`
,
= sY(s) y(0)
Transform of a combination of signals: (ax(t) + by(t)) = aX(s) + bY(s)
We now examine three case studies, one based on chemical process engineering, one
based on a mechanical system and one describing part of a manufacturing process. We
note, however that most control systems cannot be modelled solely by referring to one
discipline; control systems contain many components from electrical transducers to
mechanical valves to chemical reactors, and the control engineer has to have a good
understanding of the actual system.
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control
Fluid flow systems are very common in process control. These types of system involve
components such as
I
Process: mixing or blending processes, liquid-holding tanks
I
Actuators: valves, pumps
I
Measured values: level, flow, composition
Figure 5.11 shows a tank containing liquid. The flow of liquid into the tank is
controlled by a valve. The control input signal to the valve is a current signal in mA
which is converted into a pressure signal. This pressure is applied to a valve and changes
the valve stem position (in mm). The valve position dictates the amount of flow passing
through the valve into the tank. The height of liquid in the tank is measured by a trans-
ducer (gauge pressure) which produces an output in mA. The parameters of the system are
given in Table 5.1.
I
Process: The process is the change in level of the liquid in the tank. The input signal is
the flow into the tank, q
i
(t) (in m
3
/s). The output signal is the height of liquid in the
tank. Combining these give the process block diagram of Figure 5.12.
110 Modelling for control engineering
I
Transducer: We are interested in measuring the height of liquid in the tank. The
transducer does not measure level directly, but measures pressure. From physics,
pressure = density g head of liquid, and therefore a value for the head, or level of
liquid, can be calculated. The pressure measurement transducer converts the gauge
pressure reading (pressure reading relative to atmospheric) to an equivalent electrical
current signal (in mA). The transducer block diagram is shown in Figure 5.13.
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 111
Flow out
q
o
( ) t
Height/level
h t ( )
Flow in
q
i
( ) t
Control signal
u
c
( ) t
Figure 5.11 Liquid level process.
Physical and design parameters
Height of tank 4 m
Maximum fill level 3 m
Radius of tank 2 m
Tank capacity (volume) 37.68 m
3
Process valve position 025 mm
Pressure input signal 06 bar
Exit pipe restrictance parameter: 140 s/m
2
Table 5.1 Parameters of liquid level system.
Tank
In flow,
m
3
/s
Liquid level,
m
q
i
( ) t h t ( )
Figure 5.12 Process block diagram.
Measurement
transducer
Height,
m
Measured height
mA
h t ( ) h
m
( ) t
Figure 5.13 Measurement transducer.
I
Actuator: The actuation system takes the control signal u
c
(t), a current in mA and
applies this to a current to pressure transducer which in turn produces a valve position,
(in mm). The position of the valve stem determines the flow (in m
3
/s). The actuator
block diagram is given in Figure 5.14
By combining the ActuatorProcessTransducer block diagrams we find the total
process block diagram can be represented by Figure 5.15.
Summarising the above:
I
Process: a liquid level process
I
Transducer: a gauge pressure transducer
I
Actuator system: a process valve controlled by a current signal through a current to
pressure transducer
We now need to introduce some models for the processes within our blocks.
5.4.1 ActuatorProcessTransducer: the Process block
Modelling of systems requires us to determine the relationship between input and output
signals. In the case of the liquid level process (Figure 5.11), we must determine the relation-
ship between the input flow and the output level. The liquid level system shows the liquid
inflow as q
i
(t), and the outflow as q
o
(t). The height is given by h(t) and the constant cross-
sectional area of the tank by A. In control systems we often refer to the process input signal
as u(t) and the process output signal to be controlled as y(t) (Figure 5.16). As we have only one
manipulated input, q
i
(t), and one controlled output, h(t), we classify this as a SISO system.
112 Modelling for control engineering
Process
valve
Control input,
mA
Flow out of valve,
m
3
/s
u
c
( ) t q
i
( ) t
Figure 5.14 Actuator block.
Tank
In flow,
m
3
/s
Liquid level,
m
q
i
( ) t h t ( )
Pressure
transducer
Process
valve
Measured height,
mA
h
m
( ) t
Control input,
mA
u
c
( ) t
Figure 5.15 Combined block diagram for liquid level process.
u(
Liquid level
and tank
process
t q t
i
) ( ) = y t h(t ( ) )
Liquid inflow:
System
q
i
( ) t
Liquid outflow: q
o
( ) t
Liquid level height:
h t ( )
Constant cross-sectional area of tank: A
Figure 5.16 Block diagram of liquid level system.
We model the system using physical principles. The physical equation governing the
change in liquid volume is:
rate of change of volume of liquid = inflow outflow
Thus, if the inflow was equal to the outflow then there would be no change in the volume
of liquid retained by the tank. We have, using the above physical principle:
d
dt
(h(t)A) = q
i
(t) q
o
(t)
We will assume
1. a constant cross-sectional area for the tank (A)
2. the outflow is proportional to the height of liquid: q
o
(t) = h(t)/R, where R represents a
parameter due to pipe restrictance.
Applying these assumptions to the differential equation for rate of change of volume
gives:
A
d
d
h
t
= q
i
(t) q
o
(t) = q
i
(t)
h t
R
( )
or
RA
d
d
h
t
+ h(t) = Rq
i
(t)
We have an equation with one first-order derivative, dh/dt; hence the system is modelled
by a first-order differential equation. Letting AR = and K = R, then we can write the
equation in a standard form:
d
d
h
t
+ h(t) = Kq
i
(t)
This system equation has two parameters associated with it: K and . K is referred to as
the system gain and is called the time constant for the system with units of time.
Using the information on the properties of the tank, we can work out the values of K
and :
K = R = 140 s/m
2
= AR = r
2
R = 12.6 140 = 1758 s = 29.3 min
Key result: Laplace transformation of process equations
We can apply Laplace transforms to the first-order differential equation
d
d
h
t
+ h(t) = Kq
i
(t)
This gives
L
d
d
h
t
h t +
'
'
( ) = {Kq
i
(t)}
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 113
L +L L
d
d
i
o i
h
t
h t Kq t
sH s h H s KQ
'
'
+
{ ( )} { ( )}
( ( ) ) ( ) ( ) s
Assuming in this example that the tank level starts at zero (h
o
= 0) and rearranging gives
H s
K
s
Q s G s Q s ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
+
1
i p i
In block diagram format it can be written as:
where G
p
(s) = K/( s + 1)
5.4.2 ActuatorProcessTransducer: the Transducer block
Level transducers can take many forms:
I
Measuring the differential pressure or gauge pressure (pressure relative to atmospheric)
in a vessel will give an indication of level.
I
Ultrasonic meters can detect depth by measuring the time taken for the ultrasonic
beam to be deflected from the boundaries in the medium, for example from an air/
liquid surface.
I
Capacitive level transducers will change their output voltage depending on the change
in overlap area of the capacitive plates, in the separation of the plates or in the dielec-
tric material (here, liquid) between the plates.
We will discuss the pressure transducer in greater detail and provide the system block
diagram for this form of level measurement.
Pressure gauge transducer
Figure 5.17 shows a tank containing a liquid of density . The pressure, p(t), at the
measurement transducer is dependent on the head of liquid, h(t), above the transducer.
Since the transducer is conveniently placed at the base of the tank, the head will directly
represent the level in the tank. The output of the electrical transducer is given by a
current in mA, h
m
(t), which represents the measurement of liquid head.
114 Modelling for control engineering
G
p
( ) s
H s ( ) Q
i
( ) s
Atmospheric
pressure
Pressure
transducer
Head of
pressure, ( ) h t
Tank
Figure 5.17 Gauge pressure transducer.
Transducer modelling
To model this transducer, we need to consider:
1. the relationship between the level in the tank and the pressure, and
2. the relationship between the pressure and the current signal
We can represent this measurement system by the block diagram of Figure 5.18.
The values, G
1
and G
2
represent the relationship between the signals of level and pres-
sure, or pressure and current, respectively. Since the component blocks are linear repre-
sentations, the total transducer block is given by G
m
, where G
m
= G
2
G
1
.
First Transducer block: G
1
(relationship between level and pressure)
Consider the physical law relating the input head of liquid to the output pressure:
pressure = density gravitational constant head
or, assuming the density remains constant,
p
p
(t) = gh(t)
where p
p
(t) is the pressure in pascals. For water, the value of is approximately 1000 kg/
m
3
. Hence, for a liquid level system with water as the liquid, the model required is:
p
p
(t) = 1000 9.81 h(t) = 9810 h(t)
The units of pressure are pascals; however, since 10
5
Pa 1 bar,
p(t) = 0.0981 h(t)
and the pressure p(t) is in bar. Hence the first transducer block can be represented by
Figure 5.19.
We can see that the value of G
1
has been given by G
1
= 0.0981. We can determine the
dimensional units of G
1
by considering the units of the input and output signals:
[ ]
[ ]
[
G
1
units of output signal
units of input signal
bar
m ]
[ ( )]
[ ( )]
p t
h t
Therefore G
1
= 0.0981 bar/m.
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 115
G
1
Pressure, bar Head or level, m
h t ( )
G
2
Current, mA
p t ( ) h
m
( ) t
G
m
h t ( ) h
m
( ) t
Level, m Current, mA
Figure 5.18 Transducer block diagram.
0.0981
Pressure, bar Head or level, m
h t ( )
p t ( )
Figure 5.19 First Transducer block.
Second Transducer block: G
2
(relationship between pressure and current)
To calculate the value of G
2
we consider the range (span) of the input and output signals.
This is given by the technical specification for the pressure transducer (Table 5.2). The
technical specification provides some functional information on the type of signal and
ranges of signals, while the performance specification provides an indication for an
instrument engineer of the accuracy of the readings and any effects that temperature will
have on the output.
The functional specification confirms that the output signal range is 420 mA
(the industrial standard current range) and tells us that, for this transducer, we can
have a maximum input range of 1.3 bar (which would correspond to approximately
h(t) = p(t)/g = 13.3 min our example). However, the output span on the instrument can be
set to be between 1 and 1.3 bar. (The negative allows for systems which may require
readings below atmospheric pressure.) For a maximum head in our system of 3 m
(Table 5.1), we can set the lower and upper limits of the instrument to be:
lower limit: 0 bar 4 mA
upper limit: (1.3/13.3) 3 = 0.294 bar 20 mA
To calculate the value of gain, G
2
, we look at the table of input and output signals:
Control block inputs and outputs Physical variable Range Physical units
System input, u(t) = p(t) pressure 00.294 bar
System output, y(t) = h
m
(t) current 420 mA
The measurement gain, G
2
, is found by considering the ratio of the change in output
signal to the change in input signal:
G
y t
u t
i t
p t
2
20 4
0 294 0
544
( )
( )
( )
( ) .
.
mA
bar
mA
bar
116 Modelling for control engineering
Functional specification
Output signal 4 to 20 mA
Span limit (max) 130 kPa (1.3 bar)
Range limit 100 to 130 kPa (1 to 1.3 bar)
Performance specifications
Accuracy rating Spans greater than 10% of FS
0.1% of span
Temperature effect Zero shift: 0.5%
Total effect: 1%
Step response Time constant 0.2 s
Dead time 0.3 s
Table 5.2 Technical specification for pressure transducer.
The two component blocks of the transducer can be cascaded together, as shown in
Figure 5.20.
The equations for the transducer can be written as
h
m
(t) = G
2
p(t) p(t) = G
1
h(t)
Therefore
h
m
(t) = G
2
G
1
h(t) = 54.4 0.0981h(t)
h
m
(t) = G
m
h(t) = 5.34 h(t)
and G
m
= 5.34 with units of
[G
m
] =
[ ( )]
[ ( )]
h t
h t
m
= (mA)/m
Laplace transformation of measurement system
In Laplace transforms, the block diagram becomes:
The Laplace equations become:
Y(s) = G
m
U(s) with G
m
= 5.34 mA/m
5.4.3 ActuatorProcessTransducer: the Actuator block
The main actuators used in process systems are valves (to regulate flow) and pumps (to
inject materials). In this example, we shall look at a diaphragm valve which controls the
flow of liquid in to the tank in our liquid level system.
Figure 5.21 is a diagram of a process valve. The valve is inserted into the pipework such
that liquid flows through the body of the valve. The size of opening that the liquid flows
through is given by the position of the valve stem. This is controlled by changing the pres-
sure on one side of the diaphragm which causes a change in the position of the plug. The
pressure signal can be electrically actuated by means of a current-to-pressure transducer.
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 117
G
1
Level, m
p t ( )
h t ( )
Pressure, bar
G
2
Pressure, bar
h
m
( ) t p t ( )
Current, mA
0.0981
Pressure, bar Level, m
h t ( )
54.4
Current, mA
p t ( ) h
m
( ) t
5.34
h t ( ) h
m
( ) t
Level Current
Figure 5.20 Cascaded transducer block diagram.
G
m
Level Current
H s ( ) H
m
( ) s
G
m
U s ( ) Y s ( )
Symbolic representation
Actuator block diagram
The actuator can be represented by the cascaded block diagram of Figure 5.22.
The values G
3
, G
4
and G
5
represent the relationship between the signals of current,
pressure, valve stem position and flow, respectively.
First actuator block: G
3
(current-topressure converter)
A typical current-to-pressure specification may give the following information on the
range of input and output signals:
Control block inputs and outputs Physical variable Range Physical units
System input, u(t) = i
c
(t) current 420 mA
System output, y(t) = p
c
(t) pressure 06 bar
Hence the gain, G
3
, is given by:
G
3
=
p t
i t
c
c
( )
( )
6 0
20 4
= 0.375 mA/bar
Second actuator block: G
4
(relationship between pressure and valve stem position)
We can relate the pressure on the diaphragm to the valve stem position by equating the
forces on either side of the diaphragm:
pressure diaphragm area = spring stiffness constant change in stem position
p
c
(t)A
d
= K
s
x(t)
Hence
118 Modelling for control engineering
Fluid
Valve stem
Diaphragm
Pressure
Spring
Opening
Fluid
Figure 5.21 Process valve.
G
4
Pressure,
bar
Stem position,
mm
p
c
( ) t x t ( )
G
5
G
3
Flow,
m
3
/s
q
i
( ) t
Current,
mA
i
c
( ) t
Converter Valve stem Valve opening
Figure 5.22 Actuator block diagram.
x(t) =
A
K
d
s
p
c
(t)
Let the diameter of the diaphragm be 100 mm and the spring stiffness, K
s
, be 188 400
kg/m; then we can calculate G
4
as
G
4
=
( . ) 0 05
188400
2
= 4.17 10
8
m/N 4.17 mm/bar
Third actuator block: G
5
(relationship between valve stem position and flow)
The flow, f(t), that passes through a valve is given by:
f(t) = (t)C
v
p t ( )
where
(t) is the fractional opening of the valve
C
v
is the flow coefficient of the valve (a number that relates to the design
of the valve)
p is the pressure drop across the valve
is the density of the liquid
For a linear valve, the value of is the stem position, x(t), of the valve. If we assume in this
example that there is a constant pressure drop across the valve (which would mean that
the flow had negligible effect on the stem position of the valve), then the flow through the
valve is linearly related to the valve stem position. Hence the process valve model is
given by
q
i
(t) = G
5
x(t)
with the units of the gain, G
5
, as:
[G
5
] =
[ ]
[ ]
y
u
=
[ / ]
[ ]
m s
mm
3
For a valve that has a linear characteristic over its operating range, the value of the valve
gain becomes
G
5
= Rated flow/100% change in input
For example, for a rated flow of 200 m
3
/hr = 0.056 m
3
/s,
G
5
= 0.56 10
3
m
3
/s for 1% change in input signal
In our example, the stem position is not given in percentage change of input but in change
in mm. By knowing the full range of input (say 025 mm), we can determine the valve
gain for a change of 1 mm (= 4% of input range) in stem position:
G
5
= 0.56 10
3
m
3
/s for 1% change in input
= 2.24 10
3
m
3
/s for 1 mm (4%) change in input
= 0.00224 m
3
/s/mm
Total actuator block diagram
The full actuator block diagram given in Figure 5.22 can be reduced to Figure 5.23.
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 119
The equations for the actuator system can be written as:
q(t) = G
5
x(t) x(t) = G
4
p
c
(t) p
c
(t)= G
3
i
c
(t)
Therefore
q(t) = G
5
G
4
G
3
i
c
(t) = 0.0022 4.17 0.375 i
c
(t)= 0.0034 i
c
(t)
q(t) = G
v
i
c
(t)
and G
v
= 0.0034 with units of
[G
v
] =
[ ( )]
[ ( )]
q t
i t
c
= m
3
/s/mA
Laplace transformation of actuator system
In Laplace transforms, the block diagram becomes:
The Laplace equations become:
Y(s) = G
v
U(s) with G
v
= 0.0034 m
3
/s/mA
5.4.4 Complete ActuatorProcessTransducer block diagram
We can combine all our blocks to provide an overall model for the liquid level system
(Figure 5.24).
120 Modelling for control engineering
0.0034
I
c
(s) Q
i
(s)
Current Flow
G
v
U s ( ) Y s ( )
Symbolic representation
G
T
=
K
t s +1
In flow,
m
3
/s
Liquid level,
m
q
i
( ) t h t ( )
G
m G
v
Measured height,
mA
h
m
( ) t
Control input,
mA
u
c
( ) t
140
1758s +1
In flow,
m
3
/s
Liquid level,
m
Q
i
( ) s H s ( )
5.34 0.0034
Measured height,
mA
H
m
( ) s
Control input,
mA
U
c
( ) s
Figure 5.24 ActuatorProcessTransducer for liquid level system.
G
4
Pressure,
bar
Stem position,
mm
p
c
( ) t x t ( )
G
5
G
3
Flow,
m
3
/s
q
i
( ) t
Current,
mA
i
c
(t)
0.375 4.17 0.00224
G
v
Current
q t ( ) i
c
( ) t
Flow
Figure 5.23 Actuator block diagram.
5.4.5 Simulink representation of liquid level system
The liquid level system shown in Figure 5.24 can now be implemented in a Simulink
model (Figure 5.25). We use a first-order transfer function block to represent the first-
order differential equation which represents the tank level process. The actuator and
measurement blocks are, in this example, simple gain blocks which can be added to the
model. The Simulink model requires an input signal block; we have used a step change
signal for the input current, u
c
(t).
One of the advantages of using Simulink is that we can examine signals within the
model which are not actually measured in practice. In this study, we have written vari-
ables q(t), h(t) and h
m
(t) to the workspace in order that we can examine the signals. We
can inject a step change of 1 mA in the input signal and we can see (Figure 5.26) that the
change in level in the tank is 0.476 m. The process input signal actually lies in the range
5.4 Chemical process engineering: liquid level control 121
h
Level, m
u
c
Input signal, mA
q
Flow, m^3/s
140
1758s + 1
Tank
5.34
Measurement
gain
h
m
Measured
level, mA
Input signal
step change, mA
0.0034
Actuator
gain
Figure 5.25 Simulink representation of liquid level system.
0 1 2 3 4 5
0
0.05
0.1
0.15
0.2
0.25
0.3
0.35
0.4
0.45
0.5
Level, metres
Time, hours
Final change in value: 0.476 m
Figure 5.26 Response of liquid level to step change in input current of 1 mA.
420 mA. If we wished to monitor the actual level, we would need to add the offset to the
signal. However, it is very common in control systems to examine the change in system
behaviour from a steady operating condition. The reason for this is that we often assume
that the system behaves in a linear manner for small movements around its steady oper-
ating condition this allows us to use linear models and to use many analysis and control
design techniques which are suitable for linear systems.
If we monitor the measured output, given by h
m
(t) in mA (Figure 5.27), we see in this
example that the measured output signal has the same form of response as the actual
level since there is only a constant gain difference between the two. Once again, it is
important to note that the magnitude of the change in current is 2.54 mA maximum. This
is the change in current which would register a change of 0.476 m. The actual current
being measured lies in the range 420 mA, and therefore there would be an offset of 4 mA
to be added if we were to read the value from a real process.
5.5 Mechanical systems: model of a shaker table
Mechanical systems tend to be characterised by the movement (linear or rotational) of
solid components. This movement may result in position, velocity or acceleration
changes, or indeed in changes to the output force or torque on an object. In this example
we will examine a shaker table system which can be set to vibrate and then used to cali-
brate measurement instruments or to test the resilience of manufactured products.
A shaker table system
Consider that an object, for example a camera, is placed on a shaker table and an input
force applied through an electromagnetic coil (which has a current input). The effect of
this force is to cause a vertical displacement and acceleration, x(t) and
( ) x t , of the
122 Modelling for control engineering
0 1 2 3 4 5
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
Measured level, change in mA
Time, hours
Figure 5.27 Measured level, change in mA.