Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering


Project Management December 15, 2005

Value Means More Than Price

When it comes to buying houses, diamonds, computers, and bicycles, it's generally true that, "you get what you pay for." It's much more difficult to place an objective value on a service. The best mechanic in town may be the expensive factory-trained technician at the local dealership or the kid down the block who fixes cars just for fun.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Info Management May 1, 2004

System integrators defined

Automation system integrators are the engineering firms that manufacturers turn to for help connecting the disparate components of their automated factories. System integrators provide the time, talents, and technology required to turn a plan into a functioning automation system. But exactly what engineering services constitute "system integration" and which engineering service providers qualif...

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Project Management December 15, 2003

Integrators Take Projects from Concept to Completion

Automation system integrators are experts at planning, designing, and implementing industrial automation and control systems. They're particularly adept at connecting disparate automation components to equipment in a client's factory. Exactly how they accomplish their mission varies from integrator to integrator and from application to application.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Control Systems July 1, 2003

PID loop tuning fundamentals

A control loop is a feedback mechanism that attempts to correct discrepancies between a measured process variable and the desired setpoint. The controller applies the necessary corrective actions via an actuator that can drive the process variable up or down. A proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller tracks the error between the process variable and the setpoint, the integral of ...

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Motors and Drives May 1, 1999

Assessing Control Loop Performance

The basic measure of a control loop's performance is the error between the process variable and its setpoint. Zero error indicates the controller's corrective efforts have been successful in forcing the process variable to match the setpoint.However, size of the error at any given instant is not necessarily a good indication of how well the controller is performing.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Mechatronics and Motion Control March 1, 1999

Integrators Evolve to Meet Customer Needs

Although automation and control systems continue to grow in scope and complexity, end users seem inclined to devote fewer in-house resources to developing and maintaining them. Many manufacturers have eliminated their staff engineering positions entirely, preferring to hire the help they need when they need it.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Control Systems January 1, 1999

Optimization Means Higher Profits

One way or another, every manufacturer must solve a basic optimization problem—how to produce the most valuable product at the least possible cost. Particularly in high volume, low margin industries like petrochemicals and consumer products, profits depend on squeezing every bit of finished product out of the available raw materials and saving every dime on labor and material costs.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Motors and Drives December 15, 1998

Automation Products Simplify Integration

Industrial automation vendors are developing products system integrators have been seeking for clients. Integrated architectures, common look and feel, and greater connectivity are features industrial automation system integrators want for clients, according to a survey of attendees at the Control System Integrator Conference this past spring.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Process Instrumentation and Sensors September 1, 1998

Better Boiling Makes Better Brew

Model-based controllers have been used for applications as diverse as steering supertankers through narrow channels and maintaining comfort levels in commercial office space. It should come as no surprise, to find a model-based controller in the Molson Breweries of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
Control Systems April 1, 1998

Manage the Whole Process with Multivariable Control

Single-variable controllers such as PID loops are by far the most popular controllers for industrial applications. A single-variable controller measures the one and only variable of interest, decides if its value is acceptable, applies a corrective effort if necessary, then repeats. This routine works very well for process control problems with just one variable or with multiple variables...

By Vance J. VanDoren, Control Engineering
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