MAY-JUN 2019

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T he rate of change for new technology in the world of control system engineering is staggering and can be over- whelming if you do not step back to see the forest for the trees. The role of a control system engineer (CSE) is changing with this technology and the cost of its implementation. Hard- ware and software vendors continue to develop products that are more cost effective—from both product cost and implemen- tation cost perspectives. Do not forget that a significant cost of a product is the time required by a CSE to implement it. And let's face it, we are well paid, particularly in North America and Europe. As cool as you might think the latest tool from your software vendor is, part of the reason it exists is to reduce your cost. Overall hours required for the development phases of automation projects (program- mable logic controller programming, human-machine interface [HMI] programming, device configuration) have decreased drasti- cally over the past 15 years. Technology also brings opportunities for offshore system de- velopment, which further decreases the time CSEs are spending with program development. At the same time, new tools provide opportunities for CSEs to deliver even more value. Data histori- ans; Industrial Internet of Things; data analytics; advanced pro- cess control; proportional, integral, derivative (PID) autotuning; and PID loop performance monitoring are all available to help CSEs save energy, increase plant uptime, reduce material costs, etc. But these tools have no value un- til they are put to work by someone who understands the processes be- ing controlled. This places a stronger emphasis on un- derstanding pro- cess control basics. It requires getting away from the keyboard and out onto the plant floor. Control system integrators also have new oppor- tunities for project management, design, and documentation. End users have fewer resources available for projects, and the people who are assigned have less and less time. But a suc- cessful project still requires someone to understand the process requirements in detail and to communicate effectively to the The changing role of the control system engineer – Advanced technology and control system basics By Michael McEnery These tools have no value until they are put to work by someone who understands the processes being con- trolled. This places a stron- ger emphasis on understand- ing process control basics. It requires getting away from the keyboard and out onto the plant floor. Tips and Strategies for Integrators | channel chat INTECH MAY/JUNE 2019 45 project team regarding design. Again, this goes back to the CSE having a strong understanding of process design and pro- cess control. So, the next time you start to stress about a new version of an HMI or a just-released series of I/O modules, take a step back and make sure you are also acquiring knowledge about how the equipment you are controlling actually operates. And how it can operate better. ■ ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michael McEnery ( is the president of McEnery Automation, a CSIA certified system in- tegrator. Founded in 1994, the Control System Integrators As- sociation (CSIA) is a not-for-profit professional association of more than 500-member companies in 40 countries advancing the industry of control system integration ( NEW! From ISA Publishing Order your copy today at Situation awareness + situation assessment + successfully managing abnormal situations = Situation Management Operators must be able to monitor operations, understand the data, and plan and actualize neces- sary changes. This book discusses the technology and tools, as well as effective methodologies for safer and more productive control room operations through situation management.

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