA meet relating to sleeveless running all the time and if you know if you think really honestly about your behaviour and an kids behaviour and your family and friends and and how we act as humans that I personally like running and I can think about it well as a way worse outcome than either meeting so you have to think about how you how you behave when you're thinking about something rationally and and being being smart about it versus not rolled on most of the time and we meeting the smart you be really friendly to the Dom you are it's an interesting way of looking at it I think the whole thing with home automation and what it can do to reduce some of the pressure on your on your life and different ways the way I looked at it is I need to see a cost saving of either in money or in time and energy in this case it ends up being both which is a win-win and if I do spend the extra money what's the payback period I feel like there's a there's sort of a pervasive our belief amongst people with home automation and they say our humble emotions one affords this it is that I can do I can turn off the light bulb went on holidays in another country and is now awesome and everyone sort of sense to look at that and say well that's nice but I mean that's what's the point that that doesn't yet what what values that really give you and I think that the people lived in that situation looking out wrong there looking at the point of view of just because I can do something from the next room that's not the power of the system the power the system is in the automation side of it not the remote controller and that's the automation is what will save you the time and will save you the money and that's I think the angle the people need to consider it from and I just don't see enough people doing that and it is out there it is becoming cheaper and I strongly encourage people to start looking into that to one OR wrap it up so if you want to talk more about this you can find John on Twitter at John Geagea that's a jail each and CHR eight DG EY is the same on our partner if you like to send email you consent it's a giant attack distortion outcome under Alexander and can reach me on Twitter at Fiat like southbound Regency show announcements and related materials by following the show account at pragmatic shop thanks causing a extra thank you�
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Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Ben created and runs and Fiat Lux

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.