Control system

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control system

control system manages, commands, directs, or regulates the behavior of other devices or systems using control loops. It can range from a single home heating controller using a thermostat controlling a domestic boiler to large industrial control systems which are used for controlling processes or machines. The control systems are designed via control engineering process.
There are two common classes of control action: open loop and closed loop. In an open-loop control system, the control action from the controller is independent of the process variable. An example of this is a central heating boiler controlled only by a timer. The control action is the switching on or off of the boiler. The process variable is the building temperature. This controller operates the heating system for a constant time regardless of the temperature of the building.
In a closed-loop control system, the control action from the controller is dependent on the desired and actual process variable. In the case of the boiler analogy, this would utilize a thermostat to monitor the building temperature, and feed back a signal to ensure the controller output maintains the building temperature close to that set on the thermostat. A closed-loop controller has a feedback loop which ensures the controller exerts a control action to control a process variable at the same value as the setpoint. For this reason, closed-loop controllers are also called feedback controllers.[1]
On–off control uses a feedback controller that switches abruptly between two states. A simple bi-metallic domestic thermostat can be described as an on-off controller. When the temperature in the room (PV) goes below the user setting (SP), the heater is switched on. Another example is a pressure switch on an air compressor. When the pressure (PV) drops below the setpoint (SP) the compressor is powered. Refrigerators and vacuum pumps contain similar mechanisms. Simple on–off control systems like these can be cheap and effective.
Logic control systems for industrial and commercial machinery were historically implemented by interconnected electrical relays and cam timers using ladder logic. Today, most such systems are constructed with microcontrollers or more specialized programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The notation of ladder logic is still in use as a programming method for PLCs.[2]
Logic controllers may respond to switches and sensors and can cause the machinery to start and stop various operations through the use of actuators. Logic controllers are used to sequence mechanical operations in many applications. Examples include elevators, washing machines and other systems with interrelated operations. An automatic sequential control system may trigger a series of mechanical actuators in the correct sequence to perform a task. For example, various electric and pneumatic transducers may fold and glue a cardboard box, fill it with the product and then seal it in an automatic packaging machine.

Furnace example[edit]
When controlling the temperature of an industrial furnace, it is usually better to control the opening of the fuel valve in proportion to the current needs of the furnace. This helps avoid thermal shocks and applies heat more effectively.
At low gains, only a small corrective action is applied when errors are detected. The system may be safe and stable, but may be sluggish in response to changing conditions. Errors will remain uncorrected for relatively long periods of time and the system is overdamped. If the proportional gain is increased, such systems become more responsive and errors are dealt with more quickly. There is an optimal value for the gain setting when the overall system is said to be critically damped. Increases in loop gain beyond this point lead to oscillations in the PV and such a system is underdamped. Adjusting gain to achieve critically damped behavior is known as tuning the control system.
In the underdamped case, the furnace heats quickly. Once the setpoint is reached, stored heat within the heater sub-system and in the walls of the furnace will keep the measured temperature rising beyond what is required. After rising above the setpoint, the temperature falls back and eventually heat is applied again. Any delay in reheating the heater sub-system allows the furnace temperature to fall further below setpoint and the cycle repeats. The temperature oscillations that an underdamped furnace control system produces are undesirable.
In a critically damped system, as the temperature approaches the setpoint, the heat input begins to be reduced, the rate of heating of the furnace has time to slow and the system avoids overshoot. Overshoot is also avoided in an overdamped system but an overdamped system is unnecessarily slow to initially reach setpoint respond to external changes to the system, e.g. opening the furnace door.
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