How to troubleshoot and calibrate 4-20 mA

Best practices for troubleshooting analog circuits to the PLC.

By Mike Bacidore

ResizedImage182325 4 20 mAControl Design reader writes: We have several temperature, pressure and flow sensors on a new medical-device cleaning skid that we are developing. These instruments are connected to a PLC as 4-20 mA inputs, and there is also a 4-20 mA output used to control a pump motor speed. A recent failure of a flow sensor brought the process skid instrumentation to my company's quality manager's attention. He asked how we know that the temperatures, pressure and flow are accurate, and how do we know that we are cleaning properly.

I've been tasked to write a procedure for troubleshooting, calibrating and testing the 4-20 mA instruments on the skid. I can probably stumble through this, but what are some best practices for troubleshooting the analog circuits to the PLC; how do I calibrate the instruments; and how should I periodically test the devices? Should I add programming to the PLC and HMI to simplify these functions?

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