Many modern industrial processes and equipment have significantly reduced their reliance on manual input. As more companies adopt automation within operations, production lines often incorporate advanced control systems.
A control system communicates the needs of the operator to the automated production equipment. As inputs get programmed, the control system facilitates the appropriate response from each device. The main function of the control system is to manage, control, monitor and regulate how the devices within its system respond to the received input to provide a controlled output.
Elements in a Control System
A variety of elements combine to form a control system. The primary components of a control system include:
Many industries rely on sensors to measure or monitor certain aspects of processes. The sensor may obtain measurements such as pressure, weight, speed, stress, and more. Sensors may monitor whether a function completes an assigned task to provide a desired output, such as allowing another control system to operate in the next part of the production line. Sensors often provide vital warnings when a system is malfunctioning.
Flow meters measure process fluids moving through pipes and systems and ensure that current conditioners do not exceed or fall short of their desired flow rates. These meters use various methods to measure factors such as the mass rate, linear/nonlinear rate, or volumetric rate of gases or liquids. The specific function depends on the type of meter used. The different types of meters include positive displacement, differential, and inferential meters.
A pressure sensor converts pressure within a system into a readable analog signal. Numerous process applications and hydraulic and pneumatic systems rely on pressure sensors to monitor relative system pressure. Examples of pressure sensors include pressure switches that trip at a specific pressure point, or pressure transmitters that offer differential analog or absolute pressure readings across a broad range of measurement.
Temperature detectors monitor the temperatures in the ambient environment, as well as in process fluids and materials. The control system may then quantify this data to perform a function, whether it involves moving a mechanical dial on a display, activating an alarm or notification, or more complex functions.
Feedback control systems are types of closed loop systems. In a closed loop system, the input may be at an undesired rate, volume, mass, temperature, or other factor. Rather than allowing an immediate output, an error signal tells the devices inside the control system to perform specific functions to bring the input to a preset level. The feed goes through the system repeatedly in a feedback loop until it reaches the correct level for output. The control system will only allow the input to proceed through the output when it reaches the specified level.
There are numerous design concepts that guide the development of industrial process control systems. Best practices for the control system design process include:
- Developing a thorough understanding of all goals for the system, including any variables that need to be controlled. Additionally, create a baseline set of specifications that you can use later to measure the performance of your control system.
- Next, develop a model of the process and how it should function. This will allow you to establish the configuration of the four main elements of any control system, which include controllers, actuators, amplifiers, and feedback components.
- Run simulations and analyze the performance of the control system. Continue to adjust and optimize the various parameters of your design and analyze performance until the control system meets your baseline specifications. Once these specifications have been met, you can finalize the design.
- With a finalized design, you can move into the programming and software development phase for your control system.
Control Systems by Turner Integrated Systems
Turner Integrated Systems provides industrial process control system design, software development, and fabrication services for manufacturers and industrial companies. We offer supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and process control systems including flow meters, specialized sensor systems, analytical sensors, and remote access control systems. We offer simple control sensors for standalone equipment to highly advanced systems that may be linked to ERP systems or centralized analysis software.
For more information about control systems and how they can improve your production operation, please contact us today.