A copious mandate is plant engineering

How is plant engineering changing and how does that influence the editorial direction of Plant Engineering magazine?

By Kevin Parker September 15, 2019

The role of the plant engineer is to manage information and lead people, says the third edition of the Plant Engineering Standard Handbook, published by McGraw Hill. We are all knowledge workers now.

Entering the third decade of the 21st century, how is plant engineering changing and how does that influence the editorial direction of Plant Engineering magazine?

Being a plant engineer or participating in plant engineering today as a role has a scale and scope that some other engineering roles lack. All engineering roles, however, are increasingly driven by near-constant interaction with information and operations technologies that didn’t exist 30 years ago.

The consequences of IT-based plant connectivity is more sensors, more data aggregation and more analytics. It turns out adoption of Deming’s statistical process control methods that became so popular in the 1990s was only a precursor for widespread use of statistical-based analytics applications in real-time, transactional and decision-support systems.

Why we’re here

The Plant Engineering magazine brand’s role is to ensure you’re familiar with emergent technologies, best practices and vocabularies. Industrial trade magazines are a phenomena of the post-World War II era. Control Engineering, sister publication to Plant Engineering, this year celebrates its 65th anniversary.

No longer is this just a matter of a monthly magazine. Electronic newsletters, podcasts, eBooks, and education modules all play a role. Webinars, especially, are become an increasingly important platform, as they now incorporate video and software demos. Stop by the Plant Engineering website to get a peek at the increasing variety of technology briefings available in the next several months.

But don’t downplay the print magazine’s continuing value. Under its new editorial regime, starting now and extending into year 2020, the magazine will publish more detailed editorial features covering a wider range of technologies and best practices.

The vast scope and scale of the oil & gas industries has led to the introduction several years ago or Oil & Gas Engineering, which many subscribers receive along with Plant Engineering, as well as IIoT for Engineers, covering emerging developments covering cloud and edge technologies.

Beyond maintenance

To this editor, Plant Engineering’s core is reliability-centered maintenance (RCM): the application of time-based, scheduled preventive maintenance procedures and of predictive maintenance technologies applied to applications that allow equipment life optimization.

Technologies associated with predictive maintenance include vibration analysis, motor circuit analysis, infrared imaging, ultrasound, oil analyses, and ferrography.

Beyond that, we’re looking at the entire range of the means of production, from electrical systems to mechanical equipment. It’s not possible here to list the entire range of facilities, machines and functions involved.

In recent years, safety, lubricants and lighting have been among the more important magazine topics. That will continue. What also can be said is that we intend to cover the relevant story lines associated with the full range of technologies outlined in the Standard Plant Engineering Handbook, from boilers to rotating equipment.

Joining me on the editorial staff of Plant Engineering is Jack Smith, who acted as managing editor of Plant Engineering in past years and has agreed to do so again. We thank him for it.

Incidentally, Leo Spector, a former editor of the publication, also contributed to and was on the board of advisers to the Plant Engineering Standard Handbook’s first edition in 1983.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media