Top Control Engineering articles, December 2013

The most-visited articles at during December 2013 included: building diversity in the engineering profession, System Integrator of the Year, tutorials on flowmeters and optimizers, project planning, data acquisition, control panel troubleshooting, automation tips, and more.
By Mark T. Hoske January 6, 2014

Representing the 2014 System Integrators of the Year are (from left) Dr. Vladimir Morenko, Director General of Insist Avtomatika; Richard Seale, President of the Automation Business Unit at Wood Group Mustang; and Bijan Shams, President of Cogent IndustriMost-read Control Engineering online articles during December 2013 at included: building diversity in the engineering profession, System Integrator of the Year, tutorials on flowmeters and optimizers, project planning, data acquisition, control panel troubleshooting, automation tips, documentation, automated guided vehicles, and other articles.

Because Control Engineering posts fresh content each business day, some articles posted later in the month don’t get as much time for exposure as those posted earlier. Therefore, articles are divided into two sections: Those posted during the past two months (November and December 2013) and those posted prior to November 2013. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages during December 2013. A link to each article or page is provided. 

December 2013 most-read online articles, among those posted in November and December 2013

Building diversity in the engineering profession – Dec. 2

The next generation of engineers, and the one after that, may be much different. Video: Visiting where kids are learning what engineering is about and loving every minute.

Excellence in Automation: System Integrator of the Year Awards – Dec. 16

For 2014, Control Engineering recognizes the best automation system integrators in the business. 

Understanding differential pressure flowmeters – Dec. 18

Traditional flow measurement technique survives and thrives, often updated with current technology.

Understanding optimizers – Dec. 3

Tobias Scheele, vice president, design, simulation and optimization for Invensys explains how optimizers extend the ability to improve plant performance.

Penny wise and pound foolish – Dec. 3

A few appropriate costs early in a project can create major savings down the road and avoid a whole lot of aggravation in the process.

Figure 1: Modern RTUs combine advanced capabilities for automation, monitoring, and telemetry in a single unit. Courtesy: Honeywell Process SolutionsCapturing farflung data – Dec. 3

Advancements in RTU technologies help optimize data acquisition and control.

Avoid a control panel redesign – Dec. 5

Inside Machines: If you’re dropping packets with field networking for motion control and getting errors or alarms, consider these four sometimes counter-intuitive alternatives to a control panel redesign.

7 keys to successful automation – Nov. 11

A successful automation project does not need to be an unsolvable puzzle. Here are seven keys to a successful automation project. Courtesy: LeidosAutomation Integrator Guide: Successful automation projects contain these seven elements. How many will your next project contain?

Automate, integrate, optimize, and protect – Dec. 9

Think Again: Automation needs to be interconnected, optimized, and protected. Here’s why.

Classified-area control panels – Nov. 26

4 basic design concepts that could help avoid costly errors or worse.

Good vs. poor documentation: Don’t be ‘that guy’ – Dec. 17

A well organized and well documented system, complete with commentary within your code, can only help you and your fellow developers and programmers.

Magnets, sensors create paths for automated guided vehicles – Dec. 19

Application Update: An automated guided vehicle (AGV) can be built with as little as two components: a magnetic guide sensor and a dual-channel motor controller.

Most read online Control Engineering articles during December among those posted prior to November 2013 

Figure 1: This diagram of a Web-based client network shows how thin clients greatly enhance the ability to access SCADA systems remotely while saving on network costs. Courtesy: AutomationDirect Inc.Selecting the right SCADA technology – Oct. 11

Modern SCADA technologies offer choices that satisfy functionality and security requirements while improving performance for remote users.

How to select a VFD – These guidelines dispel the confusion about matching variable frequency drives (VFDs) 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 (reduced 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. Often, that isn’t the end of the story for the engineer.


These technologies continue to evolve, making differences harder to distinguish. Here are some thoughts on what does what, and how to choose between a PLC and a PAC for your next application.

Tuning thermal PID loops – When dealing with critical temperature applications, PID controllers are a common regulatory approach, but tuning these often requires a different strategy than other types of loops. Auto-tuning features can help if you understand them.

Inside Machines: PC versus PLC: Comparing control options

To choose between a PLC or PC, analyze and compare characteristics that could differentiate the two technologies, such as operation, robustness, serviceability, hardware integration, security, safety, programming, and cost. Graphics illustrate some key considerations.

2014 Engineers’ Choice Awards – Oct. 17

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. Vote now!

Transformer efficiency: Minimizing transformer losses – Matching a transformer to its anticipated load is a critical aspect of reducing energy consumption.

Control Engineering salary and career survey, 2013

Average annual base salary was $92,918 among respondents to the 2013 Control Engineering salary and career survey, with 70% expecting an increase and average bonus of $10,486. Best skills to get ahead are engineering skills, project management skills, communication and presentation skills, and computer skills. Other career advice follows.

System Integrator Giants of 2013 – The 100 firms on the System Integrator Giants list represent the largest system integrators of 2013, among the companies listed in the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide. In the survey, system integrator revenue is defined as automation integration services minus the cost of all off-the-shelf products: hardware, software, and equipment. The system integrators who responded to this survey provided information about engineering specialties, industries served, products integrated, associations/affiliations, and challenges from their industry.

How to size servo motors: Advanced inertia calculations

Inside Machines: To properly select the appropriate servo motor for a motion control application, find the inertia of the load being rotated. Applications where the center of rotation is on a different axis than the center of mass can lead to some challenging inertial calculations. 

Control Engineering Salary and Survey, Advice

Career Update: The 2012 Control Engineering salary and career survey showed enthusiasm for automation, controls, and instrumentation professions. Pay is up, and survey respondents encouraged those interested in engineering to continue learning. Strategies for workplace success follow.

Pages: Most popular Control Engineering pages in December follow

Registration Form – Login, edit registration, subscribe, or resubscribe to Control Engineering

Control Engineering home page 

Search Control Engineering

Control Engineering Digital Edition 

System Integration News 

Apps for Engineers – Apps for Engineers is an “app of apps” that is available on both the App Store and the Android Marketplace. It contains links to mobile applications that engineers in the Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer markets will find useful.

New Products 


Control Engineering Channels 

Industry News 

Events and Awards 

Education and Training 

eGuides – Topical collections of Control Engineering articles, with an additional content from a sponsor.

Subscribe to Control Engineering newsletters


Online Training Center 

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. 

Integrator Guide – Search the online Automation Integrator Guide. Selecting multiple criteria will narrow your search results. Integrators wishing to apply for their own listing can do so. 


PID, Adv. Control page  

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