Top Control Engineering articles, August 2011

Most-visited articles at during August 2011 included process and machine safety, wind power automation, plant performance, process control terms, rare-earth magnets, salary survey, PC vs PLC, making operators more effective, and award-winning products, among other articles.


Most-visited articles at during August 2011 included process and machine safety questions and answers, wind power automation, plant performance reporting, process control terms, rare-earth magnets for motors, EE salary survey, PC vs PLC considerations, making operators more effective, and award-winning products, among other articles. Descriptions and links to those most-visited articles follow.

Courtesy: CFSEAugust 2011 most popular Control Engineering online articles

When should you bypass your safety system? - How can it be considered "good engineering practice" to bypass your safety instrumented system (SIS) during critical times with your process? See diagrams. 

2011 Engineers’ Choice Awards - Spotlight on Innovation - Cover story: Best automation, control, and instrumentation products in 30 categories. (Application deadline for 2012 is Oct. 14.)  

Siemens 3 MW direct-drive turbine has nacelle dimensions of 6.8 m length x 4.2 m diameter (22.3 ft L x 13.8 ft dia.), enabling transport by standard vehicles. The outer- rotor generator design helps reduce nacelle weight. Courtesy: SiemensDirect-drive Wind Turbines Flex Muscles – A different drive train design that eliminates the gearbox between a turbine’s rotor and generator is attracting wind turbine manufacturers in the quest for higher power output, increased offshore reliability, and potential cost savings over the system’s lifetime. See photos, diagram, links.  

Video: Making your plant performance reporting more interactive - What will tomorrow’s “morning meeting” look like? ABB gives a preview of what’s going on in the lab and what your future HMI may look like.

Back to Basics: Relearning terms, concepts for process control - Process control terms vary according to engineering discipline and industry. A common vocabulary and better understanding of process control fundamentals make teams and communications more efficient and effective.  

The rotor of Siemens’ 6-MW DD wind turbine is shown being fitted to the nacelle at the company’s test site in Denmark. Courtesy: SiemensNo shortage of direct-drive wind turbine developments - A different drive train design that eliminates the gearbox between a turbine’s rotor and generator is attracting wind turbine manufacturers in the quest for higher power output, increased offshore reliability, and potential cost savings over the system’s lifetime. See photos, diagram, links.

Rare-earth magnet supply and cost issues - Dramatic price increases have occurred recently for rare-earth magnet materials, used in permanent magnet (PM) motors and electric generators. Supply shortages may also be in store for users of permanent magnets derived from those materials. The big picture is probably not as bleak as some have suggested—due to innovative design changes, alternative magnet materials, streamlining the lengthy processing of rare-earth magnets, and developing new sources. However, this challenge has no short-term solutions.

2011 EE Salary Survey - Career Update: Electrical Engineer Career Assessment - Take our online career assessment and salary survey for electrical engineers. Link to other career-help resources.

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.

Machine Safety Blog: I don’t have to upgrade my machine safety to the latest technology – Have you heard: “I don’t have to upgrade my machine safety to the latest technology.” Or... “My shop is safe because we haven’t had an accident for umpteen years." Here are 5 questions to ask about machine safety.

ABB's Extended Operator Workplace. The right combination of equipment and ergonomics creates an environment that lowers stress levels and allows operators to improve situational awareness. Courtesy: ABBDeveloping People: Making Operators More Effective - Tools and methods for creating an industrial operator workplace ready for the needs of today and tomorrow. Improved situational awareness and better handling of abnormal conditions helps operators make better decisions and improve safety and process uptime. 

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Integrator Guide - Search the online Automation Integrator Guide by selecting from the categories below. Selecting multiple criteria will narrow your search results. Integrators wishing to apply for their own listing can do so.

(Editor’s note: Happy Birthday – Control Engineering’s website has been online for 15 years as of August 2011.)

- Compiled by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

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