Browse Definitions:
Definition

control system

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A control system is a set of mechanical or electronic devices that regulates other devices or systems by way of control loops. Typically, control systems are computerized.

Control systems are a central part of industry and of automation. The types of control loops that regulate these processes include industrial control systems (ICS) such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and distributed control systems (DCS).

Control systems are used to enhance production, efficiency and safety in many areas, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemical plants
  • Pulp and paper mills
  • Quality control
  • Boiler controls and power plant
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Environmental control
  • Water treatment plants
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Food and food processing
  • Metal and mines
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Sugar refining plants

There are two main types of control loops: Open loops, which operate with human input, and closed loops, which are fully autonomous. Some loops can be switched between closed and open modes. When open, a switchable loop is manually controlled and when closed it is fully automated.

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs), programmable automation controllers (PACs), remote terminal units (RTUs), control servers, intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and sensors are some of the elements of control loops that are in turn a part of control systems. The control loops that make up control systems are generally made themselves of a sensor, a controller and a final control element. The sensor reads the process variable or a related measurement. The controller receives the signal from the sensor and then forwards it to instrumentation, to remote terminal units and to final control elements where the process variable is adjusted, to be kept constant at what is known as a set point.

This was last updated in December 2017

Continue Reading About control system

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

  • cyberterrorism

    According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyberterrorism is any 'premeditated, politically motivated attack against ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close