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As well as sensors and actuators, controllers are a central element of automation technology. The term control technology or industrial control technology stands for devices that control, regulate, monitor, collect data, communicate, and diagnose. In a narrower sense, we understand "control" in automation technology as the influencing of a material or energy flow by a closed loop system in which multiple signals are processed. In turn, the result influences the closed loop system, and the input value influences the controlled output value.
The major role of control technology in industrial development is highlighted by the Industry 4.0 project by the German federal government and German industry. You can find a brief history of the four stages of the industrial revolution below:
In automation technology, there are many designations for controllers with special functions including, for instance:
In its simplest form, a PLC has inputs and outputs, an operating system, and an interface from which a user program can be loaded. This program determines how the outputs are to be activated based on the inputs. The PLC is connected to the machine or system using integrated sensors and actuators.
Sensors in this sense include pushbuttons, incremental encoders, light switches, limit switches, and so on. The actuators used include, for example, contactors, electric valves, or modules for drive controllers (motion control, open-loop speed control with controlled acceleration/deceleration, incremental motor controls). A variety of different displays or visualizations show the status.
In this case, the control logic (program) is produced by connecting relays (contact controls). The design is based on relays, which are usually used for simple control tasks.
CNCs are used in machine tools (turning, drilling, and milling machines). Here, dual numerical codes that are stored in the controller map the workpiece to be created (which is why the name is "numerical control"). These coordinates are implemented in motion sequences for the workpiece by the CNC controller with the aid of software.
These controllers were developed especially for industrial robots and are very similar in their logical design to CNC controllers.
SEW‑EURODRIVE focuses on drive-level closed-loop control in control technology. Based on the application or machine, we combine scalable controller hardware with easily programmable motion control software. The integrated control program covers an extensive range of movement functions when doing so – from basic positioning using electronic cams to robot kinematics.