Top Control Engineering articles for 2014

Think Again: What noncontrol people should know about control engineers, inside the competition to create the first PLC, PID tuning for a faster response, the future of PLCs, Microsoft Windows XP, and System Integrator Giants were among the top 20 Control Engineering stories posted during 2014, based on online traffic for the year. See article titles and descriptions below. Link online to each top 20 article, including 20 more most-read articles in 2014 that were posted in 2013 or before.


In the photo, inoLECT of Baton Rouge is training powerhouse operators on new 50-in. touchscreens. What’s under the hood? It integrates seven systems from five vendors, all with a common interface. Courtesy: Byte SizeLeading Control Engineering articles among the top 20 for 2014 covered what noncontrol people should know about control engineers, inside the competition to create the first PLC, PID tuning for a faster response, the future of PLCs, Microsoft Windows XP, System Integrator Giants, PID math, salary and career survey, and best products (Engineers' Choice Awards), based on online traffic for the year. With this article online, link directly to each article, below. These Control Engineering articles help those involved with controls, automation, and instrumentation to be more useful and more valuable to those they serve, inside and outside of their organizations. Share this knowledge by emailing this link or links to individual articles to your peers.

Readers' online reading habits, such as those below, with direct reader feedback helped shape the Control Engineering 2015 editorial calendar.  

Methodology notes: Because articles posted later in 2014 have less chance of showing up in this ranking, this online version of this article includes the 20 most-read articles of 2014 that were posted in 2013 or earlier. Also note that in prior years, Engineers' Choice Awards ranked higher, when we added related pages in the total. This year, only the article page for Engineers' Choice Awards is included in the tally.

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Also search "top 5" here for a weekly tally of the most read online among those posted in the last two months. The Top 5 newsletter shows monthly leaders; if you don't receive that, you may subscribe to the Top 5 newsletter here.

Top 20 articles of 2014

Top 20 Control Engineering articles read during 2014, among those posted during 2014.

1. 7 things noncontrol people should know about control engineers - May 5 

A few basic differences between control engineers and others in the plant can hinder progress toward optimization. Start a conversation to improve communications and controls. See examples and career advice. Send a link to these seven things other people should know about control engineers, so they understand. [A follow-up to this article appears in the January 2015 issue, "7 things control engineers should know about management."]

In April of 1968, a young Hydra-Matic engineer, Dave Emmett, proposed the development of what he called a “Standard Machine Controller.” The controller he envisioned would replace the relay systems that controlled machine operations. Courtesy: RedViking2. Inside the competition for the first PLC - Aug. 27

The race to develop the first programmable logic controllers was underway inside General Motors' Hydra-Matic Transmission Division in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1970. Three finalists had very different architectures.

3. Tuning PID control loops for fast response - July 1 

When choosing a tuning strategy for a specific control loop, it is important to match the technique to the needs of that loop and the larger process. It is also important to have more than one approach in your repertoire, and the Cohen-Coon method can be a handy addition in the right situation.

4. Future of the PLC - Aug. 26 

PLCs are evolving and continue to be the best option for a variety of industrial automation applications. Greater programming flexibility and ease, scalability, more memory, smaller sizes, very high-speed (Gigabit) Ethernet, and built-in wireless are among evolving programmable logic controller features.

5. Goodbye Windows XP; Hello IsXP? - March 31 

Microsoft Windows XP support ends April 8. What happens April 9? Three things to remember. NEW: Updated with answers to reader feedback on April 14.

6. System Integrator Giants of 2014 - Aug. 13

The 2014 System Integrator Giants boast a $396 million increase in system integration revenue, a greater concern for the economy's impact on the automation integrator market, and a strong belief in educational and mentoring programs for employees.

7. PID math demystified, part 4 - June 10 

You've seen the equations, but have you thought about how those elements work together? Part 4: Feed forward

8. Control Engineering salary and career survey, 2014 - May 8

Control Engineering research: While slightly more is expected for salary and slightly less for bonuses in 2014 compared to 2013, concerns about shortages of skilled workers increased significantly, by seven percentage points since last year. In addition, the percentage of employees saying they worked 15 or more years and 30 or more years in their industries dropped by four percentage points each. Safety is significantly more important for bonuses. See more graphics and details online, with links to past research.

9. 2014 Engineers' Choice Awards: Spotlight on Innovation 

Best automation, control, and instrumentation products in 23 categories.

10. Fixing PID, Part 2 - April 28 

Proportional-integral-derivative controllers may be ubiquitous, but they're not perfect. 

Figure 1b: Migrated display, with some basic layout principles applied. Courtesy: Human Centered Solutions11. Creating an ASM-compliant HMI goes deeper than screen color selection - June 11

Simply adopting ASM guidelines for graphics does not create an ASM-compliant HMI. Achieving that level of effectiveness involves a range of factors that address how people interact with the control system.

12. Tuning PID loops for level control - Oct. 30 

One-in-four control loops are regulating level, but techniques for tuning PID controllers in these integrating processes are not widely understood.

13. How to write a good process operation description document - Aug. 6 

Back to Basics: Describe your process to preserve the process engineer knowledge for the future. To program the process controller, programmable logic controller (PLC), or distributed control system (DCS), follow these steps and methodology, starting with understanding the requirements and documenting in a requirements document, also called a BPO, CFE, an FS, or URS. Online, see five tables and detailed examples.

14. Fundamentals of cascade control - Aug. 17 

Sometimes two controllers can do a better job of keeping one process variable where you want it.

15. HMI display design guideline book released - Jan. 9 

The ASM Consortium has released a second edition of HMI display design guidelines with a number of changes including consolidating the number of guidelines down to 64 and revising 50% of the guidelines overall.

16. Understanding pressure instrumentation - Jan. 9 

Measuring pressure is one of the most basic instrumentation functions in any industry. Pressure measurement devices are everywhere, and there are countless varieties of options.

17. Are Microsoft technologies still best for process control systems? - Feb. 25 

Engineering and IT Insight: Process control architects and designers are questioning the 15-year wisdom that you cannot go wrong by picking the Microsoft environment for a process control system. See 6 critical requirements for process controls.

18. PLCopen part 4 blurs the lines among PLCs, robotic, and motion control - March 18 

Inside Machines: The PLCopen working group for motion control has standardized and logically defined all aspects of machine control programming, providing one of the best attempts of integrating PLC, robot, and motion control in an easy-to-understand language common among many manufacturers.

19. Programming PLCs: Keep the documentation clear and simple - May 20

Poor programmable logic controller documentation and housekeeping can lead to unnecessary troubleshooting and downtime. Keep it simple to avoid the possible risks and confusion.

20. Automating automation: Why do smart devices have to be configured manually? - Oct. 9 

While smart instrumentation and field devices have highly sophisticated capabilities, configuration is still a mostly manual process. Users want to know why they still have to perform this action (and many others) the hard way. This is the Control Engineering October 2014 cover story for the print and digital edition.

- Click into the next page to learn more about the most popular stories posted prior to 2014.

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