The Art of Control System Design
© Doug Johnson, WRD, 11/20/02
The problem is... no two applications should have
the exact same control system. Industries, machines, and intended
users, are all different and one of the goals of the system designer
is to deal with the differences and provide results that are "intuitive".
Most control systems address these differences by using "off
the shelf" circuit boards and modules that can be configured
in different ways. What if the application really needs something
that isn't available off the shelf? What if your "vision"
and creative inspiration yields a solution that surpasses the current
state of the art, but there is no "module" that does what
Architecting a control system for an application is as much an art
as a science. Simple applications (i.e. temperature control) require
less artistic input, but multi-function applications have complex
interactions that must be managed by the control in a consistent,
easy to understand manner. This is where artistic vision can have
a huge impact and create the illusion of simplicity to something
that is inherently complex.
Unfortunately, artistry and engineering rarely come together. Think
again about the "off the shelf" control components that
are available and you'll see that they are all about "function"
and "technology". These are critical issues to be sure,
but the artist in me says that "how" the control is applied
and used, is more important. In other words, the "function"
and "technology" should be flexible, and subservient to
the "form" of the implementation.
This is one of the fundamental ways that
ProductMaker is different from other control systems. The "function"
and "technology" have been designed to be virtually invisible
to the designer, relieving him of the underlying complexity, yet
they remain flexible, allowing him to concentrate on the "form"
of the implementation. This is further augmented by the "development
platform" nature of ProductMaker
whose intended purpose facilitates "custom" packaging
thus allowing the designer to "free his mind" beyond the
constraints of "off the shelf" components, and allowing
artistry and creativity to take place.