Control systems: the intelligent heart and brain of a process

Fri 18 June 2021

Thanks to technological innovations, automation has become very usual in our society. Automated processes are around us everywhere. As it seems, this generally all goes well, but to achieve this, a great deal of expertise is necessary. And engineers with specific knowledge are needed to get and keep things right. Control systems are the basis for this. They ensure that the process or system functions properly and adjusts where undesirable values ‚Äč‚Äčarise. Dr. ir. Jan Schuurmans, of Dotx Control Solutions and course leader at PAO Techniek en Management, is someone who knows everything about control systems. We asked him some questions about the importance of control systems and the courses he teaches.

Control systems form the basis for automation. They are the intelligent heart and brain of a system. What exactly does a control system do? 
A control system automatically controls 'something'. An example of a control system is the cruise control in cars.

It is logical that a control system must work well. But how complicated is it to make that happen?
It is very different per situation how simple or how complex it is to make a control system work properly. Also relevant is in which case something is good enough or not. That also differs from case to case. You need to know which components to choose for your system or process so that the system functions optimally.

Suppose you choose a component in a control system incorrectly, what can be the consequence?
That depends on the application. Of course you want to arrange everything optimally. But, to give a concrete example, choosing the wrong component can be disastrous: with a rocket or airplane with people or animals on board, the consequences can be fatal.

In addition to safety, there is of course also a great economic importance. If you have your control systems in order, you have a strong position in the market. You can profit financially. And do you also stay ahead of your competitors?
Indeed, a good control system can make all the difference. Take for example the wind turbine manufacturer EWT. Their wind turbines sell extremely well, thanks to the sophisticated control system with which the wind turbines are cheaper and yet perform better than their competitors.

The PAOTM Control systems course is planned for September. What exactly will you learn in this course?
Here you learn the basics so that you can make a good control system. You will learn how to design and choose components (actuators, sensors, electronics, PID algorithm, feedforward and software). You also practice in class with a test system with PLC/Arduino and with simulation models. This way you can immediately apply the acquired knowledge in your own work.

For more specific knowledge, there is also the Advanced control systems course. Who is this course interesting for?
For everyone who is looking for depth. In this course you will gain specific knowledge for using advanced techniques, such as frequency domain tools, filters, feedforward, master-slave, split-range and override control. This course is a must for people who want to make control systems for electromechanical systems.

Are you curious about Jan's courses? He teaches you everything about control systems in small groups and provides you with hands-on skills that you can use directly in your own work. The course Control systems is scheduled for September 14, 21 and 28, 2021. Are you ready for more specific knowledge? On November 2, 9, and 16, 2021 you can follow the course Advanced Control Systems

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