One of the lesser known services that Encorus Group offers is control systems engineering design. This discipline is relatively broad, so Senior Electrical Engineer Tom Gilmartin elaborates on when control systems engineering is widely used, which is in the manufacturing process.
A manufacturing process can be thought of as a lineup of equipment in a factory used to produce a product. The product can be anything, from orange juice to airplanes. The process usually includes equipment such as pumps, motors, fans, robots, conveyors, and the like. Typically, a process engineer designs how the system is to function, determining how much of which item (water, chemicals, parts, powder, etc.) has to move where in the system.
Once the process engineer has defined the process, mechanical and electrical engineers step in and design a system to perform the process. This might include sizing equipment, designing electrical feeds, laying out the process physically and fitting it into a building.
With the process defined, and the power and mechanical equipment selected, the controls engineer is called in to finalize the process. The controls engineer, with some help from others, selects instruments necessary to make measurements on the process, such as flow, pressure, temperature, etc. The controls engineer designs communications and wiring to allow all the instruments and devices to communicate to an industrial computer. The computer is programmed to run the process, and to monitor its operation. This often includes a “human machine interface” (HMI), typically a computer screen and keyboard, which provides a visual representation of what is happening in the process as it runs. Controls engineers will start up and test the process, adjusting programming as needed to produce the product correctly.
After the process is functional, it is turned over to plant personnel and run by plant operators. Normally the system will operate for 10 years or more, cranking out its intended product. Once the system begins to fail, the procedure of creating a new manufacturing process begins again.
If your company has a requirement for control systems engineering design, contact Director of Engineering Design Services Tom Gilmartin, PE, PMP, LEED AP, at (716) 592-3980 ext. 124, or at [email protected].