Top Control Engineering articles, December 2012

The most-visited articles at during December 2012 included the following topics: best products, fixing PID, mobile apps, System Integrator of the Year winners and prior winners, System Integrator Giants, feedback controllers, VFD selection, HART communication, level control, and lean manufacturing, among others.
By Mark T. Hoske January 7, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles for December 2012 at included these topics: Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Award finalists, how to fix PID, Apps for Engineers, System Integrator of the Year winners and prior winners, System Integrator Giants, feedback controllers, VFD selection, HART communication, level control, lean manufacturing, and flowmeter selection, among others. (Note that we post fresh control engineering content each business day, so some articles posted later in the month don’t get as much time for exposure as those posted earlier.) More about each article and links follow. 

2013 Engineers’ Choice Awards – Finalists

Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering’s print and online subscribers. Subscribers to the North American print and digital editions are asked to select the best products based on technological advancement, service to the industry, and market impact. Winners will be announced in February.

Fixing PID

Proportional-Integral-Derivative controllers may be ubiquitous, but they’re not perfect. 

Apps for Engineers

Product Exclusive: CFE Media’s Apps for Engineers software is an “app of apps,” providing an interactive directory of approximately 60 mobile engineering-related software applications useful for Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer areas of coverage.

Representing the 2013 System Integrators of the Year are (from left) Sam Hoff, Jerry Smith, and Todd Williams, leaders of Patti Engineering, Integrity Integration Resources, and SAIC Energy, Environment & Infrastructure, respectively. CFE Media photo by PSystem Integrators of the Year for 2013

Automation Integrator Guide cover story: Control Engineering recognizes the best system integrators in the industrial automation business. The winners are…

System Integrator Giants of 2012

These 100 firms represent the largest system integrators of 2012, from among 2,334 in the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide.

Control Engineering System Integrator Hall of Fame

Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories (based on the size of the organization). Three general criteria are considered for the selection of winners: business skills, technical competence, and customer satisfaction. Winners are then inducted into our System Integrator Hall of Fame. This page was updated in December 2012 with the class of 2013.

This strip chart shows a process variable (black line) responding to a setpoint change (green line) in a case where the controller has been tuned to be particularly aggressive about eliminating slack between the two as soon as possible.Feedback controllers do their best

But meeting a specific performance measure is harder than it looks.

How to select a VFD – These guidelines dispel the confusion about matching variable frequency drives (VFD) and motors to fans and pumps that are typically encountered in commercial building applications. While the motivation to increase energy efficiency could be financial (reduced energy costs) or ethical (reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with power production), it is taken for granted that VFDs are an easy way to improve energy efficiency in a motor application. And with these noble intentions in mind, the engineer will specify a VFD for his client. Oftentimes, that isn’t the end of the story for the engineer.

Figure 2: This diagram illustrates the required filtering, signal detection, modulation, demodulation, and signal generation included in a HART modem.Making HART communicate

HART-enabled process instrumentation is everywhere, but how does it communicate? New chip designs support this time-tested protocol.

Optimizing strategy for boiler drum level control

Avoid trips and maximize steam output by reviewing your control equipment, strategy, and tuning.

Successful lean manufacturing implementation: 5 fundamental jigsaw pieces

Implementing lean manufacturing requires participants to review job environment and satisfaction, motivate participation, demand leadership responsibility, develop new behavior patterns, and insist on lean methods and tools.

Figure 1: This multivariable transmitter is designed to compensate for static pressure and process temperature changes to optimize flow measurement accuracy. According to ARC, intelligent multivariable pressure transmitters provide improvements in measureOptimizing flowmeter selection

Using a best-in-class flowmeter selection methodology can help users avoid surprises and reduce lifecycle costs by identifying the optimal flow meter for virtually any flow application.

Additional highly read articles online during December follow, below. 

Disturbance-Rejection vs. Setpoint-Tracking ControllersDesigning a feedback control loop starts with understanding its objective as well as the process’s behavior.

SmartBird from Festo is hand launched to start a flight at Pack Expo 2012. CFE Media photo by Frank J. BartosRobotic bird flies at Pack Expo 2012 – Festo Corp.’s SmartBird, a bionic, lifelike herring gull replica capable of autonomous flight via remote control, was demonstrated a Pack Expo 2012, continuing the company’s work that emulates nature to help advance industrial automation products.

Substation automation and automation of the control house – In place of hardwired control panels of the past, some sort of a human machine interface is being installed in substations.

How close are we to a truly Smart Grid? There are still hurdles to overcome, at least in the U.S., before the Smart Grid becomes reality.

Large touchscreen HMI offers full PLC capability – PLC built into 12.1-in. HMI from Unitronics can support 24 loops and 1,000 I/O points.

UML use cases, sequence diagrams: easily converted into executable code – Engineering and IT Insight: UML (Unified Modeling Language) is the language of software engineering, and State Models in UML are used to define internal logic. When state diagrams, use case diagrams, and sequence diagrams are combined with UML class diagrams they define a system, can be easily understood by non-programmers, and can be rapidly converted into executable code.

Industrial RFID trends – Factory automation RFID technology trends differ from those of logistics or commercial RFID systems. Factory floor RFID components are more industrial and hardened for less downtime, with faster data acquisition.

A look at the Smart Grid’s demand side – Automation industry exec says this is where users can “Do something now” while waiting for the Smart Grid to take shape.

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– Compiled by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

Coming soon: Top Control Engineering articles of 2012. 

Also see: Top Control Engineering articles of 2011 and best read of prior months, below.

Engineering interaction: Which articles did you find to be most useful and why? Leave a comment below.

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