With an automation system, it is possible to control almost any physical process with e.g. actuators, pumps, valves, sensors etc. The scope of automation systems can vary from complete factories to the control of a single actuator and include very different functionalities. Typical functionalities include measurements and their processing, controlling, adjustments and user interface (e.g. touch screen) for manual control inputs, monitoring of process status and changing settings, among others.
Equipment and system principle
The foundation of an automation control system is a programmable logic controller (PLC) and system-specific program. StrongFlow uses mainly Schneider Electric’s M340 and M241/251 PLCs. The PLC hardware configuration is affected by the interfaces/protocols used with applied sensors and actuators (digital and analogue controls, measurement and possible fieldbus interfaces). In addition to the PLC, sensors measuring physical operations and controls for the actuators are required. The internal and external signals from control systems (integrations with other systems) are transmitted with wire or wirelessly using the appropriate protocol.
Required information for system design
Automation system design is based on the requirements of process to be controlled. The best starting point for defining an offer and design is a functional description which includes the required functionality of the equipment/process, applied sensors and actuators (as far as they have been defined) and power supply information (supply voltage and frequency). However, very often the control system design is an iterative process where the best overall solution is developed together with the customer and other system suppliers (e.g. mechanic, hydraulic and other automation system providers).