Data flow, alarms, simulation, cybersecurity, robotics

Control Engineering highlights automation, controls and instrumentation successes in every issue at in between.

By Mark T. Hoske December 20, 2020

Automation, controls, and instrumentations are critical, innovative, interesting and productive, and Control Engineering offers information on Boeing’s automation adjustments to its 737 Max and developments on data flow, alarm design, digital twins and simulation efficiency, cybersecurity and robotic programming, among others.

Data flow optimization – Technology Update from Chris Adam, Purdue University: Current cloud technologies using automated decision making often only work for short and repeat tasks and workloads. The team created an optimal configuration to handle long-running, dynamic workloads, whether it be workloads from the ubiquitous sensor networks in connected farms or high-performance computing workloads from scientific applications or the current COVID-19 simulations from different parts of the world in a rush to find the cure against the virus.

Alarm design and management – Technology Update from Martyn Hilbers, PLC-Easy: When sitting down to discuss and design a new automation system, should the question “do we need alarm acknowledgement” be in the top 10 of our requirement list when selecting and/or developing an automation system? If this question is on top of the list and answered “No,” the implications is that the system is expected to perform at a higher automated level, is actively applying alarm rationalization and ultimately requires less operator interaction.

Digital twins and simulation cost savings – cover story from Colm Gavin, Siemens Digital Industries Software: Successful fulfillment center operation requires increasing application of digitalization and efficient automation concepts, especially focused on removing costs and reducing risks when installing new material handling equipment. To remain competitive with other companies and maintain the capacity to fill incoming orders, businesses must increase fulfillment speeds. Advanced simulation software addresses these and other issues by bringing together the software and live equipment worlds. This enables optimization of a warehouse environment first in software – where creating prototypes and modifying the process is relatively inexpensive and simple – so the resulting real-world deployment operates efficiently. Though simulation demands time, money, and attention, the benefits often outweigh the costs.

IT helps OT – cybersecurity article from Larry O’Brien, ARC Advisory Group: Secure-by-design principles apply to software, devices and networks. Many of today’s commercially-available products and applications were not developed using these principles. Security by design does not absolve the end user from following good cybersecurity practice, project implementation or operations work processes. Other strategies include supply chain cybersecurity, provenance (determining where system computing components like chipsets come from and their inherent levels of security) and other issues.

Robotic programming article from Michael Castor, Yaskawa Motoman Robotics Division: Flexibility provided by offline programming software for robotics offers many perks and enables a higher mix of jobs with a simple transition from one job to the next. Similarly, larger companies with multiple locations and/or workcells may be able to reduce programming time and inconsistencies by distributing the programmed job from a central, controlled source. Furthermore, improvements in sensor technology for tasks such as robotic welding have come a long way in the recent past, providing considerable advantages for end users spanning diverse industries.

Think again about what automation, controls and instrumentation innovation can do to advance your world.

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


Don’t forget to:

– Picture engineering inspiration

– Write 2021 articles

– Review the finalists, vote for the best Engineers’ Choice products through December.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.