AutomationDirect E-mail Newsletter

E-Notes from Captain's Log aboard
Volume 6 Issue 6

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Automation NotebookIf you enjoyed our first issue of our company magazine, Automation Notebook, get ready for issue number two, which should be arriving in your mailbox in September. In the meantime, check out the Automation Notebook Web site at for articles from the last issue and for new, fresh content. We will be updating the magazine's home page periodically with company and industry news, trends, and more.

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  • Web site launched
  • AutomationDirect participates in PROFIBUS technical seminars
  • Schedule for Interconnecting Automation training


  • Open loop stepping system line launched
  • Marathon Motors line extended
  • 50 and 75 VA control transformers added to offering



  • Direct PLC-to-Enterprise Interactivity


  • Application of the month



COMPANY NEWS Web site launched

DURApulse drivesWith the Internet becoming an increasingly valuable tool for engineers to do research, automation suppliers are taking advantage of new technologies to present product information in more informative and interactive ways. A case in point is our new Web site focused on AC drives, The site specifically highlights the recently launched DURApulse line of sensorless vector drives. A high-bandwidth version of the Web site makes use of audio/video and visually-oriented demonstrations to provide a more interactive way to learn about the product's features, applications and configuration. A low-bandwidth version is available for dial-up connections, which rely more heavily on traditional text screens and audio. While the site makes it easy to gain a general overview of the DURApulse drives, it also provides links to details such as technical specifications and the complete product manual.

(In any video production, there are always bloopers before you get it just right. Visit and go to the "Now What" page and see if you can find the smiley "blooper" icon to view some of these moments!)

AutomationDirect participates in PROFIBUS technical seminars

AutomationDirect is participating in the PROFIBUS Trade Organization's series of FREE one-day technical seminars and product fair. The seminars will include presentations and product displays on the following topics: Basics of PROFIBUS Operation, Bus Physics & Wiring, Cable Construction, System Troubleshooting, What is PROFInet for Ethernet, and more. Following are the dates of upcoming seminars: November 9 - Chicago, IL

AutomationDirect will also be participating in the Profibus booth (#1639) at the ISA Expo 2004 in Houston from October 5-8. A 10-minute multimedia presentation on AutomationDirect can be seen in the Profibus booth's Theatre.

For more information, visit

Schedule for Interconnecting Automation Training classes

Interconnecting Automation delivers training to customers using AutomationDirect products. Following is the schedule for training classes in the next few months:

ICA logoIntroductory Classes:
September 28-30 Las Vegas, NV
November 2-5 Cleveland, OH

Advanced Classes:
October 5-7 Las Vegas, NV
December 7-9 Atlanta, GA (This class will be held at AutomationDirect)

PID Class:
December 14-15 Atlanta, GA (This class will be held at AutomationDirect)

For more information on InterConnecting Automation classes, visit

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Open loop stepping system line launched

SureStep stepping systemWe've recently launched the SureStep™ family of products, an open-loop stepping system that includes four standard motors, a "one-size-fits-all" step motor drive and a power supply. With holding torques from 83 oz-inch to 434 oz-inch in NEMA size 17, 23 or 34 frames, the motors handle a wide range of automation applications. They operate on 2.8 A per phase (size 17 motor uses 2.0 A), while their square frame style produces high torque and allows the motors to achieve the best torque-to-volume ratio. The drive operates any of the four standard motors and features standard +5 VDC optically isolated logic inputs for interfacing with DirectLOGIC PLCs other controllers/indexers. A 9-position DIP switch is used to set up the drive; no software or add-on resistors are required for configuration. The standard 32 VDC, 4-amp linear power supply operates at least two SureStep systems of any size with an auxiliary +5 VDC regulated supply to facilitate DirectLOGIC PLCs and stepping motor drive interfaces. Prices for the new SureStep motors range from $19 to $99. The microstepping drive is priced at $149, and the power supply is $99.

Marathon Motors line extended

Marathon motorsThe Blue Max® 2000 series of Marathon motors is now available with a shaft-mounted encoder. The encoder is a Dynapar model HS35 and requires a 5-26 VDC power source. It has a line count of 1024 pulses per revolution (PPR) and a differential line driver output. A 10-pin connector is supplied with the TEFC models and a junction box is provided with the TEBC models.

Also new are lower horsepower versions of Marathon Blue Chip XRI® motors. The Blue Chip XRI motor line previously included 40-100 HP models and is now available in 15, 20, 25 and 30 HP versions. New lower HP Blue Chip XRI models start at $839.

50 and 75 VA control transformers added to offering

Two new models have been added to the existing CPT line of control transformers. The 50 and 75 VA models offer primary and secondary fuse boxes and 230/460 to 115 V. The control transformers are UL, CSA and CE listed and are priced at $36 (50 VA model) and $41 (75 VA model).

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Non-metallic enclosuresNon-metal models added to growing enclosure line

Several non-metallic enclosure models have been added to our line of enclosures. Prices for the new line start at $16. Carbon steel, fiberglass, stainless steel and aluminum subpanels, as well as a line of accessories have also been added.

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Direct PLC-to-Enterprise Interactivity
By William Glover, President, INTEWORX.NET, Inc.

Managing production and resources simultaneously

Today's aggressive market environment demands that plant processes be as accurate and efficient as possible. This requires the collaboration of two vastly diverse systems. The shop-floor control systems keep operations moving quickly and produce high-quality products at a competitive cost, in a safe working environment. IT uses data-processing services to manage the efficient and effective delivery of goods and services. It provides support to evaluate, obtain, develop and modify systems to fit the specified needs of various operating units.

The interdependent relationship between the shop-floor control system and the information-processing unit makes success possible only when important data can flow freely between the two divisions. This presents the problem of how to transfer large amounts of information from the plant floor into the enterprise system and back out to the plant-floor control units in an efficient manner.

Communicating information to the enterprise

Problems associated with the internal flow of information are nothing new. However, engineers, plant managers and IT personnel are becoming more concerned with the efficiency of this flow, the ease of storage and retrieval, and the interactivity between systems. As processes are becoming more recipe-oriented, using multiple formulas and set-points to carry out operations, enterprise databases are emerging as the best way to store and share the overwhelming amounts of information needed and generated on a day-to-day basis.

There are many functional advantages to using databases to store, retrieve and send information. Databases allow for convenient storage, easy retrieval, speedy operations and organized displays. Recipes from PLCs can be programmed and changed from the database, which is much easier than reprogramming a PLC directly. Settings can also be recorded in the database and sent back to the PLC for future operations, eliminating unnecessary reprogramming altogether.

Traditionally, PLCs and databases have communicated indirectly through SCADA packages. This provides a viable solution to the problem of getting information from the plant floor into the enterprise system. For some users, however, the intricacy and expense of SCADA packages may negate the purpose of using a database storage and retrieval system. Database systems are meant to be more efficient, convenient and interactive. However, the complexity of many SCADA packages makes them inefficient and slow, and their architecture prohibits interactivity.

Proactive data-collection and PLC control

INTEWORX.NETAs the passive and inefficient information flow between PLCs and their enterprise systems is becoming a concern to industrial leaders, unique solutions are beginning to emerge. AutomationDirect's DirectLOGIC PLCs or WinPLCs, for example, can communicate directly with enterprise database systems using INTEWORX.NET's DataWorx Professional software packages. Unlike traditional SCADA packages, DataWorx Professional actually acts as a translator, rather than a go-between. It translates the PLC's original data into SQL statements, so the PLC and database can communicate in the same language, eliminating the need for expensive third-party packages and unnecessary programming.

Unlike SCADA solutions, the Professional software packages allow the PLC to have complete control over its information's storage and retrieval. Using the report-by-exception method, PLCs are able to send data to the enterprise system only when necessary, which eases network traffic. These proactive data-collection tools also enable the user to easily and quickly define database operations to the PLC, so it is able to conduct database operations on its own. Perhaps the most unique feature of these packages is that they allow the user to retrieve information from the database and send it back to the PLC. These innovative systems give the PLC direct interaction with the database, making the process more efficient and making the jobs of those on the floor much easier.

For more information on INTEWORX.NET, Inc., or the DataWorx Professional software packages, please visit or call (770) 886-6166.


Application of the month: New testing facility uses DL06 for testing military hardware

Products used: DL06

Description: We replaced an inoperative central alarm system with a new environmental testing facility to test military hardware. The testing system tests such things as temperature, humidity, space simulation, salt fog, and altitude. Each test chamber is connected to our central alarm system that "polls" up to 256 stations, then alerts the operators if a chamber is having problems. The PLC can poll all 256 units using only a cable with 12 wires (instead of a huge bundle with all 256 wires).

Submitted by:
Tom Schmidt
General Dynamics

View our entire collection of Application Stories or submit one of your own

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