Top Control Engineering articles, January 2013

The most-visited articles at during January 2013 included the following topics: U.S.-manufacturing of medium-voltage drives, decentralized process control, a new engineering research center, 5 ways to enable the next generation workforce, automation programming, and Ethernet communications, among others.

By Mark T. Hoske February 8, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles during January 2013 at included these topics: U.S.-manufacturing of medium-voltage drives, decentralized process control, a new engineering research center, 5 ways to enable the next generation workforce, automation programming, Ethernet communications, PID controller settings, machine safety, and top articles of 2012, 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, for the first time in this monthly tally, articles are divided into two sections: Those posted during the past two months (December 2012 and January 2013) and those posted prior to December 2012. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages in January 2013. 

January 2013: Most read online articles, among those posted in December 2012 or January 2013

Yaskawa commemorates first U.S. manufactured MV1000 medium-voltage Drives – Posted Dec. 27, 2012

The Kagami-Biraki sake ceremony celebrates the start of U.S. manufacturing of the Yaskawa MV1000 medium-voltage ac drives, first in that series of drives to be built in Oak Creek, Wis., with an investment in manufacturing and testing in excess of $3 million. See photo gallery from the ceremony and plant tour.

Decentralizing process control and information management – Posted Dec. 9

The “D” in DCS has always stood for distributed. While the technological drivers behind this networking strategy may have changed, do the basic concepts of distributed intelligence still apply?

Eaton dedicates new innovation, engineering center – Posted Jan. 14

Electrical reliability, efficiency, and safety were key points of emphasis during a Jan. 9 ribbon cutting, tour, and lunch for Eaton employees, media, and other selected guests at the new Menomonee Falls Innovation Center. See photo gallery and video clip.

Five ways to enable the next generation workforce – Posted Jan. 4

Automation future: Technology advances challenge and enable industries worldwide, and five key factors influence the success of future and current engineers in this dynamically changing labor market. 

Encapsulated data in automation programming – Posted Jan. 8

Using an element of object oriented programming can keep data organized and simplify writing code.

Integrator Update: Remote access programming – Posted Jan. 7

Internet promises of better remote access, monitoring, and tweaking of automation systems have been slowed by malware and other security issues; options are available for secure remote access programming.

Ethernet for sensor networks? Why it makes sense today – Posted Jan. 2

Active (or smart) enclosure-less I/O blocks, supporting industrial Ethernet, can be installed close to the sensors to eliminate logistic complexities of running wire back to a central control panel for each sensor and enable two-way communications among the I/O block and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote terminal units (RTUs).

Top Control Engineering articles for 2012 – Posted Jan. 14

Think Again: Control strategies, optimization, safety and security, and system integration were among top Control Engineering articles for 2012, based on online traffic. What advice here will help your 2013 be more productive?

Initial settings for PID controllers – Posted Jan. 15

Time to start the process? Here are some beginning PID values learned in the trenches that should get you off and running.

System Integrators of the Year for 2013 – Posted Dec. 17

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

Understanding machine safety analysis in the U.S. (Part 1) – Posted Dec. 11

If you struggle trying to figure out how OSHA, ANSI, and ISO relate, you’re not alone. Part 1: What does OSHA want?

Video: Meet the 2013 winning system integrators – Posted Dec. 17

Vance VanDoren interviews the 2013 Control Engineering System Integrator of the Year company representatives in an informal roundtable discussion. In an in-depth video discussion, the three consider the balance of technical vs. business skills as a factor ensuring success with customer projects.

Top Control Engineering articles, December 2012 – Posted Dec. 4

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.

Most read online Control Engineering articles posted prior to December 2012 

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. 

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.

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. 

Machine Safety: OSHA Top 10 Violations for 2012 – See the top five reasons why machine safety has become even more important in the past 10 years. Also see the Top 10 OSHA violations for 2012: Machine safety account for four. 

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.

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

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.

Successful lean manufacturing implementation: 5 fundamental jigsaw piecesImplementing 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.

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.

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. 

Pages: Most popular Control Engineering pages in January follow

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

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.