The American Society for Precision Engineering is holding its sixth topical meeting on the design and control of precision mechatronic systems. The conference solicits papers in theory and applications of control with a focus on achieving high precision in research efforts and in industrial applications. The use of precision control is of particular current interest, given the increasing use of mechatronic solutions in many fields with very high performance requirements, especially in the context of the so-called fourth industrial revolution (aka Industry 4.0 or IIoT).
Mechatronic systems are critical to a wide range of advanced manufacturing and automation processes. The importance of precision mechatronic system control is only expected to rise with the strong push for smarter and more automated manufacturing processes, as well as systems driven by Industry 4.0. Mechatronic systems in the age of Industry 4.0 are more likely to integrate traditional technologies (i.e., mechanical elements, actuators, sensors, drives, and control algorithms) with emerging technologies like cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence towards achieving high performance. These degrees of freedom bring new opportunities and challenges for precision mechatronic system design and control, but often lack easily-specified requirements on dynamic performance. Many of the frequency-domain tools familiar to control system designers do not readily translate into the time-domain performance that defines system throughput, and quasi-static machine accuracy specifications are of limited usefulness in describing the motion of a lightweight, high-speed tool at a point somewhat distant from the feedback sensors. In addition, the multi-domain nature of mechatronic systems requires that designers be able to trade cost and complexity between the mechanical elements, actuators, sensors, drives, and algorithms that constitute a mechatronic system.