Top Control Engineering articles, June 2013

The most-visited articles at during June 2013 included: System Integrator Giants of 2013, SIS standards, PID math, industrial networks, human process control, industrial wireless networks, and switch selection, among others.

By Mark T. Hoske July 2, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles during June 2013 at included: System Integrator Giants of 2013, SIS standards, PID math, industrial networks, human process control, industrial wireless networks, switch selection, process risk assessment, NASA services, maintenance and plant performance, automation business advice, and 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 (May and June 2013) and those posted prior to May 2013. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages during June 2013. A link to each article or page is provided. 

June 2013 most-read online articles, among those posted in May and June 2013 

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.

Understanding SIS industry standards – May 14 – Process safety standards and practices are spreading from oil and gas and other energy-related industries to broader process industry applications. Here’s basic advice on how to make more sense of the numbers and acronyms [such as SIS – safety instrumented systems]. 

PID math demystified, part 2 – May 13 – You’ve seen the equations, but have you thought about how those elements work together? Part 2: Adding integral and derivative to the mix.

7 reasons to a consider a non-Ethernet industrial network – June 5 – Here are seven reasons non-Ethernet networks might be specified for an industrial project, to help determine if an Ethernet, fieldbus, or a device or sensor-level network should be considered. 

Beyond automation: Humans as process controllers – June 2 – While automated control systems can keep our manufacturing processes running efficiently, new variables are entering into the production equation that are beyond what we can expect from PID. In an interview, Peter Martin explains forces pushing a return to humans as controllers to accommodate these changes, at least for a while. 

How wireless networks are changing industrial environments – June 4 – IEEE 802.15.4 based wireless networks can be reliable, robust, and cost effective for many industrial, warehousing, and facility applications. These wireless networks transmit through walls and floors, reducing wiring and routing challenges, and making equipment placement more flexible and productive. 

PID math demystified, part 1 – posted May 6 – You’ve seen the equations, but have you thought about how those elements work together? Part 1: The basic concepts and proportional control.

5 steps to select a basic switch – June 23 – A precision snap-action switch, commonly used to detect temperature, position, and liquid levels, is typically available in three models. Here are five steps to select the right basic switch for an application.

Process risk assessment uses big data – June 3 – Technology Update: Predictive, process risk assessment can use big data to assess risks dynamically and report automatically, empowering plant personnel to identify issues, taking necessary preventive measures to address them, avoiding a related shutdown incident or accident. 

NASA becomes service provider for private space ventures – May 6 – After the Space Shuttle program closed, launching systems get a new life with new customers, with new requirements for monitoring services. The tricky side of measuring helium and nitrogen use calls for sophisticated flowmeters.

A straightforward maintenance strategy yields improved plant performance – May 4 – Moving from reactive to preventive maintenance helps Monsanto improve output and reduce costs at its Muscatine plant. Smart field devices and control valve positioners provide critical diagnostic data to reliability engineers, guiding their efforts. 

Will your automation business survive, thrive? – June 6 – Accounting for engineers: Beyond engineering, system integrators and other automation and controls companies rely on non-operational skills, like finance, to stay afloat. Accounting can be obtuse, and a mid-market business can sink—unseen—into insolvency, without attention to key metrics, said Nick Setchell, CEO, Practice Strategies, at the CSIA 2013 Executive Conference. Video gives more advice.

Process safety: Managing process safety with flexible IO – June 14 – Industrial facilities should approach safety and security holistically by addressing critical requirements from the process control network to the perimeter of the plant.

Most read online Control Engineering articles during June among those posted prior to May 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 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.

How to lower PLC software costs – PLC vendors make much more profit from software licenses than they do selling hardware. Smart shopping can avoid some of those fees. Advice for lowering PLC licensing fees follows.

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.

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.

Evolving PID tuning rules – A brief history, starting with the earliest PID controllers to the most recent developments. There is more continuity than you might expect.

PLC: Switches, Circuits, and Basic Functions and Sensors and I/O – Learn the basics of switches, circuits, and basic functions of programmable logic controllers. These tutorials offer on-demand videos that discuss the basics of control, the configuration of multiple circuits, basic items users need to know to master PLCs, and more. (Video series)

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

System 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…

Vortex flowmeters help optimize efficiency and energy usage for arc furnaces – Rosemount vortex flowmeters help MORE s.r.l. optimize steel quality, minimize oxygen and fuel consumption in its arc furnaces.

Fundamentals of lambda tuning – Understanding a particularly conservative PID controller design technique.

Pages: Most popular Control Engineering pages in May follow

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

Search Control Engineering

Control Engineering Digital Edition 

Magazine Archives for Control Engineering 

New Products 



Events and Awards 

Media Library 

Online Training Center for Engineers – Control Engineering

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

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.

Subscribe to Control Engineering newsletters 

PLC and PAC products 

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. 

Case Study Database Listing – Control Engineering’s case study database will allow end users to identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects. Users will be able to search the case study database based on industry, engineering specialties, and systems.



Contact us 

Also see …


Motors and drives products 

White papers 

– 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.