February 2008

Automation by the Numbers


The U.S. has lost much of its high-tech manufacturing to outsourcing. As well, foreign scientists and high tech workers are returning to their homes in China and India to handle that outsourcing. They cannot stay in the U.S. Temporary visas for immigrants with special skills (H1B visas) are limited to 65,000 a year, plus 20,000 visas for immigrants who earn advanced academic degrees in the U.S. The 2008 cap on visas was full on the first day they were available.


The ISA92 committee "Performance Requirements for Industrial Air Measurement Instrumentation Related to Health and Safety" has submitted three documents to American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, for consideration. The work includes installation, operation, and maintenance criteria for workplace ambient air measurement instrumentation.


Power over Ethernet enables DC power transmission over the same Ethernet cable transmitting the data to a device. The present IEEE standard allows up to 13 watts (W) to go to the device. A newer standard will probably come out this year that will increase the amount of device power available to 30 W.


Manufacturing in the U.S. failed to grow in December as the Purchasing Managers Index, or PMI, registered 47.7%. This is the first month the manufacturing sector has failed to grow since January 2007. A reading above 50 means the manufacturing economy is expanding.


The longest electricity transmission line in the world is going up in China. It is 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) long and uses ultrahigh-voltage direct current (UHVDC) technology. It will run from the Xiangjiaba hydropower plant to Shanghai and provide power for 31 million Chinese. It has a 6,400-megawatt power rating, which is more than double the most powerful rating in operation today. Transmission losses will be less than 7%.