Today I learned some things.
I learned that Citect and Schneider have a closer partnership than I thought, and that they have now completed a serious step forward in creating a complete working environment for PLC-based SCADA and plant control systems. This is the wave of the future, because integrators can no longer afford to write their own connectivity and middleware software for each project, and the number of integrators who can afford to write this sort of code is small. Companies who supply a complete environment, AND who do not compete with their own integrator base (several attendees at the Citect/Schneider/Graybar event I attended today had that comment…and companies, you know who you are!), have a real chance to improve their market positions.
As Endress+Hauser has found, it is not enough to have a really effective line of field sensors. E+H private labels Iconics software to provide themselves with a complete solution set. Citect has now provided Schneider with the same thing.
The other thing I learned this morning is that Graybar is not “your father’s electrical distributor.” Beginning with the acquisition of Commonwealth Controls Co. (in Richmond, VA, one of the best and oldest regional Modicon distributors) a couple of years ago, Graybar has put together a substantial automation product line, including Schneider (Graybar is now the largest Modicon distributor), Square D, Belden, Cooper Bussman, Panduit, Hoffman, and Phoenix Contact. Graybar claims to represent over 4200 suppliers, total. The age of the superdistributor has arrived in automation, just as it did in the electronics and computer industry a decade and a half ago.
Then I learned that some things come back quick, and some don’t. I had the great fun of driving 20 laps on the infield road course at the Texas Motor Speedway in a Z06 Corvette. 406 HP, with surprisingly precise handling. Being able to see “the line” came back quickly. Hitting it at speed was slower. But by the 11th lap, I was doing well enough that the instructor was saying, “Go, Go!” instead of “Slow Down, Dammit!” I averaged about 70, with top speeds of about 90 on the one mile course. Not bad for not having driven a race car in 30 years. Of course, the problem is that now I want to do it again. Sigh.