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.
Hi, I’m Frank Lamb.
I was not a good student in High School, in fact I failed to graduate. After working a series of odd jobs for 3 years, I chanced to walk into an Air Force recruiting office in 1981. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! I went to school for electronics and Navigational Aids, and then was recruited as a teacher at the electronics school at Keesler Air Force Base. I only taught for a little over a year after which the program was discontinued for junior airman teachers, then joined an Engineering and Installation (E&I) squadron for more practical experience.
I got out after my four years and after getting married and enduring a failed experiment at being a rock star, reenlisted, worked at a bombing range for 3 more years, and went to the University of Tennessee as a 30 year old freshman. I managed to graduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1993.
I have now worked in the electrical and electronics field for almost 40 years and in controls and automation for about 26 (as of 2020). 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.
I owned a custom machine building and systems integration company from 1996-2006 and learned a lot about the industry. I closed the business and worked for a large machine building company in Nashville after that from 2006-2012, learning how the “big boys” do it.
After leaving Wright Industries I completed my first book, Industrial Automation Hands On, which was published by McGraw-Hill in 2013. I published another book, Advanced PLC Hardware and Programming, in 2019.
In 2013, after about a year of independent systems integration contracting, I started teaching PLC and HMI classes on a contract basis. Three years later I opened my own training facility in 2016, building a small imitation factory that I used to train more advanced students. I held classes there for both Automation Training and Automation NTH, and things were going well. until…
On March 3, 2020, a tornado ripped through the Nashville area, destroying my training facility. Covid-19 hit a couple of weeks later, and like many others I worked from home. It was during this time I decided to shift my focus from in-person classroom training to online recorded and live training. On July first I moved into a new place, where I hope to continue serving up lots of useful industrial automation content. For links to my other social media platforms and groups click below:
Facebook – Automation Training group
YouTube – Automatikai
My email: email@example.com
In my spare time I like to play music, and I finished my first CD of original rock music, appropriately titled “Automatika”, in 2013. 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…
I also play Chess and Go (also known as Baduk in Korea and Weichi in China). I’m always up for a good game or a jam!
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; all of Central America, Japan, China, England, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Hawaii and a tiny island off Africa called Ascension. This map pretty much covers everything else.
Well, that’s about it. I have also been married for 35 years as of 2020, have two children ages 32 and 34, two grandchildren, and two more on the way. I live near Nashville Tennessee.
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.
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…
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 (^_^)
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
Good morning Frank,
Can you send me a quick email? I have some pretty complex PLC code which runs our brewhouse via the AutomationDirect DL06. I would love to have someone look at my DirectSoft PLC code just to ensure it’s correctly structured to optimize it’s functionality. I’ve been building on it for about 6 years now and I’m the only set of eyes that’s seen it so it would be great to have someone else check it out. Anyway, look forward to chatting with you.
I’ve been reading the blog a few weeks ago. I noticed you accept guest contributors, and I think my expertise in 3D Animation makes me a great fit. Currently, I blog at arise3d.com, & Arise Engineering Services focuses on mechanical and industrial animation.
After looking at your blog, I realized you don’t have any posts about Why product visualization is significant part of 3d rendering services? As you know, product visualization its importance and how it plays significant role in 3d rendering services. Would this topic be of interest to you and your readers?
1. Why product visualization is significant part of 3d rendering services?
2. How 3D Animation can help to boost your product sales?
To give you an idea of the quality I’ll bring to your site, here’s a link to a guest post that I recently published on https://sugermint.com/the-future-of-3d-rendering-in-business/
I’m always open to suggestions and input. Let me know what you think!