Top Control Engineering articles, February 2013

Most-visited articles at during February 2013 included the following topics: Plant-floor virtualization, robots vs. jobs, PLC vs. PAC, servodrive control, dynamic process simulation, intelligent field device standard, and cyber security, among others.

By Mark T. Hoske March 26, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles during February 2013 at included these topics: Plant-floor virtualization, robots vs. jobs, PLC vs. PAC, servodrive control, dynamic process simulation, intelligent field device standard, cyber security, robotic collaboration outside enclosures, and HMI design, among others.

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 (January and February 2013) and those posted prior to January 2013. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages during February 2013.

Most-read online articles in February 2013, among those posted in January and February 2013

Virtualization on the plant floor – posted Feb. 4

While IT networks already use virtualization extensively, its benefits are moving into industrial networks. Five diverse viewpoints on its advantages and implementation are offered.

Robots vs. jobs: Jobs win – posted Feb. 4

Think Again: Smart applications of automation and robotics save and create jobs. Proposed Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation could advance manufacturing more quickly.

PLC vs. PAC – posted Feb. 4

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.

Servodrive control
– posted Feb. 13

Cover story: Smaller, faster, higher accuracy, and easier to use are among servodrive control advances. Servodrive controls offer high accuracy and repeatability for precise applications, as shown in the cover application video and in the articles, explanations, and examples about each.

Dynamic simulation predicts steam consumption in unpredictable paper mill application – posted Jan. 4

Langerbrugge mill used simulation analysis to make sure the boiler and steam system could remain stable even during the biggest disruption: a turbine trip.

New standard developing for intelligent process field devices – posted Feb. 19

ISA108 aims at developing guidelines and work processes for effective use of smart devices and the information they generate in process applications. Video: Herman Storey and Larry O’Brien discuss the underlying user cases for the new standard.

New industrial cyber security video training series – posted Feb. 11

Learn the basics of industrial cyber security concepts in this 13-part series with Matt Luallen, consultant, trainer, and author. Watch one segment as a free sample.

Universal Robots collaborate outside enclosures – posted Jan. 2

Since Universal Robots launched in North America in September 2012, the user-friendly, lightweight robot arms from Denmark have been met with overwhelming interest from distributors and customers, the company said. Return on investment is 3-8 months; 80% operate without enclosures. Link to videos.

Creating an HMI that doesn’t get used – posted Jan. 3

When that new equipment skid or machine comes in, it probably has its own HMI, but that equipment will be controlled from a larger system. What should you want that redundant HMI to do?

Online thermowell calculation tool – posted Jan. 28

Emerson Process Management launches free online thermowell design calculator that incorporates the new ASME PTC 19.3 standard. Video discusses the tool

What does statistical process control really do? – posted Feb. 12

Real World Engineering blog: Some sophisticated math can help you make your manufacturing more consistent and identify production problems sooner.

Robotics: Higher speeds, more power, programming advances – posted Jan. 31

Yaskawa Motoman high-speed robots, gateway that allows PLC programming and open programming support, two-arm robots, multi-language support, career fair, and expansion among Automate 2013 announcements.

Most read online Control Engineering articles posted prior to January 2013

2013 Engineers’ Choice AwardsControl 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.

Apps for EngineersProduct 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Optimizing strategy for boiler drum level controlAvoid trips and maximize steam output by reviewing your control equipment, strategy, and tuning.

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.

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