Really a great article, John. So do we know how it's being received in a quantitative way? What perceentage of controls engineers are willing to (as they used to say), cross over to the dark side? What percentage are just saying, no, I won't ever do this?
Increasing integration in A&C does seem to be the wave of the future, and that includes robotics, as I predict in my Top 5 Robotics Trends of 2011: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=236475&. Integrating multiple control functions in hardware, as well as into a single IDE, will enable all this. And making it scalable can only be done by integrating PC-based hardware.
This is a great intro and I found the discussion of safety of particular value. The implementation of safety standards throughout the factor, and in products via traceable design-for-safety processes, is going to be a huge issue in 2012 and beyond. As well, the HMI stuff in this article was extremely valuable in the context of fielding a complete automation solution.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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