Your Top 10 Automation World Stories of 2013

Jan. 4, 2014
From the fantastical to the everyday, these are the topics that interested you most in the past year.

As we explore the topics that piqued your interest most in 2013, we find an interesting mix of the practical and the futuristic among’s Top 10. Though advanced technologies like Google Glass and the Internet of Things have certainly been popular, so have the articles that help you make your everyday decisions about the products you’ll use.

Topping the list of most popular articles in 2013, for example, is a practical guide to choosing between pneumatic and electric actuators. Another making the list will help you know when a PLC or RTU is right for your application.

Read on to see more about the topics that mattered most to Automation World readers last year, and catch up on those that you might have missed!

1. How to Decide Between Pneumatic and Electric Actuators
The debate surrounding the pros and cons of electric and pneumatic actuators has been raging for years and still no easy answer exists. With the help of Bimba Manufacturing, this article focuses on the core differentiators to help narrow your decision.

2. Wi-Fi and the Future of Wireless Sensor Networks
While developing a feature article on wireless sensor networking trends, Editor in Chief David Greenfield noticed that Wi-Fi rarely got mentioned. Of course, office-grade Wi-Fi equipment isn’t up to snuff for industrial applications, but what about the communication protocol itself? It turns out that there are a number of people in industry who do think Wi-Fi is a viable network for industrial use.

3. The Future of Manufacturing: Industry 4.0
Germany today is awash in conversations regarding an initiative known as “Industry 4.0.” It began as a German government initiative to spur the industrial sector, which is very important to the German economy, and is based on the use of cyber-physical systems.

4. Google Glass Comes to Manufacturing
Google Glass got a lot of press in 2013, but mostly for consumer augmented reality applications such as restaurant reviews/ratings and shopping. Using the MTConnect app, Google Glass can also be used for training and to receive and share machine operating data.

5. Schneider Electric Agrees to Purchase Invensys
After negotiations with other potential buyers failed to progress, Schneider Electric agreed to acquire Invensys for 3.4 billion pounds (about $5.5 billion). Since the deal was struck in July, the two companies have been busy securing the necessary shareholder and anti-trust approvals around the world.

6. Manufacturing and the ‘Internet of Things’
Though published in 2011, this article still rings true with readers looking for more information on a topic that has really taken hold in 2013. This article takes an in-depth look at whether the concept of networking every device imaginable to achieve higher levels of automated interaction is as viable for manufacturing as it is promised to be for the consumer sector.

7. RTU or PLC: Which is Right for You?
Though programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have become dominant across industry, there are still many applications using remote terminal units (RTUs). Deciding which is right for your use is a discussion that still continues.

8. Automation's Effect on Jobs
There’s been no shortage of discussion over the past decade about the impact automation has had on manufacturing jobs. Based on a discussion raging in Automation World’s LinkedIn group, this article explores the industry’s current state of mind on the topic. Again, this one was published in 2011, but it’s a debate that has not weakened in 2013, and readers continue to seek out opinions.

9.  How Embedded Systems Are Changing Automation
Over the past decade, new microprocessor technologies have changed the face of business and consumer computing. Your tried-and-true automation technologies are now going through a similarly dramatic change.

10. Why Wireless Sensor Networks Are Everywhere (Almost)
It seems like it was not so long ago that there was a serious debate over whether or not wireless sensor networks—and wireless communications in general—were a technology suitable for industrial applications. If you take a look around, that debate is over.

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