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.

10/01/2008


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. The new content area debuting in this issue is called “Ideas in Automation” (on page 74). The point of this section is to call attention to the application of industrial automation and controls in industries outside of manufacturing. Good ideas often arise from the most unlikely areas.

We all know how easy it is to get trapped in a knowledge comfort zone and how easy it then becomes to dismiss certain ideas as ill-fitted to our tasks. But we also all know that new, out-of-the-box ideas are exactly what we need to spark new ways of thinking and generate real advances for ourselves and our companies.

Kicking off the “Ideas in Automation” section is a look behind the scenes at the automation and computing that bring Disney’s newest attraction, “Toy Story Midway Mania,” to life. Running over an Ethernet backbone (the first time Disney has done this for an entire ride), this new ride blends interactive guest participation into a moving attraction with 3D graphics and on-vehicle scoring. The marriage of PLCs, motors and drives, wireless and wired communication, and high-end computing in this ride is a true testament to what’s possible in a high-volume environment with today’s automation technologies.

Disney rarely allows the media to get a close look at the inner workings of its attractions, making this article and its associated pictures and videos all the more unique and insightful. Special thanks goes to Disney alliance partner Siemens for helping us get the behind-the-scenes tour.

Upcoming “Ideas in Automation” articles will look at OPC use in Broadway stage show automation, new power transmission designs used in motors for major airport baggage handling systems, HMIs and home automation technologies, and energy savings lessons from farming applications.

In the meantime, stay tuned for two other new sections set to debut next month. Rest assured that the introduction of these new sections will not replace the tried-and-true, core engineering articles for which Control Engineering is so well known. All that coverage will remain. These new sections are pure value add for our valued audience.

david.greenfield@reedbusiness.com





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