Beyond industrial kilns, ovens, and furnaces, electric temperature controllers are used in a wide variety of industrial processes and applications. Commonly referred to as ICS controllers, electric temperature controllers are used to monitor and regulate temperatures in manufacturing or storage processes where consistent outcomes rely on precise temperature control.
Unfamiliar with the acronym? Don’t worry! Below, we’ll be exploring industrial control systems (ICS) and the role and applications of ICS controllers.
What is an Industrial Control System?
Industrial control systems (ICS) refer to the equipment and software that are used to monitor, regulate, and control the behavior of machinery in automated industrial processes. An industrial control system provides physical or digital means through which humans can interface with machinery, providing inputs (or setpoints) to tell the machinery when and how to act.
Industrial processes that utilize industrial control systems include:
- Factory Automation
- Chemical Processing and Storage
- Heat and Cooling Systems
- Oil and Gas Processing
- Water and Sewage Treatment
- Food Processing
- Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals
Important ICS-Related Terminology
Before exploring the role of ICS controllers, there are a few terms that are important to understand:
- Localized Control System: In localized control systems, inputs are directly entered into each individual machine via a machine-mounted control panel. In a localized control system, machinery doesn’t communicate with each other, and there is no overall view or centralized process control.
- Centralized Control System: More sophisticated industrial control systems use sensors and electronic signals to consolidate control of all machines to a centralized control room.
- Distributed Control System (DSC): Distributed control systems are computerized control systems that use a series of sensors and automatic controllers distributed throughout a factory. In a DSC, controllers automatically regulate the behavior of individual machines but are also connected to a centralized network so that an operator can monitor and adjust the overall process. DSCs are more efficient, consistent, and cost effective than localized or centralized control systems.
- Process Variables (PVs): Process variables are the actual measured values of a particular part of an industrial process that is being controlled or measured. So, for example, when it comes to temperature control the process variable would be the current temperature of an industrial kiln or oven, as opposed to the desired temperature (or setpoint).
- Setpoints (SPs): A setpoint is the desired or target value for a process variable. In terms of temperature control, the setpoint would be the desired temperature of a kiln or oven according to its firing schedule.
- Final Control Elements (FCEs): Final control elements are the mechanical devices that physically change a process in response to setpoints within an industrial control system. These include elements, valves, and dampers.
- Control Loops: A control loop consists of the process sensor, controller, and final control elements – basically all of the components needed to adjust process variables to match desired setpoints.
- Human Machine Interface (HMI): A human machine interface is the user interface or dashboard from where an operator can control a machine, system, or device.
- Discrete Controllers: Discrete controllers consist of a single control loop to directly view and interface with a single machine.
- Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs): Programmable logic controllers are digital controllers that receive data through inputs (such as thermocouples) and uses the internal logic that’s been programmed into it to adjust outputs to matched desired setpoints. TAP Kiln Controllers are examples of programmable logic controllers.
- SCADA Systems: SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA systems consist of all hardware and software that are used to control, monitor, and gather data from industrial devices and processes – both remotely and on-site.
Understanding the Role of ICS Controllers
An ICS controller is a device where operators can input setpoints for an industrial control system. The ICS controller receives data from input sensors and adjusts outputs to the final control elements in order for the industrial control system to reach its desired setpoints.
ICS controllers play an important role in ensuring that industrial processes are executed effectively and consistently.
ICS Controllers for Temperature Control
While there are different types of ICS controllers for managing different process variables throughout an ICS, for the sake of this article we’ll be focusing on ICS controllers for temperature control. Many industrial systems rely on heating, cooling, or maintaining precise temperatures to alter or preserve the physical properties of material.
Industrial kilns, ovens, furnaces, and temperature-controlled drums, freezers, and storage units all rely on ICS kiln controllers to regulate temperature.
ICS controllers can be manual or automatic. Manual ICS controllers rely on constant user input through analog dials and switches to regulate power to final control elements. Automatic ICS controllers, on the other hand, are programmed to reach various setpoints over specific time periods and automatically adjust the final control elements to achieve the desired temperature.
Benefits and Features of TAP ICS Controllers
SDS Industries’ TAP Digital Controllers include a variety of features that make them ideal for industrial control systems, including:
- PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) control algorithms to ensure maximum accuracy between temperature input and output.
- The ability to create, store, edit and automatically execute an infinite number of firing profiles with an infinite number of steps.
- The ability to remotely monitor commercial kilns and edit and execute firing processes through the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App.
- Advanced diagnostics and preventative maintenance alerts to ensure peak performance for industrial thermal processes.
- High quality components for maximum precision and durability.
- Wi-Fi capability to seamlessly integrate TAP Controllers to a distributed control system.
Explore ICS Controllers by SDS Industries
The TAP and TAP II Controllers by SDS Industries are the most advanced, precise, and easy-to-use ICS controllers on the market today. With responsive touchscreen controls, an intuitive graphical UI, and integration with the TAP Kiln Control Mobile App, TAP Kiln Controllers can pair with any relay-controlled industrial kiln, oven, or furnace to allow you to easily manage control system setpoints.
We invite you to explore our selection of programmable ICS controllers, standalones, and conversion kits on our online store. You can also purchase TAP Digital Controllers or TAP Controlled Kilns and Heat Treat Ovens through one of the following distributors:
- Hot Shot Oven & Kiln
- Mobile Glassblowing Studios, LLC
- Jen-Ken Kilns
- Kiln Frog
- Sheffield Pottery
- Delphi Glass