September 2008

Boeing omission

Two admissions before I begin ... Twenty years, ago I worked for Boeing Aerospace for six months. I haven't researched this topic much more, if as much, as you have.

That being said, I did see all the bad press about Boeing on the tanker project, and Boeing has definitely has had its hand in the cookie jar lately.  The assertion that Boeing stands on the "jingoistic argument" hasn't been tied to Boeing in any of the press I've seen.  Perhaps a spokesman did state this in an official capacity.  Even so, perhaps this argument is not totally without merit with respect to national security.

Boeing's press release, published in National Review as a full page ad, states a more logical case being presented to the courts.  Boeing asserts that their aircraft is more capable, more reliable, and less costly to own and operate.  It claims that the KC-45A won solely on the basis of initial capital cost, and therefore violated DOD procurement rules.  The omission of this information from your article in the June InTech (Government News) was disturbing to me.

I guess my point is that I don't think Boeing's legal challenge is based on the French connection, but rather a disagreement with the assertion that their plane lost on technical merit.

George Robertson, ISA senior member

Meeting in the middle

Great article (Secret's in the system, July InTech).  Now if we can just get the IT and engineering departments to work together. This mantra is being repeated everywhere by everyone-one would think the two groups are squared off across the plant floor with bows and arrows.

A point not fully addressed: Some HMI programs do not play well with anti-virus programs nor do some like having updates for Windows or IE or any other application just dropped on the PC. My experience has been to freeze the software configuration of a working platform, limit or remove Internet access from an HMI PC or any other manufacturing ES, or Engineering Station, PC.  The use of firewalls, routers, and servers on the manufacturing floor to get data to and from the front office are paramount to the security of the two networks.  Recently, I have been running in an environment where we have turn off all Windows firewall, updates, and security functions-mainly because the ES software we use does not play well with these settings turned on.  We also completely separate the Plant ES and HMI PC's from the rest of the business' network. 

Using strong user passwords and accounts, plays an important part in the security plan as well, and keeping operators on task (they really should not be doing e-mail, Internet searches, and playing games on an HMI PC or ES PC) makes a difference.  Though it is nice to have the HMI and ES PC's linked to the business network, any disgruntled employee can bring your manufacturing or plant system to its knees. It really is not the hackers or crackers-most security breaches are from internal sources, improper updates being applied, or someone accessing the Internet on a PC that should not be used for such a task.

It is not that we engineers distrust IT; it is that we clearly see a defining line between their world and ours, the two may meet, but should never be directly interconnected or integrated.  I have watched water plants and other critical service facilities crater because of access to the internet on a HMI PC.  We engineers willing want to share our data, we also want to control how that data is accessed or passed from the plant floor to the front office.  In the last 10 years, I have been more involved with getting IT to provide the infrastructure to allow this to happen than I have been on worrying about the PC's on my side of the wall.  Both IT and engineering have a long way to go, though we are closer than many think we are to meeting in the middle.

Matthew Hyatt

Valve wording

As an instructor in the TS00 class, which is a level I review for the CCST program, I suggest the example CCST question in the June InTech Certification department be modified.  The statement, "If the pressure drop (delta p) across a valve increases, the velocity of fluid through the valve will normally," is incomplete. 

There are several things that will cause the ∆P to increase across a valve. 

1. The up stream pressure increases. 

2. The valve restriction changes due to the valve closing. 

In the first case, if the valve position remains the same then, it is true that the velocity will increase. 

In the second case, if the pressure remains constant upstream, but the valve closes, then the velocity does not always increase.  For example what happens when the valve is completely closed?  There is a large increase in ∆P across the valve, but there is no velocity through the valve.  Again, we are asking a question, but not stating all the qualifications.

Maybe this question should read, "When the ∆P across a valve increases, due to an increase in the upsteam pressure, but the valve position remains the same, the velocity of the fluid through the valve will normally:"

Ed Sullivan, CCST Level III