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  • An Insight into Control Systems Design



    Published On: 01/20/15

     A control system is a device that instructs, manages or regulates the behavior of other devices or systems. Control systems play an important part in our lives. Almost daily, we come across one or more devices that have dedicated controller. They are in our homes incorporated in the washing machines, in our vehicles and in every field of science, engineering and technology. Mission-critical processes may fail to perform if the control panel doesn’t work or in worst cases, the entire production line may go wrong in an industry if there is any hitch in the control system. The practicality of all the electronic and automated systems depends upon the interactivity of these devices. It is therefore essential to develop a design that effectively deals with the complexity involved in the process and is operator friendly.

    A control system generally consists of equipments, a software package and an electronic control layer which handles human-machine interaction, usually referred to as a Human Machine Interface (HMI). It generally has numerical setpoints, buttons, and displays which allow the operator to interact with equipment and control it. The visual aid also allows the individuals to troubleshoot faults and get general information, including status, flows, levels, pressure, etc. about the entire system at one place in real time.

     

    The system design process involves analyzing instrumentation, process and requirements to develop the preliminary documentation which is necessary to implement a successful process control system. This documentation includes a process control network (PCN) architecture diagram, required specifications of control system, a control narrative, a complete instrument index, interlock notes as well as other standard documentation.

     

    A control engineer is responsible for designing the entire system based on these parameters and documentations. He uses various equipments and sensors to measure the output performance of the device being controlled. The gathered measurement data is then used to give feedback to the input actuators that can make rectifications toward desired performance. The devices that don’t require human intervention at all for their operation are called automated devices. Automated test equipment (ATE) is one such example of such a device.

     

    Being a control systems engineer is a challenging career option, therefore there is a lack of skilled individuals who can work in this domain.  Due to this reason, companies find it quite difficult and time consuming to find individuals with hands-on expertise in control system engineering. Hence, for them, it’s more convenient to find third party firms that could help them design and develop their custom control systems.  These firms provide assistance from designing to development and validation of these systems, thereby cutting off the majority of worries of the company. They are highly-experienced professionals who have gone through simple to complex projects of the clients. Moreover, this is a more cost-effective approach as compared to doing it in-house because organizations don’t have to pay for resources, infrastructure, salaries, latest technologies, hardware, software and more. They are only supposed to pay for the work done. 




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