The Book of Instrumentation

The Book of Instrumentation

In 2018, Visaya’s content team got together and decided to create a book of instrumentation!

This article will be under construction until the end of 2018, and we’ll fill it with content throughout the year. Don’t worry, we’ll organize it all and keep it readable (I hope).

Stick with us during this challenge in 2018 (along with my own challenge to lose weight, but that’s a topic for another blog)!


As a student, if I wanted to read more about the topics I was studying, I had to visit the school library. In general, technical books are painfully hard for a student to afford. I still wonder why those books are so expensive.

Now we have a bunch of process automation websites out there, but they all seem the same. Some have great articles, but most are biased, making it hard to find neutral information on topics such as measuring principles or Industry 4.0.

And many authors still share their insights the old-fashioned way, offline. Of course, online you have to share in a different way or risk losing your readers when they don’t find what they want. We developed Visaya’s content with those challenges in mind.

First off, besides all the technical stuff, we answer the questions people ask Google. Second off, we provide all you need to know about a vendor’s device before choosing it for your application. Third off, we find fun and interesting ways to talk about our nerdy automation stuff to make it worth reading at home as well as at the plant.

Since the start of 2017, we’ve posted more than 600 articles covering different topics and answering a wide range of questions. Now, we want to condense those articles into a free digital book, The Book of Instrumentation. It will allow you to find everything you need to know about instrumentation at your fingertips. Then we can go forward in other topics.

This book will cover the basics of the process automation world, measuring devices, digital protocols, final elements, and control systems.

Hope you enjoy it!

Author: Fabrício Andrade, Co-Author: Raphael Freitas, Editor: Kat Philips

Table of Contents

What’s automation?

Let’s start from the beginning, defining automation! You’ve heard about automation at least once in your life, because this broad topic covers things in your daily life as well as in big industries. Even though your daily automation differs dramatically from industrial automation, they follow the same principle.

Okay, so what does automation mean?

Courtesy of

We can define automation as the procedure to make things run without humans to control them all the time. Automation can control many kinds of processes and machinery. For this to happen, you must measure a certain physical or chemical variable. A control system can compare the variable with a setpoint, then actuate a final element to control it.

You can control any kind of process – electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and so on. You’ll also find automation in different industry segments – water treatment, food production, mining, and more. We have an section here at Visaya where you can view lots of content on different industries.

Then we have building automation for heating and cooling, fire suppression, access, security, and so on.  And now, with digitalization and the Internet of Things (IoT), we have so many smart devices at home. Alexa and Google Home can control lamps, coffee machines, heaters, and other stuff in the average home.

Courtesy of

Within this range of topics, we’ll share things related to process automation like application types, field networks, control systems, and frequently asked questions.

The new and old automation pyramid

I’m sure you hear about the automation pyramid once a day, right? This topic will review automation as it is, but also as it may become with IoT, cloud computing, and Industry 4.0 stuff. If you already know about the pyramid, don’t leave yet, because we’ll cover the NEW architecture.

A good chunk of automation discussion on the internet centers around the structure of the pyramid now with all the smart sensors and whatnot. We have all kinds of field sensors to measure and detect certain process variables. These smart and not-so-smart sensors send their data to the control system through standard communication protocols.

Courtesy of

Once all this data reaches the control system, it uses the data to control and actuate the final elements. The control system maintains the quality, quantity, security, and schedule of the process.

The automation pyramid provides an easy understanding of all automation levels in the process, from measuring to management.

You can read all about it in our article on the old and new automation pyramid.

Automation technician

Okay, now that we have the basics on process automation, what’s the difference between a technician and an engineer? Will I do the same work as an engineer if I’m a technician? Will I make the same amount of money? Hold on! We’re getting to that!

Both technicians and engineers can create and modify automated processes. However, you could call the technician the “doer” in this picture. Technicians get more hands-on experience than engineers and focus on a job’s practical elements. They provide assistance in certain areas and perform the daily tasks required to keep processes running smoothly.

Click on the link to read our post on the automation technician.

Automation engineer

With so many types of automation, how can you choose where you’ll fit best? And what exactly does an automation engineer do? I’m sure these questions have haunted many a young STEM hopeful.

An automation engineer sets the automation of a process. You must understand the process and its needs to select the appropriate devices to monitor, measure, and control all the necessary variables. This work includes choosing and programming a control system appropriate to the process.

At this stage, you have protocols, the languages spoken between measuring devices and control systems. Four main protocols cover most applications – analog, HART, PROFIBUS PA, and FOUNDATION Fieldbus. More have begun to take hold, like EtherNet/IP and PROFINET.

Click this link to read the entire article about the automation engineer.


Under construction
Under construction
Hi! It's nice to see you're interested
If you want to ask a question, or you want to contribute and reply to post, you have to sign in. Don't worry, we won't send you newsletters without your permission!
The Book of Instrumentation
Getting in the loop - simple math for good analog values
How to convert analog (4-20mA) to voltage
Product Review: FFU flow sensor from SICK
Buyer Guide: Rosemount 648 and ABB TSP300-W
See related devices