Top 10 Control Engineering topics for 2018

Think again: Hottest 2018 topics in automation, controls, and instrumentation are here, but don’t take my word for it; help write future history.

By Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering December 8, 2017

Prediction articles are fun, especially the 10 most important Control Engineering topics for 2018. These are difficult choices, given the 2018 topics at Selections are based on past site traffic, discussions, and input from our research, and my observations in industry since 1987, but don’t take my word for it. Think again about what’s important to you, prioritize your list, and help write the future of Control Engineering. Learn how at

Predicted top automation topics, 2018

1. Controllers: factory automation control, process control systems, edge computing, embedded controls, motion controls, and robotics controls (and robotic designs) are advancing quickly.

2. Product innovation in automation, controls, and instrumentation: Engineers’ Choice Awards are announced in February; these products can help increase the effectiveness of your next implementation.

3. Career and salary survey: Benchmarking provides comparisons; next steps and other advice are provided.

4. Advanced controls include proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control: acquiring, analyzing, and integrating input from advanced sensing to optimize closed-loop control and make open-loop control designs more effective.

5. Communications: advanced industrial Ethernet and wireless communications connect the sensors, controllers, and actuators of the control loop and put information where it’s needed for smarter, faster, and more cost-effective decisions, whether automated or not.

6. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) device and system integration ensure that information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT) are working more effectively together, locally and connected to an increasing wealth of cloud-based resources, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analytics, and 3-D printing ecosystems.

7. Cybersecurity: Advances in packet inspection and device designs augment cybersecurity even as a greater amount of training and higher levels of awareness are required. Like safety, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.

8. Engineering Leaders Under 40: Annual recognition (in September) of upcoming talent fueling the next-generation of innovations in automation, controls, and instrumentation.

9. Training is increasingly important as the demographic crunch continues, and more-intuitive human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and next-generation augmented reality (AR) hardware and software are helping.

10. Energy efficiency, especially measurement and monitoring to make energy a controlled resource of the manufacturing processes, and linked to enterprise and supply chain systems. Sensors, motor and motion efficiency, and networking play critical roles.

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