Not in the last year though I did help one of our facilities guys debug an issue a couple of years ago.
You say high speed or the lack of need for that is the reason they stay away from USB. That is certainly part of it but the other thing is cost. Not so much that USB hardware is that much expensive, as you can get both RS232 and USB built into cheap mircocontrollers, but rather development costs. For many uses a RS232 port is easily implemented and even if more complex behavior is required one can find may a embedded OS that handles the job fine. USB is a far bigger development effort coupled with compliancy issues.
One day maybe. For some devices I'm not sure it would ever be viable. On the flip side Ethernet is becoming huge in automation as it has none of the issues that USB has, is relatively fast and fairly cheap these days.
Yeah I have $100,000 machines that boot and RUN off floppy.
Conversely a lot of the specialized equipment companies can't afford to develop for USB. Some of these guys are very small shops doing one off or very short runs of equipment that has few uses outside of one or two industries. More importantly if more performance is needed USB isn't the smart choice for most of these types of equipment.
And a lot of the newest equipment isn't capable of interfacing with the older panels that are in service. Old programming software doesn't run on newer OS's. You have to keep older computers around if you want the service and maintenance contracts. Lot's of businesses (like school districts) don't have the money to replace existing equipment that still does the job just because it is old.
I have two very old computers and one 5TI PLC programming terminal that I have to keep around just in case.
We get a lot of specs, manual and stuff these days on optical. Frankly it is a mixed bag. Paper manuals and especially prints can often be more useful than electronic distributions. I'd like to see an iPad used for this at work but frankly they still aren't fast enough and flexible enough for that sort of work.
Maybe I'm old but futzing around with a PDF reader can be very frustrating when you are under the gun to get a valuable line back in production.
Nope, I think I'm in the same boat in a slightly different industry. Maybe I wasn't communicating well but my point is that RS232 has been dying for a very long time. Likewise USB won't be giving up the ghost anytime soon. More importantly TB will become a niche product if it doesn't get picked up in PC land.
Now in this thread nobody want to hear that. TB is the latest slice bread from Apple and is thus something that can not be dismissed in anyway. It will be very easy for TB to end up somewhat like Firewire in my mind. I'm sure it won't be as bad mainly because I believe Apple has a plan that hasn't been fully laid out yet.
Up until a couple of years ago I worked on equipment that still used RF tubes. Today I still have pre microprocessor based controllers running equipment that has been around longer than I in the plant. Given all of that the new stuff makes heavy use of Ethernet bypassing USB altogether. This is one of the reasons I'm bummed about AIR and the lack of a built in Ethernet port,.
The other issue with USB is its rather limited usability over any distance. People see USB being sued at home but don't realize that it sucks in other settings, often being a poorer choice than 9600 baud RS232. Oh one more other issue, many USB to "whatever adapters" suck pretty hard no matter what platform you are on.