This post will discuss the profession of Control Systems Engineer (or Control Engineer). What skills and requirements will you need to become a Control Systems Engineer, and what will be your wage expectation?
Table of Contents
Control Systems Engineer, also called Control engineer or Industrial Engineer or Automation and Control engineer.
Control System Engineers work at many levels to design, develop and implement systems for controlling manufacturing processes, machines, plants, and production facilities. Their work involves creating new control systems, modifying existing systems to improve performance, and evaluating the performance of new and existing systems.
These control systems help increase quality, productivity, and efficiency in various industries such as oil refining, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive manufacturing, and plastics.
A Control Systems Engineer will be responsible for all aspects of the automated systems used within an organization. This will include both the hardware and software used.
What is Control engineering?
Control engineering (also known as control systems engineering) is an engineering discipline that focuses on control systems and the design of equipment and systems with specified performance characteristics in controlled environments. Control engineers frequently study electrical, software, or mechanical engineering at universities worldwide.
Control engineering is a discipline that applies control theory to design systems with desired behaviors. Areas of study include analysis and design of feedback control systems, plant modeling, identification and parameter estimation, controller design, optimal control, and adaptive control. Control engineering has widespread application in the manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, chemical, computer, manufacturing, robotics, and power industries.
What does a Control Systems Engineer do?
A Control Systems Engineer usually works in a manufacturing environment and is responsible for control systems and supervising or monitoring large-scale production equipment. Control Systems Engineers work with process engineers, mechanical engineers, and maintenance technicians to ensure that the plant runs efficiently by reducing waste and improving processes. In other words, they will analyze data from various sensors and control the equipment to maximize efficiency in a plant.
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities,Duties, and Responsibilities
The responsibilities of today’s control engineer are in a wide range of disciplines, from PLC programming to complex OT networks and cyber security.
- Understanding industrial Processes for different applications – water, oil, chemicals, manufacturing, and material handling.
- PLC programming – (Ladder Logic, Structured Text, Function Block, Sequential Function Chart) – for example, Allen Bradley/Rockwell Automation (RSlogix500, Studio 5000), Siemens (Step 7, TIA Portal, WinCC Professional SCADA), Planning and developing programs and documentation with PLC software and hardware for control systems.
- Develop HMI – Human Machine Interface solutions for small processes up to entire network deployments. For example, Rockwell Automation (FactoryTalk View ME) and Siemens (WinCC, TIA Portal).
- Design, architect, and implement SCADA systems – Server / Client design, specify, configure, install and maintain. For example, Rockwell Automation (FactoryTalk View SE), Inductive Automation (Ignition), Siemens (Step 7, TIA Portal, WinCC Professional SCADA).
- Distributed Control Systems (DCS) – Development and maintenance.
- Generate documentation and content for the operations section of operation and maintenance manuals.
- Read and design electrical schematics, mechanical drawings, hydraulic and pneumatic schematics
- Industrial Networks – Architecture of OT Networks, Understand, design, maintain and troubleshoot networks such as EthernetIP, Profinet, ControlNet, DeviceNet, Profibus, and OPC
- Understand, maintain and troubleshoot IT networks – TCP/IP-based Industrial Switches, firewalls, Routers, Gateways, Convertors, and network protocols.
- Computer systems – Microsoft Windows Servers and Workstations, and Microsoft Windows domain infrastructures – active directory, file terminal, virtualization
- Experience with relational database systems (MS SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle).
- Software development skills – including knowledge of C++/C#, Python, and VB.
- Sensors – Flow, Level, and Pressure
- Understand, maintain and troubleshoot motor control systems, servo drives, frequency drives (VFD), and electrical distribution systems.
- A strong understanding of electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, and mechanics is also required.
- industrial robotics – programming robots such as ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, etc.
- industrial vision – Vision system for quality control and automation, For example – Cognex.
- Cyber security – Security of Control Systems, backup & recovery strategies implementation, system health, and performance monitoring, security access account management, anti-virus, software patch management, etc. Ensuring compliance with network and domain security standards and Maintaining accurate systems documentation.
- IOT – Understanding the basics of IoT architecture and protocols.
- Commissioning of new and existing equipment, integration, test, debug, Modification/rewiring, and support factory acceptance testing
- Understanding the client’s needs, Developing the control system based on the client’s needs. Support Customers by helping diagnose and correct controls-related issues on installed equipment
- Plan preventative maintenance.
- Collaborate with other engineering disciplines to establish control systems architectures and control strategies for machines, processes, and automation systems. Interface with various plant personnel, including process control applications engineers, instrumentation, electrical, and machinery, and provide systems expertise to the Maintenance and Operations teams.
- Mentor less experienced engineers to develop skills
- Strong problem-solving skills – no two projects, production lines, or problems are the same.
- Technical English is essential; most of the technical literature is in English.
- Autodidact – The ability of self-learning is essential for you to become a good engineer.
- Basic project management skills
What is the importance of control systems?
The control systems engineers are working in a manufacturing environment with critical equipment and the downtime in such systems has to be minimized.
Also, the programs and systems the control engineer develop are activating the process with all the dangers for equipment and personal, there is no room for mistakes in the control engineer’s work.
How to Become a Control Systems Engineer
To Become a Control Systems Engineer, one has to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering or Computer Systems Engineering.
This is true to some extent because there are “Control Engineers” in the industry without an engineering degree.
Since there is a shortage of control engineers all over the world, If someone wants a career as a control engineer without a Bachelor’s degree, all they have to do is learn and gather the knowledge required to work as one, and its almost guaranteed to find job in the future.
After you educate yourself and get ready to start working as a control system engineer, a long and satisfying career is waiting for you.
What is a typical salary for a Control Systems Engineer?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics of Industrial Engineers, in May 2021, the Mean annual income is $95,200.
The annual wage for a Control Systems engineer ranges between $60,850 and $129,620. Of course, an engineer’s location, prior education and expertise, and years of experience can significantly impact the salary.
Hope we have answered your question, “What is a Control Systems Engineer?”.
In our view, this is a fascinating field of electrical engineering. The time between concept and production is extremely short, so seeing our new control system produce products at such a rapid speed is gratifying.
Thank you for reading this article, and go ahead and pass it along to a friend who might need some help with this question.