Software for Control Systems

Software for Test Machine Data Collection Software is the heart of computer control systems. There are many software languages used in control systems.

Ladder Logic

Most PLC controllers can be programmed in ladder logic. One application we programmed using ladder logic was for a ship yard pipe flange welder. Through a user interface panel the operator could enter parameters about the length of pipe, type of flange, offset angle for the flanges between each end, and welding parameters.

The machine would load a section of pipe, check for the proper length, move the flanges into position and tack weld them, move the chucks holding the flanges out of the way, then lay down continuos weld beads to permanently fasten the flanges to each end of the pipe, and finally roll the piece of pipe off the machine in preparation for accepting the next section.

An example of another project using Ladder Logic: Cake Decorator Software.

Motion Controllers

Because motor control requires specialized controllers and require functions not needed for other types of control, motion controllers often use a proprietary language that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Besides PLC based motion controller used in the pipe flange welder project we have worked with a variety of motion controllers.

Some of the projects requiring motion control programming include:

Mobile Areospace Robot

Cake Decorator Software

Cut to Length Machine

Software Controlled Test Machine

Embedded Controllers

Another form of computer control that often uses proprietary languages are embedded controllers or microprocessors that are mounted inside of a machine. These languages are often variations of other computer programming languages such as C, BASIC, PASCAL, or FORTH.

Here is an example of a control system software that uses embedded controllers: Mobile Areospace Robotics.

PC Controllers

In some cases a control system needs centralized control, extensive user interfaces, automated reporting, and/or data logging. In such circumstances a PC may be the best choice. Because PC's are so readily available they are comparatively inexpensive and easy to find or repair. Other advantages are the selection of programming tools and the computing speed of the systems.

A few examples of control systems that include the use of PC's are:

Mobile Aerospace Robotics Vehicle - uses a PC as the user interface

Cake Decorator Software - uses a PC to as the user interface

Refrigerated Storage Controls - uses a PC for control, data logging, reporting, centralized control, and user interface

A Test Machine - uses a PC for user interface, data collection and storage, and control in conjunction with a motion controller.

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