David Greenfield, Editorial Director


DCS, SCADA, Controllers March 1, 2010

Engineering employment outlook

The longstanding lament among engineers for many years, especially in the U.S., has been that jobs for engineers are disappearing at an alarming rate. I have personally heard many engineers say that they would do whatever they could to discourage their children from following in their engineering footsteps.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
PLCs, PACs February 1, 2010

From the core to the cutting edge

As difficult as 2009 was economically on a global basis, it’s been fascinating to watch how businesses and professionals are adapting to the structural changes that are reshaping the economic world in which we all live. Nowhere has this been more evolutionary than in engineering. I prefer the term “evolutionary” over “revolutionary” because the changes that have oc...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Mechatronics and Motion Control January 1, 2010

What 2009 can tell us about 2010

Looking back at the top 20 articles accessed at www.controleng.com during 2009 illuminated some clear areas of interest among our engineering audience. (See the full rundown of top 20 articles at http://tinyurl.com/ylbx9zu.) Four clear categories of article types can be seen across the top 20 articles: Educational/tutorial, cutting edge applications, green/sustainable engineering, and contests/...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Safety December 1, 2009

Researching for insight

A few months ago, Control Engineering was contacted by Morgan Stanley about partnering on an automation industry research project. Morgan Stanley was in the process of determining whether or not to revive its investment advisory service on this sector and needed data to help determine the current and future viability of automation industry investment.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
October 1, 2009

User-generated content

Much has been made over the past few years about the value of and potential for user-generated content—content created by visitors to a Web site. Much of the benefit derived so far from this type of content has been in user reviews. Numerous research projects have shown that Internet users place more credence in user reviews than in those from other so...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Mechatronics and Motion Control September 1, 2009

What kind of engineer uses Facebook?

Demographic data shows engineers using social media to be highly experienced decision makers working across a variety of industries.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Energy Efficiency July 1, 2009

Social experiment update

Last February I announced in this column the launch of Control Engineering’s first social media foray—the “Automation & Control” group on Facebook (http://budurl.com/2nfe). As we began this experiment, there were already several other such automation-related groups on Facebook hosting anywhere from several dozen to a few hundred members.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators June 1, 2009

What good are economists anyway?

Yes, I borrowed that headline from BusinessWeek. But I did so with a reason. The BusinessWeek article I’m referring to focused on how wrong so many economists were recently by saying either a recession wouldn’t happen or, if it did, it would be short and mild. With that in mind, I thought I would point out one economist who called it right—Alan Beaulieu of the Institute for Tr...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Asset Management May 1, 2009

Energy efficiency ready for the dustbin?

Have the industry efforts so recently begun toward achieving greater energy efficiencies already become passé? Is it already oh-so-five-minutes-ago? Listening to one industry analyst group in particular, one might think that to be the case. According to Frost & Sullivan, “Energy Efficiency was the buzzword of 2008.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Energy Efficiency April 1, 2009

Sustainability evident in product innovation

Innovation is often more about developing a new use for an existing technology than it is about creating a new technology or product from scratch. Recently, I've come across two new innovations—both of which grew out of initiatives to help companies save energy and money—that really grabbed my interest.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Motors and Drives March 1, 2009

Efficiency improvements a recession breaker?

Though it came a bit later to the automation industries than to much of the rest of the economy, the recession has definitely settled in and doesn’t appear to be on its way to lifting any time soon. Everyone in the industry knew this inevitable slowdown would come, but what surprised many was the swiftness with which it arrived.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators February 1, 2009

Control Engineering launches Facebook “Automation & Control” group

Online social media has quickly become an important tool for many people as a means of staying in touch with their professional community. As such, I’d like to extend a personal invitation for you to join and take part in Control Engineering’s “Automation & Control” group on Facebook.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
PID, APC February 1, 2009

Are you being social?

For someone who has spent a great deal of time working with the Internet (I was setting up Web directories and posting articles on Websites as early as 1995), I feel like I have come incredibly late to the whole “social media” thing. Sure, I’ve visited YouTube and have LinkedIn and Classmates.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Motors and Drives January 1, 2009

Practical energy efficiency

It’s ante up time. By clearly stating that we had an education agenda in mind when initiating regular coverage of sustainable engineering in November, Control Engineering made a commitment to provide readers with critical how-to information on the topic of sustainability—just as we’ve done for more than five decades for control and automation technologies...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Diagnostics, Asset Management December 1, 2008

Economics and engineering careers

There has been grim news on the manufacturing front: Total orders in September declined 2.5% after a 4.3% drop in August, with non-durables falling 5.5% (the biggest drop in two years); and though factory inventories decreased 0.7% (the biggest decline in five years), the drop in demand caused the inventory-to-sales ratio to rise to 1.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Energy Efficiency November 1, 2008

Engineered for sustainability

The topic of sustainability is quickly becoming a reality for manufacturers of all types. A majority of you are implementing sustainability initiatives for reasons related to your own operations as well as because of partner and customer requests and requirements, according to a Control Engineering subscriber study conducted this summer.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Networking and Security October 1, 2008

Ideas in Automation

As you can see, Control Engineering has undergone a bit of a redesign with this issue. Our reasons for doing this are three-fold: give the content a brighter, cleaner appearance, thereby making it easier to navigate through the issue; provide improved ways to spotlight the vast amount of online content we create daily; and to highlight new areas of coverage.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Energy Efficiency September 1, 2008

Offshore all manufacturing?

Sounds ridiculous, right? And it is. But a few readers thought my July column (“Rise of the Rest”) called for exactly that. Obviously, as editorial director for a magazine focused on the manufacturing industries, I am nothing if not an outright proponent of manufacturing in the United States.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
IIoT, Industrie 4.0 August 1, 2008

The persistence of U.S. engineering

With the rest of the world rising in economic stature and assuming many of the commodity manufacturing roles formerly performed in the U.S., some are nervous that manufacturing in America will disappear. Though the role of the U.S. manufacturing industries will continue to change, it will still play a vitally important role in the global production economy because of our strengths in engineering.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Diagnostics, Asset Management July 1, 2008

Rise of the rest

In June, I touched on the issue of China’s ascendancy into the global economy and how, though it is both a credible partner and competitor, it remains a long way from being America’s equal economically. But China is not the only country growing in economic stature and performing much of the manufacturing formerly performed in the U.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators June 1, 2008

China catches up?

With the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing approaching and the round-the-clock construction of the modern China regularly trumpeted on news programs, it’s difficult to not believe that China will assume economic predominance in the near term. But the difficulties China faces in making the leap from a low-cost offshore manufacturing center to a global economic entity are building.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Wireless May 1, 2008

You can go home again

I’m going to take issue with Thomas Wolfe and the title of his novel “You Can’t Go Home Again,” because this column is evidence that you can, in fact, go home again. For those of you who may not remember, I was the editorial director of Control Engineering from 2003 to 2005. While much has remained the same since I was last at the editorial helm of Control Engineering, ...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Safety March 1, 2006

Global perspective

Industry's globalization is an undeniable fact of 21st century business. Following this trend over several years, Control Engineering has extended its brand abroad to follow these developing global trends and to help the world's engineers better understand their roles in the ever-changing manufacturing industries.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Workforce Development February 1, 2006

Engineering revisited

Not long after I came onboard as editorial director of Control Engineering, I wrote a column titled "Change engineers," which dealt with the increasing influence of corporate directives and information technologies on the engineering profession in the manufacturing industries. This has been a theme I've revisited several times since as more evidence to support the shift taking place in enginee...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Project Management January 1, 2006

Inflection point

The current economic upswing is tangibly different for manufacturers, with some of the most dramatic effects not only being felt by low-skilled production personnel, but also by highly trained engineers. Though prospects are dim for low-skilled workers, engineers should realize the potential future for engineering is decidedly rosier, if you pay heed to marketplace signals.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Diagnostics, Asset Management December 1, 2005

Research value

Control Engineering has a long history of researching the industrial automation market. What began years ago with our monthly Product Focus feature (now known as Product Research to underscore the articles' research component) has blossomed into regular surveys of our readers on nearly every topic relevant to the industries we cover.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Networking and Security November 1, 2005

Security update

Are the warnings working? Much has been written in the past few years about the state of industrial security and what manufacturers can and should be doing to protect business and control systems. With so much focus on prevention and remediation steps, here's a good news/bad news update on the state of industrial security.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Info Management October 1, 2005

Engineers and the law

It's always been editorial policy at Control Engineering to keep a close eye on topics that have the potential to impact our readership and adjust content appropriately to keep up with relevant trends. Based on a number of key issues ranging from regulations to intellectual property, we are launching a new, quarterly column in this issue—Legalities.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Safety September 1, 2005

Bring a tax credit to the table

As an engineer, you're always on the lookout for ways to reduce costs associated with your company's products and processes. But what if you could help deliver a significant tax credit that might positively impact your company's bottom line as much as a new source of revenue, just for doing what you already do? Virtually any manufacturer has the potential to qualify for federal research and dev...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Diagnostics, Asset Management August 1, 2005

Upturn insight

General media outlets have been buzzing with news that manufacturing is back as a major economic driver in the U.S. Recent reports on this "trend" could be found in the Wall Street Journal citing U.S. Census Bureau data about increases in domestic manufacturing capacity, backed by numbers from the Institute of Supply Management stating that June marked the 25th straight month of expansion in th...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators July 1, 2005

Straight from the source

If you're not yet familiar with the term "blog," which is short for Web log, here's a simple, yet direct definition from Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page. Blogs are all the rage on the Web these days. Business Week recently ran a cover story suggesting that businesses of all types should use blogs a...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Info Management June 1, 2005

Positioning for the shift

For some time now, Control Engineering has devoted considerable ink to the convergence of engineering and IT in manufacturing. Now it appears that vendors are doing more than simply offering products, such as intelligent devices, remote monitoring, and manufacturing execution systems (MES), to address this merger of technologies and departments.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
IIoT, Industrie 4.0 April 1, 2005

Manufacturing by the numbers

To highlight the launch of Control Engineering's newest editorial department, "By the Numbers" (page 32), I decided to devote this month's column to a little number crunching. What began as a focused search to determine U.S. manufacturing productivity numbers quickly became a study of global manufacturing economics.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
PID, APC March 1, 2005

Competition breeds control

Manufacturing activity remains strong well into the first quarter of 2005. Institute for Supply Management's PMI (purchasing manager's index) was at 56.4% for January, indicating that the U.S. manufacturing sector is still growing—for the 20th consecutive month. Growth in manufacturing, however, is a term that now applies worldwide.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Cybersecurity February 1, 2005

Security: a national priority

By saying, in February 2003, that the protection of control systems had become "a national priority," President Bush set off a flurry of security activities in the industrial sector. We remain, however, a long way from reaching the goal of secure industrial infrastructures. So that an appropriate layer of security can be added, most of the past few years' security efforts have been spent simply...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators January 1, 2005

Engineers and Sarbanes-Oxley

Control engineers need to be more aware of and involved in automation system integration with higher-level business systems. The long-promised intersection of these two areas of technology will actually begin taking place at companies of all sizes over the next five to 10 years and it will have a lasting effect on engineers, not just because it will impact systems they use and the level of info...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Instrumentation and Sensors December 1, 2004

What a year!

Assessing all I've seen and heard over the past year leads me to one conclusion—2004 is the year we've all been waiting for, economically, since the manufacturing industry began to decline in 2001. Looking at the numbers broadly, U.S. manufacturers' after-tax profits reached $82.4 billion in second-quarter 2004 (the most recent quarter for which data is available)—a level higher tha...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Workforce Development November 1, 2004

Beginner-colored glasses

Recently, I've had the opportunity to speak with a number of people in the industry about where things look to be headed considering that, at press time, we had just entered the sixteenth consecutive month of growth in the manufacturing sector and some rumblings were beginning to be heard widely about dissatisfaction with the outsourcing process.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Mechatronics and Motion Control October 1, 2004

Fieldbus jump predicted

When it comes to industrial communication, one mostly hears about the various fieldbus flavors produced by automation vendors. But market reality is quite different. According to Edgar Kuester, chairman of Profibus International, the majority of the installed base uses HART (highway addressable remote transmitter) or 4-20 mA signal communications.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Mechatronics and Motion Control September 1, 2004

Why we’re here

This issue marks our Golden Anniversary—the first issue appeared in September 1954—and honestly, we couldn't be more proud. Not just because we've endured this long as a publication, but because we continue to be the preferred magazine for manufacturing engineers and operators. The high opinion our target subscribers have of Control Engineering tells us that we're meeting and exceed...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Instrumentation and Sensors August 1, 2004

Pin-up controls

As we gear up for our 50th anniversary celebration next month, we decided to start the party a little early with a special gift to subscribers—a super-sized poster depicting key advances in control, automation, and instrumentation over the last 50 years. That's right; controls and automation have now achieved pin-up status.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators July 1, 2004

Too many jobs?

"There are plenty of manufacturing jobs to be had in the U.S. The problem is that Americans don't want these jobs because manufacturing jobs have no social status," said Dick Morley (known to many as the "father of the PLC") during the most recent CSIA (Control and Information System Integrators Association) meeting in May.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Machine Safety June 1, 2004

On top of trends

To say that current industry trends affect the trajectory of your business or career is a "sky is blue" statement—an obvious or apparent claim. Though many trends are obvious once well under way, catching them on the upswing can increase your advantage in numerous ways, instead of forcing you to deal with after-the-fact impacts.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Manufacturing IT, MES May 1, 2004

Building a soapbox

Since I came to Control Engineering more than a year ago, numerous changes to content and presentation have been made. Starting in May 2003, we introduced a new order to editorial content to make navigating the magazine easier. In June, we re-designed our look for a cleaner, up-to-date, easier-to-read publication.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Workforce Development April 1, 2004

Why the integration push?

Since my arrival at Control Engineering, I've dedicated considerable column space to advocating the notion that engineers should notice all the talk surrounding the integration of plant-floor controls and automation to enterprise-level systems. For many engineers, this issue was put aside in the late 1990s after numerous failed attempts at such linkage.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Asset Management March 1, 2004

Convergence of purpose

For the past several years now, I have attended annual ARC Advisory Group meetings in Boston and Orlando. At the Orlando show in January an interesting convergence occurred, a parallel that some people may have missed. Those who have been to these conferences in the past know that the Boston event has been more manufacturing-enterprise-focused and the Orlando show more plant-floor-oriented.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Energy, Power February 1, 2004

The flexible core

As the manufacturing sector continues to reflect the overall economy by showing regular, positive gains, some wage a battle of words over how the dark forces of unbridled capitalism are slowly but surely killing U.S. manufacturing. To them I say: baloney. Capitalism brought U.S. manufacturing to its apex in the 20th century and keeps it as one of the strongest factors of our country's power ...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
HMI, OI January 1, 2004


2004 is shaping up to be a special year for Control Engineering in many ways. For starters, it is our 50th anniversary and we will be celebrating it throughout the year. 2004 is also the first full year of publication under our new design and guidance, and we will be debuting new columns and sections.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
IIoT, Industrie 4.0 December 1, 2003

A taxing consideration

Looking at U.S. manufacturing industries since 1975—with imports exceeding exports in many areas and a continuing account deficit—it's clear that the past few years' downturn is more than just a cyclical happenstance. A definite economic shift is underway. It can be argued that this shift parallels one that occurred in the mid-19th century, as the economy shifted from an agrarian ...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
System Integrators November 1, 2003

Preparation for integration

Coursing through the ISA Show in Houston, I got the distinct impression that things are picking up in the controls and automation universe. There was definitely a certain— though I hate to use this word I will—"buzz" that was palpable in both attendees and vendors. I believe much of the "buzz" centered on a general feeling that the manufacturing part of the economy may finally be tu...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Manufacturing IT, MES October 1, 2003

Better than payback

In the August 2003 issue, I discussed why it was so important for engineers to start "looking at things like an accountant." My point was that engineers today can no longer satisfy management by ensuring that their decisions are keeping operations running. Today, engineers have to do that and "show the money" to upper management to gain support for their projects.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Manufacturing IT, MES September 1, 2003


Though I received a good deal of feedback from a variety of sources to my "Change Engineers" column in the July issue, it was Mark J. Nelson, an engineering product manager at Hilliard Corp. in New York who brought home the impact of the control engineer's shifting job requirements in an email that drew from his experiences.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
Process Instrumentation and Sensors August 1, 2003

Monetize controls

For the past few months now I've been using my column to discuss the use of real-time information for improved processes, better decision-making, and increased company value. I've also made clear the paramount importance of control engineers to the real time initiative. Now that I've laid this groundwork, I plan to examine the role control engineers play in advancing the competitive value of th...

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director
PID, APC July 1, 2003

Change Engineers

The world of the control engineer has remained remarkably constant for much of this century. Certainly there have been many new innovations, tools, and technologies that have spurred change in the profession over the years, but the control engineers of today often bear a great resemblance to those of the 1950s.

By David Greenfield, Editorial Director