In Person Only at the Boston Park Plaza

13 – Controls for Dummies

Dr. Steven J. Ludwick and Nicholas J. Duncan (Aerotech, Inc.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM (EST USA)

The objective of this tutorial is to discuss the application, benefits, and limitations of feedback control systems in the broader context of precision machine design. It is aimed mainly at specialists in adjacent areas who are looking to improve their working knowledge of controls, and attempts to answer questions that start with “why” more than those that start with “how.” We begin by discussing what feedback control is, why it is used, and what the alternatives are. This leads to a review of the block diagram representation of control systems, the differences between feedforward and feedback control, and definitions of the various terms used with respect to control systems. We then transition to showing physical realizations of the elements in the block diagram and address the interaction between mechanical design and the feedback control system. These are illustrated with frequency response plots that show why some systems are easier to control than others, and what design decisions  limit the speed of response of a control system. The final section of the course focuses on performance evaluation and the tradeoffs with stability margins. No prior knowledge of feedback control design is assumed, although a refresh on frequency response plots before the class would be recommended.

Dr. Stephen Ludwick develops precision automation systems as part of the Engineered Solutions team at Aerotech, Inc. He is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and currently serves as an Editor-in-Chief for Precision Engineering – Journal of the International Societies for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology. Steve holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering & Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nicholas Duncan is a Senior Mechatronic Engineer in the Mechatronic Research Group at Aerotech, Inc., a manufacturer of precision automation systems. He joined Aerotech in 2012 and is currently responsible for developing motion control systems and feedback control algorithms with an emphasis on the interaction between mechanical, electrical, and algorithmic components of a design. He is also focused on improving the tuning experience for customers and has played a pivotal role in the development and refinement of EasyTune™. Nicholas holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.