Top Control Engineering articles, May 2013

The most-visited articles at during May 2013 included: PID math demystified, lambda tuning, motor repair and replace advice, industrial Internet of things, maintenance strategy, safety integrated systems, mechatronics, project management, and robotics, among others.

By Mark T. Hoske June 19, 2013

Most-read Control Engineering online articles during May 2013 at included: PID math demystified, lambda tuning, motor repair and replace advice, industrial Internet of things, maintenance strategy, safety integrated systems, mechatronics, project management, robotics, simulation, safety controllers, industrial wireless monitoring, and security, 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 (April and May 2013) and those posted prior to April 2013. More about each article and links follow, along with links to the most-frequented Control Engineering pages during Mayl 2013. A link to each article or page is provided. 

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

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.

Fundamentals of lambda tuning – April 16 – Understanding a particularly conservative PID controller design technique.

Motor repair and replace by the numbers – May 9 – Calculating your efficiency will point the way to the right decision.

The Industrial Internet of Things – May 15 – Should industrial users embrace IP networking? It promises convergence of many technologies, but is it necessary or even beneficial? An examination of why and why not, what, and how. 

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.

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

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 integrated systems.]

Implementing mechatronics: Software engineers are different – May 22 – Embedded software development, a component of controls systems and mechatronics, differs from other engineering in key ways, according to respondents to recent Cambashi research interviews. 

Never do this just before leaving a project site – May 6 – Automation System Integration blog advises not to hurry to check off the last thing on a project list before leaving the site, especially late on a Friday. (When you’re in a hurry, if a device can be incompatible, it probably will be.)

Unified platform helps robotics for packaging – April 30 – Application Update: Multinational maker of secondary packaging systems, Cama Group, standardizes robotics on a unified platform to deliver simplified, high-speed automation software and hardware including a programmable automation controller (PAC), I/O modules, motors, servo drives, ac drives, and operator interfaces. 

Simulators use math to create virtual processes April 19 – Complex sets of equations can help designers of processes, objects, or control systems experiment and test solutions without prototypes.

Machine safety: PLC versus PAC, is there a difference for safety? – May 6 – Is PAC the newest PLC? Is there less risk for machine safety in using one or the other?

Industrial wireless monitoring and sensing – May 14 – Applying industrial wireless applications to monitoring and sensing can serve as a risk management policy. Strong communications address many challenges facility operators face during process transformations.

Hacked without knowing it – May 21 – Engineering and IT Insight: Cyber-criminals are stealing manufacturing companies’ intellectual property (IP). Is your lack of cyber security hardware, software, and best practices giving away millions of dollars of IP to unknown competitors without your knowledge?

Mechatronics: Electromechanical manufacturing systems – May 13 – A tightly integrated mechatronic system can reduce the machine footprint, shorten programming time, and eliminate dedicated hardware controllers.

Manufacturing in America targets next U.S. industrial evolution – June 3 – Manufacturing advocates say manufacturing drives innovation; more than 70% of manufacturing leaders are optimistic about their own company’s future; mechatronics graduates start at $50,000; liberal arts average $43,000 to start. 

Most read online Control Engineering articles during May among those posted prior to April 2013 

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.

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. 

Choosing Level Sensors – Measuring the amount of a substance, either liquid or solid, in a container is one of the most basic elements of process instrumentation and goes back to time immemorial. While we generally talk about measuring the level in a tank, in most situations the actual information desired is volume. Situations where a level measurement is desired for itself are far less common.

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.

Fixing PID – Proportional-integral-derivative controllers may be ubiquitous, but they’re not perfect.

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.

Motion control: Statue of Liberty rescue elevator – 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.

Disturbance Rejection vs. Setpoint Tracking Controllers – Designing a feedback control loop starts with understanding its objective as well as the process’s behavior.

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.

Information systems: The exploding power of HMI software – Once a hardware-driven technology, HMI systems now depend on the power of software to control operations and applications. Led by advancements in programming languages and innovations in interfaces and mobility, these workhorses of manufacturing are playing expanded roles throughout the enterprise—and with the influence of a new-age workforce are looking to add greater functionality in the future.

Pages: Most popular Control Engineering pages in May 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.