About Frank

As the man behind this site, it has been my dream to create a resource for people to share information about automation technology. Industrial automation has been my biggest passion — there’s just so much practical knowledge to learn, and there’s no better feeling than the feeling you get when you begin to master a trade.

That’s why I want to share The Automation Primer with you.

I have worked in the electrical and electronics field for almost 30 years and in controls and automation for about 20. I worked for several automation distributors after graduating college in Electrical Engineering and went to training seminars on Omron, Allen-Bradley, Pepperl+Fuchs, Danaher, and various other vendors. Part of my job when working for distributors was to train customers in the proper application of products. During this time I discovered that I was more interested in the technical aspects and problem solving than I was in the particular products themselves. This brand-agnostic philosophy has stayed with me to this day. You won’t hear any brand-allegiance from me. It’s not the tools that matter. It’s what you do with them.

My wife of 25 years, Mieko, has helped me translate Japanese schematics and engineering documents. She is also an accomplished control panel builder as well as keeping the books and acted as Human Resources when we had our automation company. I also have two grown daughters who live on the west coast. *Edit 2016: I have now been married for almost 31 years and my youngest daughter moved back here to Nashville and got married.

Music

In my spare time I like to play music, and I just finished my first CD of original rock music, appropriately titled “Automatika”. If you’re curious as to what it sounds like, Google “Phranc Lamm”. Yup, that’s me with the red guitar on the left side of the third picture… * Edit 2016: This was in 2013. Unfortunately, I am on the road a LOT and haven’t had time to jam for a while…

mapmyplaces

This is a map of the places I have been and jobs I have been involved in as of December 16, 2016. I put this here to kind of keep a record as I teach and consult around the country. I also put a machine in Suwon, South Korea while I worked for Wright Industries in 2007.

I love to travel, even for work… I’m not sure how long I can keep traveling every week, but overall it’s been fun. Other places I have been; Japan, China, England, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Hawaii and a tiny island off Africa called Ascension. This map pretty much covers everything else.

*Edit 2016: This picture is from an experimental phase when I decided to skin my head. I have since reverted to the non-cue-ball look.

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8 comments on “About Frank
  1. Weng says:

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for putting up a blog like this for us lost souls!

    I have just started learning about automation and will be dealing with Simatic PCS7 in the future (for plant automation). I have done some research and most of them explained that i need prior knowledge of DSC, SCADA and ladder programming.

    Do you have any recommendations on books where I can start? I have not done any programming before.

    Regards,

    Weng

    • Frank says:

      Hi Weng, thanks for checking out my blog! As far as books, I googled “Siemens PLC Book” and several came up… I usually just use the help files built into the software if I have a question. I don’t have first hand experience on any of the books though. For basic tutorials on ladder logic there are several online resources including this one where you can pick up the basics. plcs.net, program-plc.blogspot.com and several others offer the basics that you can apply to any plc. The series I am posting this month (201,202,203…) may also be helpful.

      Siemens is a bit different than most other platforms. You need to know how FB (Function Block) and FC (Function Call) instructions work. Essentially they are like subroutines with or without local variable names. After you get the basics down from one of the online resources the help files and a distributor training class will help.

      Siemens is also programmable in several other languages besides ladder, you may need to learn those also. STL and SFC are the two most commonly used.

      It is rare that you would need to know both DCS and PLC programming as a beginner. DCS systems are usually used in large process facilities, chemical plants and petroleum processing facilities. You may need some ladder in this case. Typical manufacturing facilities making discrete products don’t use a DCS. Before learning SCADA I would learn HMI programming for the OITs used in your facility. WinCC is the software that comes with the Siemens PLC software suite. SCADA uses the same techniques as HMIs as far as screen layout and tag assignments but adds historian, graphs and database capabilities along with more elaborate alarming. Wonderware is a commonly used package. Siemens also has its own WinCC SCADA package.

      Good luck in your automation journey! I have some sample Siemens PLC programs I could e-mail you if you’d like. You would need the software to open them of course and its not cheap…

  2. mhafizan says:

    Hello Frank. I had bought your book ( industrial automation: hands on)from Amazon and patiently waiting the book to be arrived at my home door at Malaysia. Will email to you the book soon with the receipt.. felt so excited to learning (^_^)

    • Frank says:

      Thanks, I hope it helps you in your job! Since a lot of the content comes from my experiences in machine building I think you will find it a good reference. The tables on motor sizing and ASCII come in handy, and if you do any PLC work check out the short piece of code written in the 5 IEC61131 languages. They are actually all the same code. I appreciate you buying the book and checking out my site!

  3. Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the great article on ranking the top PLC manufacturers. Do you know of a resource that can tell me how many PLC-5’s have been shipped worldwide by Rockwell/Allen-Bradley since its intro in 1985?

    • Frank says:

      Hi Dave, unfortunately I don’t have any connections inside A-B that could provide that info, but I would think that data would be available, maybe through their public relations department. It would be nice to know for all of their platforms.

  4. Kevon Smith says:

    Hello Frank, i found your website following a link you posted on linkedin. I must say its a well organised and so far great website with a wealth of information. I am from Guyana, South America. Over hear there aren’t much persons providing services in the field of automation, as a matter of fact most people source automation services from overseas. I graduated in 2010 from a Cuban university via government scholarship in the field of automation and control and have since been working in the government own sugar industry here in Guyana. I want to start my own automation services company so as to fill the void we have here in Guyana and possibly the Caribbean, and i am just hoping i can get some advise from you in this regard, do’s and don’ts etc based on you personal experience in doing the same after you would have achieved your degree in the field. thank you.

  5. Mehrdad says:

    Hello Frank , I’m Electronic Engineer and I haved work with siemens’s plcs for 5 years. I like learn about allen bradley . Do you have any recommendations on books where I can start? I have not done any programming before.

    Regards,

    Mehrdad

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