Hot topics for Control Engineering, July through June

Think Again: Hot topics in Control Engineering, from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, include PID topics, System Integrator Giants, motor power, and programming help, among other topics.


Figure 3: Increasing the gain for a proportional-only controller will induce oscillations in the process variable as the controller starts causing overshoot, then undershoot, and then overshoot again. After the gain reaches a critical value known as the ultimate gain Pu, each succeeding overshoot will be as large as the previous undershoot (and vice versa), forcing the process variable into sustained oscillations with a period known as the ultimate period Tu. These two values define a process’ behavior sufficiently to allow the controller to be tuned to eliminate errors with only a few oscillations. Courtesy: Control EngineeringThe January release of the Control Engineering hot topic list makes it difficult for articles posted in the last few months to make the list. To remedy that calendar tyranny, below is a list of popular topics posted from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. These include articles on proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control; System Integrator Giants; motor power considerations; and programming assistance to help subscribers do their jobs better. Also on the list, the salary and career survey and advice (a perennial hot topic), highlighted the need to involve more women and young experts in the profession, which are the topics of September cover stories: an article on women in engineering and the 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40.

1. Understanding PID control and loop tuning fundamentals - July 26, 2016:

PID loop tuning may not be a hard science, but it's not magic either. Here are some tuning tips that work.

2. The velocity of PID - Sept. 6, 2016:

Inside Process: Proportional-integral-derivative (PID) theory is best introduced as the familiar second order differential equation via the velocity form instead of the more traditional positional form. 

3. 2016 System Integrator Giants - Dec. 15, 2016:

The System Integrator Giants program (SI Giants) lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in the CFE Media Global System Integrator Database, ranked solely on total system integration revenue. 

4. The PID learning process - March 6, 2017:

While there are many excellent loop tuning methods available, many practitioners prefer tweaking proportional-integral-derivative (PID) tuning constants or using rules-of-thumb rather than doing the required step test and data analysis. But having knowledge about how the individual PID components interact can go a long way to learning proper tuning theory and methods. 

Figure 6: Leading job satisfaction factors are technical challenge and feeling of accomplishment in a statistical tie, followed by financial compensation, and relationship with colleagues, tied for second, closely followed by a tie between benefits and job security. Courtesy: Control Engineering 2017 Salary and Career Survey research report.5. How to properly operate a three-phase motor using single-phase power - Oct. 10, 2016:

There are several methods to operating a three-phase motor using single-phase power to make what would be an otherwise expensive and arduous process a little easier. 

6. Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey, 2017 - May 16, 2017:

Control Engineering salary and career survey research shows an average salary of $96,045 in 2017, up slightly from the 2016 results; job satisfaction continues among respondents. Life-long learning remains critically important. To get youth interested in engineering, more investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and high-profile projects need to be made, respondents said. 

7. PLC object-oriented programming benefits - Oct. 7, 2016:

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is about organizing and simplifying program elements in an optimal way by using objects, methods, and properties. 

8. Small-scale automation projects - Aug. 5, 2016:

Inside Machines: How to get past time, money, and resource issues when executing small projects and specifying automation equipment and components. 

9. Ladder logic 106: One shots - July 25, 2016:

Different programmable logic controller (PLC) manufacturers use one shots to develop a scan that is exactly one scan in duration and can be generated from the rising or falling edge of the signal. 

Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media. Courtesy: CFE Media10. Tablet-based augmented reality helps predictive maintenance for pumps - Aug. 9, 2016:

IIoT Video: sensors on critical pumps can feed a system to help technicians or operators identify when failures are pending and improve energy efficiency. A major U.S. refinery will host a pilot pump diagnostic project, similar to an NIWeek 2016 stage demonstration held on Aug. 2. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) demo highlighted collaboration among Flowserve, PTC ThingWorx, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and National Instruments. It builds on a 2016 NIWeek augmented reality demo using a highly instrumented mountain bike. 

The list was developed using CFE Media's web analytics for stories viewed on, July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, for articles published over that timeframe.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

ONLINE extra

This September Think Again column contains more information, images, and links. Joy Chang, digital project manager for CFE Media, pulled the results using Google Analytics.

Also see: CFE Edu Introduction to PLCs

Hot topics in Control Engineering for 2016, 2017 

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