Why Team Communications Fail

Posted by Bruce Brandt on March 27, 2015 @ 10:24 am

Communications issues between team members or customers delay projects and increase frustration levels. See tips on how to address popular miscommunications and avoid them in the future.shutterstock_10070713

Unless you are a one person team, you will always have problems with team communications during projects. Even if you are a one person team, you will always have problems with customer communications during projects. Those are rather absolute statements, but after 45 years of projects, I can’t remember a project where there were absolutely no communications issues. In analyzing those issues some patterns emerge that point to underlying causes of miscommunication. “Everybody does it... Continue Reading

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Automation resource taxation

Posted by Art Howell on March 18, 2015 @ 9:48 am

Today’s engineers are faced with having to keep up on new technologies as well as maintaining older systems, and oftentimes integrating the two. See three examples on automation resource taxation.

Is it my imagination, or are today’s automation resources being heavily taxed? Today’s engineers are faced with an onslaught of technology that seems to be growing exponentially. On top of keeping up with all the new technologies, engineers are faced with having to maintain older technologies as well. There are so many varieties of products on the market that the integration of all these different technologies is becoming increasingly taxing, as well. For instance, there are many ways for these devices to communicate information, different network types, and protocols. A basic knowledge of communication networks and protocols is a must. I was recently called to a plant site w... Continue Reading

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Advanced regulatory versus model-predictive control

Posted by Jim Ford on March 17, 2015 @ 8:46 am

Some currently practicing control engineers may be regarding the features and capabilities of advanced regulatory control (ARC) as inferior to model-predictive control (MPC)—but are they really?

A contributor to a recent LinkedIn APC blog made the following statement about the difference between advanced regulatory control (ARC) and model-predictive control (MPC): “In a general and very simple way, an advanced regulatory controller acts based on an error, while a predictive controller uses a model in order to predict what is going to happen and acts in consequence to avoid it.” As a long-time proponent of ARC for the solution of many industrial control problems, I would like to correct a common misconception held by probably 99% of current practicing control engineers regarding the features and capabilities of ARC. During the 1970s, and with the advent of ... Continue Reading

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Control System Engineering: Are PE stamped designs a requirement?

Posted by David Paul on March 4, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

Professional engineering licensure for control system designers, engineers, and integrators is always a topic that can bring forth heated arguments both for and against licensure. The purpose of this article is to put forth the facts and let the readers determine if professional engineer (PE) designed control systems are a requirement for their systems and facilities.

Professional engineering licensure for control system designers, engineers, and integrators is always a topic that can bring forth heated arguments both for and against licensure. The purpose of this article is to put forth the facts and let the readers determine if professional engineer (PE) designed control systems are a requirement for their systems and facilities. First some background, the practice of engineering is a regulated profession, just as doctors, attorneys, and many other professionals are. The ... Continue Reading

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Common misconceptions: Safety instrumented system basics

Posted by Shane Hudson on February 25, 2015 @ 10:16 am

ISA84 is not a "cook book" or "prescriptive standard," but rather a "performance standard" for a general approach plant owners can use for each phase of a safety instrumented system over its lifecycle.

Plant personnel commonly ask the following questions of consulting engineers who:
“Does our proposed SIS design comply with ISA84?” “Does our proposed SIS design meet the required SIL?”

Unfortunately, consulting engineers typically are not in a position to answer these questions. Therefore, here is a brief review of terminology and concepts that can provide the explanation needed:

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