Summer Developments Driving Automation

This time of year, there aren’t many exciting news days in the technical world. Everyone seems to want to hold all the "really good stuff" until fall, when vacations are over and everyone's back at work. But summer still offers the surprising and unusual and gives you a revealing glimpse behind the scenes at products and services shaping automation.

Surprising Developments
For instance, there is more consolidation going on in the IR thermal imager and thermometer world. Ametek suddenly announced the purchase of Land Instruments International of the U.K. Truth be known, Land's lesser-known line of unique combustion instruments and gas turbine specialty sensors are a great match for Ametek's own line of combustion instruments, and the IR products are a new product area for them. About the same time, Mikron Instruments (Mikron Infrared), which has been on its own acquisition hunt the past few years, announced stellar earnings and is now not only listed on the NASDAQ exchange but also has made the hallowed pages of William McNeil's IBD 100 top stock picks <> for a while in June, as their stock price rocketed upward.

Application Stories and Unusual Items
During the same period, application stories and unusual items—rather than new product announcements—seem to dominate the news. For example, there is the Harvard professor who is providing enhanced volcano measurements with networked wireless seismic and temperature sensors, a new method of measuring temperature distributions within flowing water, the latest upgrade to the freeware Wellstress program for thermowell vibrations and stresses, new electrochemical software to help with full 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, and a story about an Ohio testing lab's special analytical services  that aided NASA in returning the Space Shuttle Discovery to space (It doesn't seem like summer without a launch).

Fall Meetings, New Services
Finally, there are the late summer and early fall meetings announcements and new services, such as a note about the NCSLI August meeting in Knoxville entitled "Metrology's Impact on Society" and the RFID Event for Apparel & Footwear. Also, AITscan introduced a new service, Thermal MapIR, for aerial infrared mapping of plant, warehouse roofs, and other projects, such as locating water pollution sources. And then there’s NIST's Combined Regional Measurement Assurance Program to update and support the State and Regional Weights & Measures staff.

Yup, it's summer. While not dull, it is not as exciting as the hyped announcements of newer and far-better gadgets, services, and technical showcases that herald the back-to-work season. On the other hand, these summertime announcements tell a lot about what's behind many products and services for automation and often how they are used with great success.

Specialty News Sources
You can access many specialty news sources on the Web via RSS news feeds on resource Web sites, such as Sensors magazine, on my Web sites, and on many more. There's a growing list of related RSS news feeds on And Sensors provides a quick and thorough overview at its Web site. Take my advice: Spend part of the “slow news” summer catching up on Web automation with RSS.

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