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Teaching Controls With Pl Cs

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.580.1 - 5.580.8



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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1566

Teaching Controls With PLCs

by Hugh Jack Padnos School of Engineering Grand Valley State University


In industrial practice it is much more common to control a process using logical control for dis- crete on/off states. As a result most industrial equipment designs use Programmable Logic Con- trollers (PLCs). These controllers support multiple control schemes such as Boolean logical control, sequential logic control, structured programming, linear controls, graphical interfaces, fuzzy logic, etc.

A majority of engineering students are taught control of continuous systems using linear control theory. These courses often include topics such as step response and design of lead/lag control- lers. In terms of the pedagogy, linear controls are less desirable for the mechanical engineering students because they are very difficult to implement in actual designs. The linear approach makes more sense for electrical engineering students who are familiar with the mathematical tools, and can implement the control system easily with common electronic components.

This paper will describe a course, EGR 450 - Manufacturing Control Systems. The course includes lectures, laboratories and a project. This course uses rigorous design techniques and the- oretical methods to teach industrial control to junior and senior engineering students. Topics include the design of basic combinatorial logic, sequential and state based logic, sensors and interfacing, communications and networking, analog I/O and PID control. This course has been very well received by students and local manufacturers.

1.0 Introduction

For the last few decades, engineering students have primarily learned control using linear con-trol theory. These techniques are rich mathematically, but far removed from common practice. This approach is not beneficial for the majority of our students who will graduate with a Bachelors degree and enter industry. This is not to say that they will not encounter linear controls, but they will encounter logical control systems. Industries are desperate for engineers capable of dealing with real controls systems for day-to-day equipment. This has been recognized by the SME (Soci- ety of Manufacturing Engineers) Education Foundation Report7 that lists significant industry needs, including knowledge of physical control of machinery including CNC (Computer Numeri- cal Control), PLCs, sensors, etc.

Jack, H. (2000, June), Teaching Controls With Pl Cs Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8743

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