Measurement and control devices shall be regarded as an essential part of any automated facility. This type of equipment includes various temperature measurement and control units, liquid analysis apparatus, pressure measurement appliances, level measuring elements, flow and humidity control items. Whereas the following main functions shall be identified: automation itself, monitoring, tracking and recording.
The function of overall automation on the field level shall be entrusted to the controllers, sensors, relays and actuators, valves, drives and motors. As a whole, the field level may be described as “eyes and arms” of the automated facility. This is the lowest, but the most important section of any automated production facility. Sensors collect and convert information like temperature, pressure, flow, electrical signals and further pass it to the controllers. This allows operators to monitor the processes in real time, make analysis and improvements without interruption of the operation. There are following types of sensors: proximity sensors, RTDs (resistance temperature detectors), thermocouples, flow monitors, photoelectric, area , laser, color and contrast, fork, ultrasonic proximity sensors and other types.
“The arms” include various types of actuators that convert electrical signals from controllers into mechanical operation. Following units can be highlighted here: control valves, solenoids, actuators, relays, AC/DC and servo motors. Actuators can be hydraulic, pneumatic, electric, thermal, magnetic and mechanical.
The purpose of automation monitoring is to prevent risk to personnel, machines and the environment or to reduce them to an acceptable level. These measures allow not only to ensure safety, but also to avoid downtimes and to identify “bottlenecks’ in the existing processes and to optimize them.
An important function of any automated production environment is control of process variables such as temperature, pressure, speed, acceleration, flow, humidity, level and others. A mixture of sensors and various controllers and setups is typically used for such purposes.
Separate note should be made of the recording hardware used within automation systems. This includes devices for capturing, archiving and evaluating the process data. Paperless data recording units are mostly used for capturing analog and digital process data. Modern recording apparatus are characterized by an intuitive operation interface, high performance and reliability.
The following producers of high quality measurement and control devices for industrial automation may be highlighted. Jumo is German entity that focused on development and production of a vast range of temperature sensing units and thermostats, flow and level measuring devices, as well modular multifunctional measurement systems.
Dynapar USA offers a wide range of encoders, resolvers and corresponding accessories mostly used for motion control applications. Dynapar industrial products can be used for heavy duty applications and are characterized by high reliability, providing stability of any production environment.
Pilz is a leading supplier of components, systems and services provider for automation technology. The company provides sensors, relays, controllers, service robotics modules, corresponding software and consulting services.