Hottest articles of '04

Here are the hottest Control Engineering Online articles of 2004, based on number of times each piece was opened in electronic form. If you missed any of these the first time around, you'll want to go to this column online and print them, or save the links. Connections to each item appear with this piece online, in Archives, February 2005, at www.


Here are the hottest Control Engineering Online articles of 2004, based on number of times each piece was opened in electronic form. If you missed any of these the first time around, you'll want to go to this column online and print them, or save the links. Connections to each item appear with this piece online, in Archives, February 2005, at .

1. Control Engineering Weekly News: This weekly e-mail newsletter clinched the top spot for electronic readership in 10 of 12 months, and for 20 of the top 25 individual spots during 2004. This shows the thirst for high-quality information written, edited, and distilled by Control Engineering editors. (If you're not getting Control Engineering Weekly News, you can subscribe for free to that and other enewsletters by going to and clicking on the Newsletters button at the top of the page.)

2. 'Is Linux at the Gates of the Factory?' Interest in Linux, open-source code, scalable architecture, and that developer community make this intensely useful for end-users, OEMs, and system integrators for industrial automation.

3. '5 ways control engineers can better manage small projects.' With many hats worn by those involved with automation, controls, and instrumentation, any added efficiency is highly appreciated. This appeared in the System Integration email newsletter and in the Automation Integrator Guide supplement, December 2004.

4. 'Service, Advancement, Impact' (2003 Editors' Choice Awards). Everyone is seeking an edge, and these best products and technologies selected by Control Engineering editors remain of strong interest.

5. '10 tips for better grounding.' Gremlins caused by grounding continue to plague control systems systems; these tips have been well received and often accessed online.

6. ' Control Engineering launches online 'e-book' collection of Back to Basics tutorials.' Thirst for tutorials remains high. 'Back to Basics' is one of the most popular departments read in the print edition. For reference and convenience, we've transferred the pieces into a series of online e-books in the Control Engineering Resource Center Library.

7. 'Wireless I/O World.' I/O modules, the glue for connecting to any process, have plugged into wireless capabilities to ensure easier connections for many applications. Readers seek higher efficiencies, speed, and flexibilities offered with these technologies.

8. 'eBay launches industrial automation category.' Many want to see if an eBay purchase might meet their needs and save a buck, or a few grand.

For links to these and other highly clicked-into articles of 2004, see this column online. You'll also find other statistical observations and opinions. Enjoy these most-popular online resources.

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief

Online Extra

Most-clicked into pieces in 2004

Here are links for the top eight items mentioned above, and the top 20 items written in 2004, as clicked into last year at Control Engineering Online, Also below are links to other items, written prior to last year, and still clicked into quite a lot.

Also, you won’t have to wait for next year’s analysis of the most-popular clicked-into items; Control Engineering ’s home page now shows the top five articles of the previous month.


1. Control Engineering Weekly News . Subscribe to this free Control Engineering email news service, along with other topical newsletters, at at top, under Newsletters. Also, click into the individual items that comprise the newsletters under Latest News.

Is Linux at the Gates of the Factory?

3. 5 ways control engineers can better manage small projects

Service, Advancement, Impact (2003 Editors’ Choice Awards)

5. 10 tips for better grounding
6. Control Engineering

launches online “e-book” collection of Back to Basics tutorials


Wireless I/O World: I/O modules


eBay launches industrial automation category


ABB extends DCS


Temperature control: PID vs. Fuzzy Logic

11. April Fool 2004 : news and products I’d like to see. This is the only known piece of fiction on the site, and it ranked fourth highest among online items read that month, as well as 11th for the year. I guess a lot of people need a laugh around tax time.

Engineers more motivated by problems to solve than pay


SoftWire’s patent infringement


10 Design Tips for Machine Control


Increasing applications, expanding regional use fueling PLC market


Got Field-Oriented Control in Your Servos?

17. ISA releases study guide for certifying automation professionals
18. ZigBee Alliance grows to more than 90 members; includes Freescale

Demystify PID Controller Design


Exclusive: Schneider Electric reorganizes U.S. automation, control sales group

Brutality of statistics
Apologies for the brutality of a calendar-year assessment, where reading trends that start in December don’t get fair treatment beyond that point. I feel obligated, therefore, to mention the highest ranked item online in December 2004, not mentioned previously, was “Exclusive: Four German Automakers standardize on Profinet.” Interest in networking, especially options for Ethernet, including Profinet, remains high among readers called upon to transfer intelligence from manufacturing to other areas of the enterprise and supply chain, rapidly and efficiently.

Favorites written prior to 2004
Five leading articles on the site written prior to 2004 rated highly among readers last year. Three of the five include information about loop tuning and proportional-integral-derivative (PID).

How to read P&IDs

” (piping and instrumentation diagrams), August 2000, rated among the top-read pieces in 11 of 12 months.

(Resource Center)
Process Controller Tuning Guidelines ,” August 1999, provides a refresher on process control loop analysis and tuning. Readers continue to learn how to track and decrease the error between the process variable and the setpoint.
Loop Tuning Fundamentals ,” July 2003, explains that PID loop tuning may not be magic, but its intricacies do lie somewhere between science and art. Tuning tips help craft efficiency into processes, with the widely used PID controller. This item consistently ranked among leading articles clicked into for 10 of 12 months in 2004.
Ethernet Hits Real-Time...Really ,” December 2003, shows that Ethernet remains a hot topic, as readers sort out the many efforts designed to help Ethernet serve in real-time applications. Among these is IEEE 1588, which synchronizes clocks in distributed networks.
PID: Still the One ,” October 2003, shows why, after more than 60 years after the introduction of PID controllers, PID remains the workhorse of industrial process control.

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