PROFIBUS Troubleshooting Tool Demonstration: Checking Device Statistics (11:40)

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 27, 2016 10:51:54 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in General, Grid Connect, Phoenix Contact, Products, PROFIBUS, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, ProfiTrace, Rick Rockershousen, syncs, Technical Support

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When looking at the live list on the main screen, the user is able to see real time updates of what is going on. If the user had just walked up to the instillation and saw that all of the devices are green, they would assume that there is nothing wrong with the instillation. In reality, they would be seeing a real time representation of what is going on right now. The user has no idea what happened five minutes ago, or even an hour ago by looking at the live list screen. Fortunately, ProfiTrace includes a statistics function. There are little tabs across the top of the matrix that change what is shown in the main window. For this tutorial, we have been in the live list tab. For this purpose, move over to the tab that is titled “Station statistics view” and click on it.

From this new tab, the user can see something called “Syncs” that is going on. The syncs statistics are measured. The boxes show how many times each of the devices took a sync message. Sync messages are sent out by the master whenever a device drops off of the bus and it is trying to bring it back. This is essentially an “are you there” message. Every time the master is attempting to talk to a device that is missing, it would just send a sync message instead of its usual write outputs and read inputs. Basically the device says “are you there?” When the device gets power back or is returned to the bus, it will answer and the master will put it back into data exchange on the next cycle. If there are sync messages, it lets the user know if there have been problems on their network because it means that a device has been missing. The Phoenix Contact that was turned off at address 15 in our demonstration was off for quite a bit longer than the other devices. In the few minutes it was off, it recorded 68,000 sync messages, which is substantially larger than the others.

At the top of the matrix, there is a drop down menu that is titled “selected statistic.” A variety of different statistics, including syncs, can be accessed from this menu. Let’s take a look at the “station lost” statistic, which is a little simpler than the sync statistic. This statistic simply shows the user how many times the device dropped off of the bus. There are about 20 statistical variants that are recorded by ProfiTrace. As long as it is plugged in and active, it will be recording these statistics so the user can look at things such as the slowest/fastest data exchange interval, I/O size, diagnostic messages requested by the master, and lots of other great stats. However, the main ones are at the top of the drop down list.

[embed]https://youtu.be/oulY6e0TvlU?t=11m40s[/embed]

For product information and to purchase, visit http://gridconnect.com/industrial-protocols/profibus.html

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PROFIBUS Troubleshooting Tool Demonstration: Using ProfiTrace Software (3:28)

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 13, 2016 10:44:58 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in firmware, General, Grid Connect, Init ProfiCore Ultra, master, Phoenix Contact, PLC, Products, PROFIBUS, PROFIBUS/PROFINET, ProfiCore Ultra, ProfiTrace, ProfiTrace software, Rick Rockershousen, Technical Support

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For now, stay on the main ProfiTrace page that is included in every kit that Grid Connect sells. To begin, click on the button that says “Init ProfiCore Ultra.” It will begin to initialize the ProfiCore Ultra, essentially it is checking the firmware that is loaded in the Ultra to make sure it is the latest firmware. Then it will begin to check the baudrate of the instillation. Once this is complete, there will be five boxes within the main matrix (grid) on the screen. These boxes will be green with a blue number in the center. There will also be a box with a white background and the number “2” in red. The matrix is what is known as the live list, which shows the addresses that are available in PROFIBUS. This means that we have PROFIBUS address 0 (Row 0, Column 0), located in the top left corner of the matrix, all the way down to PROFIBUS address 126 (Row 120, Column 6), located in the bottom right of the matrix. This is the maximum number of addresses available, according to the PROFIBUS specification.

Anywhere ProfiTrace is listening to the bus or anywhere it senses a device communicating, it will put it in the box that represents whatever address it is communicating from. In this case we have the five slave devices (located in the lid of the training kit) that were mentioned earlier in this tutorial. It is also important to note that the red “2” represents the master or PLC. The devices that are marked with the green box means that they are in normal data exchange with the master. Basically the master is writing outputs and reading inputs in a cyclical fashion to these devices and they are all in data exchange. This is a live list, meaning the things we see on the screen are the things actually happening right now.

To see how this works, we can simply turn off one of the devices in the training kit. We have small on/off switches to make this easy. Once the device is off, there will be a blinking red light in the top left corner of the device’s address box. The phrase “Phoenix Contact” will then appear on the screen when the box turns from green to yellow. The yellow color means that the device was on the bus communicating, but then it suddenly stopped, which makes sense because we turned the power off. Essentially the device is no longer communicating with the master, which ProfiTrace senses when it changes the background to yellow. Clicking on “Phoenix Contact” within the box will provide information in the section on the left of the screen titled, “Info Panel.” This is next to the live list, which is indicated with a heart image, that includes the matrix we worked with moments ago.

In terms of the error that occurred, the red blinking light in the top left corner of the box indicated that the device was sending a diagnostic message. Essentially what happened was that the Phoenix I/O block that we have in our training kit has some capacitive power that remains if it loses power. This allows it to last just long enough so that it can tell the PLC that it has lost power. In the Info Panel, it will say something that says “low voltage sensor supply US 1.” Basically it noted that it lost power, so it raised a diagnostic flag. In its messages, the master saw the diagnostic flag and asked for the diagnostic message. Then the device didn’t have enough power to keep living, so it dropped off the bus. This is what created what we now see before us.

Why did the Phoenix Contact suddenly appear? ProfiTrace is listening to the bus. Every device manufacturer assigns something that is called an “ident number” for each one of their types of devices. An ident number is just a way to identify each device of a particular type. An example would be a Siemens ET200S, each one of these devices has the same ident number. Each manufacturer creates a file called a GSD file, which contains all information about the device, how many words of input and output it has, information about what types of diagnostic messages it supports, information about the manufacturers, and so on. When a diagnostic message is generated, the ident number is included during that time. Once ProfiTrace sees the ident number, it will go look in its folder of GSD files to see if it has one that matches that ident number. Then it can know what device that was that just got its power turned off. When we plugged it in, the devices were all in data exchange when ProfiTrace started, so there wasn’t an ident number. ProfiTrace didn’t know anything except the address the devices were transmitting their messages to and from. It could not tell us that at that point it was a Phoenix Contact, it could only tell us it was a Phoenix Contact when it saw the ident number.

So now that we know this information, we can switch the device back on and simultaneously see the device turn green again. At the bottom of the screen, there is an isolated green box, which is a special device in our training kit from Acme corporation. Essentially it is a device that Procentec created for training purposes. For our troubleshooting classes, it is a way to let students discover that this device has power that follows another device when it powers off. It had a little power glitch from the other device. During that time, we saw the ident number for our fake device (Acme device) and were able to look up the GSD file and so on.

If we turn off any other device there will be similar results as the color changes from green to yellow. The Siemens works exactly the same as the Phoenix Contact. When we turn off the Brad device, the color will change yellow. However, there is no diagnostic at the beginning so this device is unidentifiable; this is because the device doesn’t have capacitive power. When it is turned back on and it starts back up as part of the initialization process, it provides its ident number, allowing the user to know what it was when it came back on the bus. The last device on the network we are using is the Turck. This device does have a little capacitive power and was able to send the diagnostic message before it totally lost power.

Now we can see the five devices in green with the device names in blue. As stated previously, if the names are clicked individually, the information about them can be accessed in the Info Panel.

[embed]https://youtu.be/oulY6e0TvlU?t=3m28s[/embed]

For product information and to purchase, visit http://gridconnect.com/industrial-protocols/profibus.html

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Companies loosen vacation policies...

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 11, 2016 9:58:07 AM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Adam Justice, Brittney Borowicz, community, company culture, Featured In, General, Grid Connect, unlimited vacation policy

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Grid Connect is one of the few companies participating in the growing trend of offering unlimited paid vacation to employees. While this may not be a great fit for all companies, Grid Connect has a company culture that is based on trust and a sense of community. The environment is based on providing employees with the best work experience possible. Brittney Borowicz, Vice President of Marketing, was offered a free, two-week trip to Singapore only two months after starting the job. Although Borowicz was originally nervous about the situation, it worked out very well as noted in her reflection; “My boss said, ‘Sounds great.’ They were very excited for me to go.” The ability for employees to take off as much time as they need is a great way to increase company morale and attract young talent.

Many companies have had difficulty transitioning to a functional unlimited vacation policy similar to the one Grid Connect has created. That being said, Grid Connect also offers a variety of extra benefits for employees to make work a much more pleasant experience. The company’s Vice President, Adam Justice, states, “You try to offer employees some extra perks to make work fun.” The company offers employees a free, catered lunch every Wednesday, free massages every Thursday, as well as ping-pong and bags tournaments during lunch breaks. In order for these types of benefits to be implemented successfully, companies need to have trust in their employees and have a more relaxed company culture.

Read More: http://www.dhbusinessledger.com/article/20160710/business/160719999/

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Plug-and-play NFC portfolio expanded

[fa icon='calendar'] Jul 5, 2016 1:41:05 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Adam Justice, Arduino, Featured In, General, Grid Connect, Near Field Communication, NFC, NXP, PN1750, tech, technology

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The plug-and-play Near Field Communication (NFC) portfolio developed by NXP has officially been expanded. The upgraded portfolio has been extended with the Arduino add-on boards (Kinetis, LPCXpresso, i.MX, and QorIQ), allowing for faster NFC prototyping and expansion. In addition to this, the release of the PN7150 NFC controller will make it a much simpler process to integrate NFC technology within electronic devices.

The new and innovative PN1750 is perfectly equipped for several applications including home network gateways, set-top boxes, routers, and more. Adam Justice, Vice President of Grid Connect, describes the significance of the plug-and-play NFC portfolio expansion; “NXP’s robust portfolio of NFC controllers enable an easy integration of NFC technology to consumer devices, while instantly making them smarter, more intuitive and easy to use.” This technology will make it much easier for consumers to install their smart home devices.

Read more: http://www.electronicspecifier.com/micros/plug-and-play-nfc-portfolio-expanded

 

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The Internet of Things and Networking

[fa icon='calendar'] Jun 27, 2016 2:26:02 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in ConnectSense, connectsense, gateway, General, Grid Connect, Internet of Things, IoT, M2M, machine to machine, Nathan Rockershousen, networking, smart home, Wi-Fi, wifi

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By Nathan Rockershousen, Technical Writer

The Internet of Things (IoT) is continuing to grow at a rapid pace as more devices are becoming connected. However, the IoT is rendered useless without a system of networking to support it. As WiFi-enabled devices increase in popularity, the demand for networking will expand substantially. IoT-based technology is disrupting the current networking market due to vast amount of data that is collected and the quantity of devices connected to the Internet. Companies will be expected to have extremely efficient networks that will allow for real time analysis. In addition to this, simply having faster Internet speeds is essential in supporting the rise of IoT devices.

One of the developing applications of IoT devices is found within the smart home. Smart technology devices require extremely fast networks. The IoT-enabled ConnectSense sensors and Smart Outlet rely on networking to enable machine-to-machine communication. Your ConnectSense products collect large quantities of data in order to provide you with accurate and efficient analysis. Improving the ConnectSense cloud is one of the ways Grid Connect is able to help you adapt to the implementation of IoT devices in your home. The best way to fulfill the necessity of having a fast network is by creating quicker router speeds and ensuring that WiFi is able to be accessed everywhere in the home with a more advanced networking framework.

A strong network is essential for the use of various IoT products, whether it’s a smart home device, a piece of wearable technology, or even if it’s for an industrial application. Managing your network can be accomplished with the use of a Grid Connect gateway device to improve USB, serial, or custom sensor connections. Gateways and other networking devices can help improve networking abilities in order to support the demanding nature of connected and data-driven devices. Finding a perfect network configuration will compensate for whatever quantity of data your IoT devices are bringing in.

It is clear that the impact the IoT is having on networking is only going to expand as the demand for a more connected and efficient world continues to increase. Having quality control of networks will allow for an improved customer experience. Creating networks that can handle a great deal of traffic and data will allow you to be prepared for the IoT’s disruption of the networking market.

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Brittney Borowicz Named Vice President, Marketing at Grid Connect

[fa icon='calendar'] Jun 15, 2016 2:06:52 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Brittney Borowicz, Employee Spotlight, Featured In, General, Grid Connect, Marketing, Vice President of Marketing

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Brittney Borowicz has been promoted to vice president of marketing at Grid Connect, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality networking products.

An integrated marketing professional with a strong communications background specializing in journalism, public relations and social media, Borowicz joined Naperville-based Grid Connect two years ago and has helped with the marketing launch of the ConnectSense line of home automation products.

She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and resides in Naperville.

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Business Ledger honors 74 companies as exceptional workplaces

[fa icon='calendar'] May 27, 2016 2:12:03 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Best Places to Work in Illinois, business, Events, Featured In, General, Grid Connect, Illinois, small business

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Last night, Grid Connect attended the awards ceremony for Best Places to Work in Illinois and were honored to be placed in the top 30 small businesses in the state. This award was determined by examining workplace policies, practices, and demographics and then comparing them to those of other business in the state of Illinois. After this was evaluated, employee surveys were taken to determine the variations in employee experiences within different businesses. These two evaluations were then combined to create a final ranking for each business.

Read more: http://www.dhbusinessledger.com/article/20160526/business/160528971/

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Are Unlimited Vacation Policies Good for Business?

[fa icon='calendar'] May 26, 2016 2:11:02 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Featured In, General, Grid Connect, Monster, vacation

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Vacation policies are something that vary from company to company. However, a lot of big and small companies have begun to adopt vacation policies that enable employees to take as much time off for vacation as they seem fit, as long as they manage to complete the work expected of them. Grid Connect is a 20-some person company that has offered its employees unlimited vacation for the past 12 years. The vacation policy is one of the many ways Grid Connect creates its company culture, which works in attracting and retaining the best talent available. There are several unique benefits for employees such as free lunch on Wednesdays, massages on Thursdays, and daily ping-pong matches that lead up to a championship match at the end of the year. The employees have not abused any of these benefits or their vacation policy, which has led to a productive company culture.

Read more: http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/workforce-management/employee-benefits-management/unlimited-vacation-policies.aspx

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2016 Best Places to Work in Illinois

[fa icon='calendar'] Apr 11, 2016 2:09:13 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in Best Companies Group, Best Places to Work in Illinois, Events, Featured In, General, Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce, Grid Connect, HRMAC, Human Resources Management Associate of Chicago, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, MRA, Small Business Advocacy Council, The Management Association

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Grid Connect was recently named as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Illinois. The awards program began in 2006 and is promoted by The Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC), the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, MRA-The Management Association, the Small Business Advocacy Council, the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group.

This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Illinois, benefiting the state’s economy, workforce and businesses. The 2016 Best Places to Work in Illinois list is made up of 30 companies in the small employer category (15-99 U.S. employees), 26 companies in the medium employer category (100-499 U.S. employees), and 18 companies in the large employer category (500 or more U.S. employees). (Name of Company) has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Illinois. In the (small/medium/large) category.

To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
– Have at least 15 employees working in Illinois;
– Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity;
– Be a publicly or privately held business;
– Have a facility in the state of Illinois; and
– Be in business a minimum of one year.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Illinois. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Illinois and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

Grid Connect will be recognized and honored at the Best Places to Work in Illinois awards ceremony coordinated by The Daily Herald Business Ledger on May 26 and will be profiled in a special publication on June 27. The final rankings will be announced at the event and announced on the Business Ledger website (www.dhbusinessledger.com).

For more information on the Best Places to Work in Illinois program, visit www.BestPlacestoWorkinIL.com or contact Katie Smith at 877-455-2159.

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16 unique employee benefits

[fa icon='calendar'] Feb 15, 2016 12:49:28 PM / by Brittney Borowicz posted in business, Dennis Zink, employee benefits, Featured In, General, Grid Connect

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Creating unique employee benefits is one of the best ways to attract and retain valuable talent for a company. Journalist Dennis Zink for the Herald-Tribune listed a variety of companies that have had employee benefits that have succeeded in bringing in and keeping their talented employees. Grid Connect was one of the companies mentioned because of its tradition to provide its employees free weekly lunches, free weekly massages at their desks, and an unlimited vacation policy. As long as you let everyone in the office know you will be gone, you can take as much time as you need. These unique employee benefits have allowed for Grid Connect to be successful.

Read more: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20160215/COLUMNIST/160219880

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