Chicken Little's Revenge
I owe Chicken Little an apology. For the last week the sky indeed has been falling. Europe has been brought to a crawl as silica-rich ash befuddles the airspace of both travelers and cargo – temporarily bringing people and business to a near standstill.
Here in the Midwest, Iowans scrambled to their storm cellars as a fireball that would have driven even Foxy Loxy deep into her den streaked across the sky in a dramatic meteor shower.
It’s a topsy turvy time here on terra firma as well. Tax day came and went, perhaps our last without a national healthcare line item. It’s been so balmy in Illinois that I’ve already squeaked in my first family camping trip. And here at B&B business is ramping up to the point where our engineers are running around like Henny Penny and Goosey Loosey being chased by an ax-wielding farmer.
Not only are we going full beans on new products, but the Custom hotline is ringing off the hook, juggling a full half dozen OEM jobs to put B&B communications expertise behind the label of a number of prominent brands. The factory is cooking with gas too – not just churning out product, but also tuning up their processes – demonstrating major productivity gains through further cellular manufacturing – not to mention putting more and more of their own requests into the engineering team.
Across the board, emails, voicemails and Skypes light up monitors and blinky LED’s - each begging for just a little slice of time.
Makes you envy our engineering ancestors. No email. No phones. Product requirements delivered by mule. My great great grandpappy didn’t have to deal with virtual worlds, global economies, email, tweets, twits or any of the other challenges to mental stability brought on by our life in the 21st century.
But what fun would that be?
Within some boundaries of reason, frantic is fun. Survival, however, does require a firm grip on some tools of the trade. Regardless of your title, you must be a project manager. You must be a master planner. You must be a czar of time management. And, you had absolutely better love what you do.
Speaking of frantic fun, one special group that knows it better than most is System Integrators. These guys have nowhere to hide. They design, build, install and more often than not provide on-site commissioning and support. If something doesn’t work right they don’t have the luxury of pointing a finger elsewhere. Their customer holds their plane ticket home hostage until things are working.
I’ve had a number of great conversations with SI’s this spring about what’s new in their world. I was specifically on the prowl for feedback for our own products and trends that impact our own roadmap. Here are a few interesting things I learned.
Serial converters just won’t go away. Love them or not, feedback from the trenches indicates that the need for serial conversion and isolation is continuing to grow. And the trend seems to be reaching into more and more rough and tumble environments. Frankly, that’s just the answer I was looking for as we just launched our toughest line of serial converters yet.
End users are getting over their wireless jitters and getting cozy with the idea of reaching more of their stuff sans wires. IT guys are often brought into the meetings (which makes the plant guys nervous), but demonstrating that standards based security protocols are in place, and that it won’t interfere with their IT 802.11 networks is enough to the get nod of approval. Zlinx radio modems and Zlinx wireless I/O have been on the table getting the go-ahead in more and more of those meetings.
No surprise that USB is showing up in more and more places. Medical devices, shop-floor logic controllers, measurement, instrumentation – and so far customers are professing their love and gratitude for our new laptop-saving USB isolator. If you take your laptop into the field, or are using USB in virtually any industrial setting, this $99 investment will do more than anything else to keep the smoke from escaping from your PC.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is getting a lot more attention, particularly as cameras gain popularity for security and just plain monitoring. Our 5-Port EIRP305-T has proved a popular solution for industrial apps requiring PoE.
How frantic is life in your “do-more-with-less” cubedom? What are your tried and true techniques for staying on the sane side of the dotted line? Talk back at http://blog.bb-elec.com.
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