Distributed control systems are systems that are mainly used in the manufacturing industries to automate various processes. Just as its name suggests, its controls are not centrally located, rather they are distributed throughout the system, in sub-components that are controlled by one or more controllers. All of these controllers are inter-linked in for them to communicate with one another and to allow for communication.
Distributed control systems are used in a number of industries like in the electrical generation plants, chemical plants to control radio and traffic signals etc. In the electrical industries for example, they are used to control various electrical equipment in order to achieve the desired power output and distribution. Apart from the plant, they also control the distribution of the power over the power grid, something that is crucial in order to have the standard distributional power to avoid any damages to electrical equipment as well as any dangers associated with high electrical power. In addition to that, a good example of an organization that is very conscious on the uses of distributed control systems is the ASHRAE, which stands for the American society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air conditioning.
How does a distributed control system work? It has controllers that are inter-connected for communication. This communication is achieved by the input and output modules in each controller. When data is sent in from one controller, the receiving controller receives it via the input module, processes it by carrying out the required process, like toxic gas release, and then relays further data through the output module. This relayed data is then transferred to another controller’s input module. All the data in the system is controlled from the data center.
The controllers in the distributed control systems are connected to each other via computer buses. These computer buses are then connected to the central computer which is in turn connected to a human computer interface. This interface allows for human control and monitoring of the entire system. Although it is an automation system, sometimes humans need to monitor it to ensure everything is running smoothly as required. For example, an individual constantly needs to monitor the control room pressurization to ensure that the entire distributed control system is not compromised.
However, despite occasional human control, these types of automation systems sometimes have problems. They are made up of various metals including copper and silver, something that may bring about copper corrosion and silver corrosion due to the chemicals being used. This kind of problem is usually more serious in food industries because it may contaminate the food being manufactured and hence immediate corrective measures in controlling contamination are required. Other problems that may be experienced include electronic corrosion leading to server failure, electronic failure, premature failure, etc.
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