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Temperature Controller | Temperature Transmitter | PID Controller


Industrial Temperature Controllers & Transmitter

Temperature Controllers are widely used in diverse industries from plastics manufacture, food production through to metal processing plants & pottery kilns.

A home thermostat is an example of a closed control loop temperature controller: It constantly assesses the current room temperature and controls a heater and/or air conditioner to increase or decrease the temperature according to user-defined setting(s). A simple (low-cost, cheap) thermostat merely switches the heater or air conditioner either on or off, and temporary overshoot and undershoot of the desired average temperature must be expected. This type of temperature control is adequate for regulation of room temperatures but not satisfactory for most manufacturing processes where a closer temperature tolerance is required. A more expensive type of temperature control varies the amount of heat or cooling provided by the heater or cooler, depending on the difference between the required temperature (the "setpoint") and the actual temperature. This minimizes over/undershoot. The process is called PID and is implemented using a PID temperature controller.

Pid Controller

A proportional-integral-derivative controller (PID controller) is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller) widely used in industrial temperature control systems - a PID controller is the most commonly used feedback controller. A PID temperature controller calculates an "error" value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint. The controller attempts to minimize the error by adjusting the process control inputs.

The PID controller calculation (algorithm) involves three separate constant parameters, and is accordingly sometimes called three-term control: the proportional, the integral and derivative values, denoted P, I, and D. Heuristically, these values can be interpreted in terms of time: P depends on the present error, I on the accumulation of past errors, and D is a prediction of future errors, based on current rate of change. The weighted sum of these three actions is used to adjust the process via a control element such as the position of a control valve, or the power supplied to a heating element.

In the absence of knowledge of the underlying process, a PID temperature controller has historically been considered to be the best type of controller. By tuning the three parameters in the PID controller algorithm, the controller can provide control action designed for specific process requirements. The response of the controller can be described in terms of the responsiveness of the controller to an error, the degree to which the controller overshoots the setpoint and the degree of system oscillation. Note that the use of the PID algorithm for control does not guarantee optimal control of the system or system stability.

Some applications may require using only one or two actions to provide the appropriate system control. This is achieved by setting the other parameters to zero. A PID controller will be called a PI, PD, P or I controller in the absence of the respective control actions. PI controllers are fairly common, since derivative action is sensitive to measurement noise, whereas the absence of an integral term (as in a PD controller) may prevent the system from reaching its target value due to the control action.

A familiar example of a control loop is the action taken when adjusting hot and cold faucets (valves) to maintain the water at a desired temperature. This typically involves the mixing of two process streams, the hot and cold water. The person touches the water to sense or measure its temperature. Based on this feedback they perform a control action to adjust the hot and cold water valves until the process temperature stabilizes at the desired value.

The sensed water temperature is the process variable or process value (PV). The desired temperature is called the setpoint (SP). The input to the process (the water valve position) is called the manipulated variable (MV). The difference between the temperature measurement and the setpoint is the error (e) and quantifies whether the water is too hot or too cold and by how much.

After measuring the temperature (PV), and then calculating the error, the controller decides when to change the tap position (MV) and by how much. When the controller first turns the valve on, it may turn the hot valve only slightly if warm water is desired, or it may open the valve all the way if very hot water is desired. This is an example of a simple proportional control. In the event that hot water does not arrive quickly, the controller may try to speed-up the process by opening up the hot water valve more-and-more as time goes by. This is an example of an integral control.

Making a change that is too large when the error is small is equivalent to a high gain controller and will lead to overshoot. If the controller were to repeatedly make changes that were too large and repeatedly overshoot the target, the output would oscillate around the setpoint in either a constant, growing, or decaying sinusoid. If the oscillations increase with time then the system is unstable, whereas if they decrease the system is stable. If the oscillations remain at a constant magnitude the system is marginally stable.

In the interest of achieving a gradual convergence at the desired temperature (SP), the controller may wish to damp the anticipated future oscillations. So in order to compensate for this effect, the controller may elect to temper its adjustments. This can be thought of as a derivative control method.

If a controller starts from a stable state at zero error (PV = SP), then further changes by the controller will be in response to changes in other measured or unmeasured inputs to the process that impact on the process, and hence on the PV. Variables that impact on the process other than the MV are known as disturbances. Generally controllers are used to reject disturbances and/or implement setpoint changes. Changes in feedwater temperature constitute a disturbance to the faucet temperature control process.

In theory, a controller can be used to control any process which has a measurable output (PV), a known ideal value for that output (SP) and an input to the process (MV) that will affect the relevant PV. Controllers are used in industry to regulate temperature, pressure, flow rate, chemical composition, speed and practically every other variable for which a measurement exists.

Tuning a temperature control loop is the adjustment of its PID control parameters (proportional band/gain, integral gain/reset, derivative gain/rate) to the optimum values for the desired control response. Stability (bounded oscillation) is a basic requirement, but beyond that, different systems have different behavior, different applications have different requirements, and requirements may conflict with one another.

PID tuning is a difficult problem, even though there are only three parameters and in principle is simple to describe, because it must satisfy complex criteria within the limitations of PID control. There are accordingly various methods for loop tuning, and more sophisticated techniques are the subject of patents; this section describes some traditional manual methods for loop tuning.

Pid Temperature Controller

Designing and tuning a PID temperature controller appears to be conceptually intuitive, but can be hard in practice, if multiple (and often conflicting) objectives such as short transient and high stability are to be achieved. Usually, initial designs need to be adjusted repeatedly through computer simulations until the closed-loop system performs or compromises as desired.

Some processes have a degree of non-linearity and so parameters that work well at full-load conditions don't work when the process is starting up from no-load; this can be corrected by gain scheduling (using different parameters in different operating regions). PID controllers often provide acceptable control using default tunings, but performance can generally be improved by careful tuning, and performance may be unacceptable with poor tuning.

In many modern larger production plants rather than a bespoke temperature controller, the temperature control is executed by a programmable logic controller or industrial PC which provides all other aspects of plant control in addition. These alternative methods of providing plant PID control usually require additional hardware such as isolators or temperature transmitters as most industrial PC's and PLC's do not usually have isolated inputs or accept common temperature signals directly from sensors such as thermocouples or RTD's.

There are two common types of temperature transmitters. DIN rail temperature transmitters are housed in the control panel. These transmitters can be used when there are no possible problems such as interference affecting the temperature sensor signal from the point of measurement to the DIN rail transmitter itself or where the cable length from the sensor is not too long, as this increases risk of interference and adds resistance to the cables which the signal must be able to overcome. The other common type of temperature transmitter used are the head mount transmitter. They can be mounted in sensor terminal heads directly, this eliminate problems with interference. These types of transmitters have become very low cost and versatile due to being configurable for most types of sensors.

Temperature Controller | Temperature Transmitter | Pid Controller