Top Control Engineering articles, December 2011

The most-visited articles at during December 2011 included articles on best products, award-winning automation system integrators, control panel safety, video about returning the human to automated processes, programming software, cloud computing for automation, iPhone as an HMI, 100-ft high dancing robotic birds, and lessons learned in operator training simulation.


Industrial control panels designed with finger-safe components, fused main disconnects, and ac power segregated from low-voltage dc power can decrease risk.What do those interested in the control engineering profession consider important reading on the Control Engineering website? What haven’t you read yet that you should? The most-visited articles at during December 2011 included articles on best products, award-winning automation system integrators, control panel safety, video about returning the human to automated processes, programming software, cloud computing for automation, iPhone as an HMI, 100-ft high dancing robotic birds, and lessons learned in operator training simulation.

2012 Engineers' Choice finalists - Engineers' Choice Award finalists for the 2012 awards follow by category. Subscribers voted on the best products in automation, control, and instrumentation, based on technological advancement, service to the industry, and market impact. Winners and honorable mentions will be featured in the February 2012 issue.

2012 System Integrator of the Year Award Winners

Control Engineering proudly presents its 2012 System Integrators of the Year.

Codes and regulations: Electrical Controls’ Dirty Little Secret: We Don’t Follow NFPA Rules - Of course safety is important, but most don’t follow NFPA 70e safety rules for working on an energized electrical panel. Risky? Yes. Unsafe? No, according to this system integrator. Perhaps industrial control panels need their own arc flash standard.

Video: Returning the human to automated processes - Automation technology is great, as far as it goes, but it can’t substitute for the decision-making capability of enlightened and engaged human beings. Sudipta Bhattacharya of Invensys Operations Management reflects on how automation has to change to empower people. 

Beckhoff Automation TwinCAT 3 PC-based programming software integrates numerical control (NC), C++, safety, multiple PLCs, and MathWorks Simulink model-based software elements. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationProgramming software turns IPCs into all-in-one HMIs, PLCs, NCs, PACs Industrial programming software: IEC 61131-3 programming, plus C++, C#, and object-oriented extensions and third-party software modules can operate on industrial PCs (IPCs), serving as multipurpose programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and/or numerical control (NC) targets. This extends the IPC well beyond a human-machine interface.

The cloud helps foster innovation and lowers entry barriers for manufacturing innovation. Courtesy: National InstrumentsPower of the Cloud – Cloud computing is everywhere, including manufacturing! This latest computing craze may seem like just another buzzword, but “the cloud” and its advanced computing technologies are here to stay, holding a stockpile of benefits, few downsides, and the promise to give industry untold opportunities to do more and better business more profitably.

System Integrator Hall of Fame - Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners. The winners, in three categories, are then inducted into our System Integrator Hall of Fame—links to articles are included.

An iPhone as Your Next HMI? Consumer-grade smartphones and tablet computers are fast becoming commonplace extensions of industrial networks, permitting process monitoring and, even (gasp!) process control.

The 10-min. nighttime show at the Resorts World Sentosa features a series of breathtaking high-speed motions, with many close and overlapping movements, mimicking the birds’ mating ritual.System Integration Case Study: 5,000 hp Robotic Birds - Giant dancing birds at a Singapore resort help define the limits of synchronized, large-scale motion control. Mega-scale robotic animatronics system guides two large steel crane structures, each weighing 80 tons and standing 100 ft tall. Four giant hydraulic power units, totaling nearly 5,000 hp, drive an elaborate 10-min. dance.

Lessons learned, success in simulation - A firsthand review of a successful operator training simulator program, with some thoughts for avoiding bumps if you try the same approach.

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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.

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Coming soon: Top 20 articles of 2011.

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

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