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Glossary for control systems

HMI – Human Machine Interface.

Typically a 4 – 10 inch color touch screen used as a central point for system input. HMIs reduce the need for multiple pushbuttons, indicators, and selector switches. HMIs are extremely versatile and completely customizable. HMIs relay information about a systems I/O, status, status of switches and sensors, as well as specific fault messages. HMIs reduce setup time, troubleshooting, maintenance, and down time.

VFD – Variable Frequency Drives.

VFDs or inverters are used to vary the speed of an electric AC or DC motor. VFDs can use single phase or three phase AC input voltage to drive three phase AC motors. VFDs are extremely beneficial in applications where synchronization, positioning, or variable speed is required. VFDs can be programmed to ramp up, accelerate, or ramp damp, decelerate, over a specific period of time.

PLC – Programmable Logic Controller.

PLCs are controllers that utilize microprocessors to make quick calculations and control peripheral devices. PLCs are often used to read analog inputs as well as encoder inputs. PLCs are flexible and easily allow for process changes as well as equipment upgrades.

MDS – Main Disconnect Switch.

MDSs are used to turn the facility service to a control panel on and off. MDSs can be locked out and tagged out to keep personnel safe while maintenance is being performed.

E-Stop – Emergency Stop.

E-Stops are typically an illuminated or non-illuminated pushbutton used to stop equipment in the case of an emergency. E-Stops are hardwired to disconnect power to an electric motor(s) as well as de-energize control relays.

Terminal Strip

Terminal strips consist of several individual terminal blocks aligned in a row. Terminal blocks pass wires from one point in a control panel to another point. Terminal blocks are extremely advantageous when wiring field installed devices such as encoders, motors, and switches. Terminal blocks allow wiring of these devices to be terminated at the terminal block as opposed to being terminated at a PLC, VFD, or motor contactor.

Panel Meter

Panel meters are used to display feedback from a number of input devices. Panel meters are digital displays that provide visual indication of a devices current position. Panel meters use input from potentiometers, linear sensors, encoders, or other analog devices. The signals are then scaled using the panel meter to display position in a meaningful value such as inches or percentage

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