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.
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.
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?
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