Making engineering choices

Engineers and plant managers face a constant barrage of choices that affect the day-to-day operations and the bottom line for plants.

By Jack Smith October 20, 2015

Whether upgrading, designing, or maintaining, automation engineers are faced with a plethora of choices.

Lately, process plants seem to be having problems that affect day-to-day operations and, ultimately, the bottom line. Even though external issues may be to blame, the resulting uncertainty can influence fiscal priorities. Major control system upgrades or DCS migration projects may have to be put on hold for a while. The cover story in this issue of AppliedAutomation explores alternatives to major upgrades. The author explains that smaller scale improvements to secondary process control systems can help reduce operating costs and improve process performance.

Whether the industry is process, discrete, or somewhere in between, an often-overlooked issue is thermal management of enclosures. The second story in this issue focuses on techniques for maintaining temperatures inside these enclosures to protect electrical and electronic equipment, each of which has advantages and disadvantages.

Filtration can present critical bottlenecks in water/wastewater treatment processes. The third article in this issue provides strategies for improving filtration control equipment uptime through diagnostics and remote troubleshooting. According to the authors, "Advances in control technology … allow integrated point diagnostic information to be available locally via supervisory control and data acquisition, [an] integrated Web server, or accessed remotely over an Ethernet connection."

The fourth article explains the challenges that OEMs encounter when different engineering disciplines aren’t on the same design page from the get go. As the author points out, "By using a mechatronics approach from the onset of a project, electrical, mechanical, and software engineers can address the actual product a customer wants to handle."

This article appears in the Applied Automation supplement for Control Engineering and Plant Engineering

– See other articles from the supplement below.