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July 2008

July 2008 – Happy Birthday America!!!

I had a great 4th of July and I hope you did also. What a special time for Americans, what a history, and what great character, something to truly celebrate. This is my favorite holiday after Christmas. I was in Red River, New Mexico this year and enjoyed a parade and celebration. On a sad note, I missed my daughter Beverley becoming a citizen. She was not given much advance notice and we were miles away and could not get back in time for the ceremony. Congratulations Bev, what a great day to be made a citizen.

While I was fishing, Dave and Rusty were in New Orleans working, sorry guys. Rusty just started a job in Chicago which will keep him busy for a while. Now that I am back from vacation, I will be keeping busy on several projects and travelling to Tokyo to join Yamatake for a few events. I will be speaking at the PSE 143 Conference and also giving an Alarm Workshop while I am there. It is nice to be truly International.

I have great news from John Moscatelli; a new baby is on the way! Congratulations to both him and especially Beth. I hope to be seeing John in a couple months in Philadelphia. It will be great to catch up and share some stories.

Our good friend Angelo from Worsley Alumina recently visited while attending the Honeywell User Group. We had a nice dinner and a few games of pool in my man cave. It was great to see him looking so well and enjoying his job. He was not speaking at the User Group this year, a great loss to those in attendance…Ang does it so well!


It is interesting to see how the world evolves together at a similar pace and each addresses the same issues, but culture drives a slightly different solution. It is great to see the Engineering community adopting the same or similar rules and good engineering practices. We all have the same challenges, the same incidents, the same restraints and restrictions, yet we look to technology and quickly adopt the off-the-shelf solutions which make us similar.

This brings me to this month’s topic – “Good Engineering Practice” It sounds good but what is it, who defines it, where do we learn it? A friend of mine recently reminded me when you have been in the business for as long as I have, 40 years this year, (scary) that I often take things for granted and think that everyone knows what I know. Not that I am claiming to be a master, but I am a solid Engineer who has learned Human Factors. I have implemented and installed many control systems and have certificates from pneumatics, electronics, plc’s, DCS and whatever is out there. How do we pass this knowledge down to this new generation? How do they learn when they are rushed from job to job, with minimum budgets, no training, no real project management experience and all they see is what the guy who went before them has done? How do they get their hands around implementing a state of the art alarm management systems, where will they have seen one, what books will lead them in the right direction? Oh, if the problem was only so simple. This same person is now faced with how to implement a state of the art Human or Computer Machine Interface (HMI or HCI). Certainly the young engineer will discover that less has been document on this topic than on alarm management.

The good news is…Bill Hollified, Eddie Habbi and I will be launching a High Performance Graphics book this year. These two topics are a small part of an automation upgrade. We are assuming that this person understands all the engineering knowledge it takes to configure the control system. Once configured, he can ergonomically install it in a room, which we call a control room, and that all things will work together to provide not only good control but will allow the Supervisor of the control system, the operator, the ability to have good ‘Situation Awareness’ and be proactive in monitoring and intervention to maximize efficiency, save costs and ensure safe production. Our plan is to offer more consulting across a broader spectrum of the control business, to partner with like-minded companies to provide a more complete solution and to offer more workshops to pass this knowledge down to this next generation. Many of my peers are getting ready for retirement and we have little in the way of mentoring in the industry. We will try to fill this gap and partner with customers to bridge this void in experience.


UCDS is currently looking into producing some video workshops on a range of topics. We hope these additional services will help our customers as we are committed to customer excellence and have accepted and adopted all the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ethics. Please contact me if you would be interested in purchasing video workshops or if you have topics you would specifically like to see covered.


Please get the word out…

UCDS is actively looking for a new employee to generate proposals, track projects, and follow-up before and after sales. This individual should be an engineer who would like to learn from our experienced engineers and eventually become a consultant. This is an entry level position and we are open to graduates and engineers with just a couple of year’s experience.