Top Control Engineering articles, March 2013

The most-visited articles at during March 2013 included the following topics: PID tuning evolution, salary and career survey 2013, remote I/O, model-based control, Statue of Liberty motion control, virtualization, robotic survival checklist, and cloud-based APC, among others.

By Mark T. Hoske April 4, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles during March 2013 at included these topics: PID tuning evolution, salary and career survey 2013, remote I/O technologies, model-based control, Statue of Liberty motion control, virtualization, robotic survival checklist, cloud-based advanced process control, automation project roadmap, and regenerative power for energy efficiency, 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 (February and March 2013) and those posted prior to February 2013. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages during March 2013. A link to each article is provided. 

March 2013 most-read online articles, among those posted in February and March 2013 

Evolving PID tuning rules – posted March 13 – A brief history, starting with the earliest PID controllers to the most recent developments. There is more continuity than you might expect. 

Control Engineering salary and career survey, 2013 – posted March 25 – 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 is included.  

New approaches for remote I/O installations – March 11 – New modular I/O technologies increase your options for communication with field instrumentation and devices. These are particularly useful when longer distances are involved.

Do-it-yourself model-based control – March 13 – When regulatory control can’t do the job, and you can’t find an off-the-shelf APC package, your only option may be to build your own. It’s not easy, but it can be done and good ones can make a world of difference. 

Motion control: Statue of Liberty rescue elevator – posted March 18 – Application Update: At the Statue of Liberty, the new fast, efficient rescue elevator features a smooth ride to the top, ensured by a motor drive, to improve safety, emergency access, and evacuation for the crown jewel of U.S. statues and tourist destinations.

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.

Checklist for robotic survival – March 1 – Roboticists who ignore one or more of three principles when designing robots will fail, and many do. Six systems require attention for mobile robotics. 

Advanced process control in the cloud – Feb. 22 – Engineering and IT Insight: When considering which applications to move to the cloud to reduce costs, consider moving advanced process control (APC) model building and APC model validation tools—usually lightly used and usually not mission critical. Learn three types of cloud-based services.

Automation project road map: Advice for the journey – Feb. 28 – Project management advice: Thinking of the automation project as a journey helps ensure safe and secure arrival, while keeping project detours and road bumps to a minimum. Planning, schedule, validation, and follow-up are key. 

Regenerative power units save energy – March 13 – Spindle drives, decanter centrifuges, hoists, cranes, elevators, and torque dynamometer test rigs can save energy from frequent run and stop, deceleration with high inertia load, and overhauling torque by using a regenerative power unit. One application saves 54% of the power used, $1,017 per year. 

Robots optimize analysis of sugar beets at Nordic Sugar – March 22 – Nordic Sugar worked with distributor AH Automation to install user friendly, reliable robots without enclosures or robotic experts. “Now we can invest in new robots instead of buying spare parts for the old ones.” 

Commercial tablets get industrial enclosures – March 25 – Making tablets rugged: Industrial-grade environmental protection can help ruggedize and protect Apple iPad, Google Android, and other tablet computers. 

Industrial wireless: Bluetooth can be robust, easy to use – Feb. 25 – Technology Update: Bluetooth offers optimal features to satisfy industrial requirements of robustness, reliability, and seamless, coexistent operation with Wireless LAN networks. In addition to low power consumption, Bluetooth allows for multiple wireless links, offers fast connections, and has easier configuration and setup than many other wireless technologies.

New robotic safety regulations are pending – March 15 – Robotics, subject to many safety regulations, are about to get a few more, addressing some technological advances for robots. See video summary.

Build OS-neutral, mobile interfaces for automation, monitoring, control applications – Feb. 26 – Opto 22 groov is a new system for building simple, effective web-based interfaces to monitor and control systems and equipment using computers and mobile devices. With only a Web browser, Opto 22 groov allows fast building and deployment of Web-based automation, monitoring, and control applications that work on most computers and mobile devices regardless of operating system.

Most read online Control Engineering articles during March among those posted prior to February 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 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. Oftentimes, 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.

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.

Make your I/O smarter – Improvements in I/O systems for field devices can make your process control system installations and upgrades quicker and more cost effective. 

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.

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Pages: Most popular Control Engineering pages in March 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.