Industrial Automation and Control

Industrial automation is the use of various control devices used to have control over various operations of an industry without significant intervention from humans and to provide automatic control performance. Industrial automation involves the use of advanced control devices like PLCs, sensors, contactors, circuit breakers, relays, switches, signal conditioning equipment, cables, connectors, drives and other significant final control devices like motors, valves, communication systems, Indicators, panel instruments and HMI (Human Machine Interface) systems.

The structure of the industrial automation includes sensor level which provides detailed information for a particular variable at the bottom followed by automation control level which processes the sensor data, supervision level which takes the necessary control action by setting commands to actuators. Communication between various levels is implemented using wired or wireless communication channels and is an integral part of any complex automated system. Modern systems use communication networks, instead of point to point wired connections. Automated systems utilize digital shared communication networks with a number of communication protocols like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, RS-485, RS-422, RS-232 and Bluetooth. The advancements in wireless networking technology, specifically in short-range wireless networking technology, offer an enormous opportunity for wireless connectivity of field devices both in oil and gas and other chemical processing plants.

A variety of power sources are typically required to operate industrial machinery. Power supplies, primarily AC to DC converters, which include unregulated, linear and switching power supplies required to enable the operation of various devices used in the system.

Modern Industrial Automation is a mix of very low voltage devices used for sensing and processing and high voltage devices used for control which increases the complexity and risk of failure in industrial installations. Hence, protection devices have become a critical and necessary part of normal industrial system operations. Circuit Breakers, Fuses, Transient Voltage Suppression, Surge Protectors are some of the devices used for protection. Determining whether a circuit is adequately protected can require a high-level view of the electrical distribution system, from the fault current available at the source of supply down to the end device connected in the system. Circuit protection includes protection from equipment overload conditions, under voltage and overvoltage conditions, ground faults and short circuits. PLC and control hardware need a safe and secure home within the harsh industrial environment. The power distribution, safety system, contactors, relays, controllers and terminals need to be housed in the appropriate control enclosure. In order to select the appropriate level of protection, NEMA rating guidelines are used.