A disciplined approach to control system development

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This article explains the basic method to rapid control system development, as well as ways to create a reliable system model that a virtual controller may be developed against.

By Cal Swanson, Senior Principle Engineer, Single Iteration (a division of Watlow Electric Manufacturing Co.)

DEVELOPING A control system rapidly and cost effectively requires a disciplined approach that exposes design limitations early so they can be corrected before the costs and schedule go out of control. The efforts to accomplish this appear to require a great deal of time and effort when compared to the trial-and-error approach to control development that is often used.

The risk is always in whether the system to be controlled is simple enough that a quick-fix, off-the-shelf solution will work or not. In order to evaluate this risk, the complexity of the system needs to be assessed through testing so that, in the end, when you commit to hardware, you have the greatest chance of success and the least likelihood of having to scrap your system and start over.