Plant modeling: A first step to early verification of control systems

Overview:

Today's control system engineers face competing design demands — increase embedded system performance and functionality without sacrificing quality or breaking the budget. It is difficult to meet these challenges using traditional design and verification approaches.

Without simulation, it is impossible to verify a control design until late in the development process when hardware prototypes become available. This is not an insurmountable problem for simpler designs with predictable system behavior, because there are fewer sources of error in simpler control algorithms — and those errors can often be resolved by tuning the controller on the hardware prototype.

Today's multidomain designs combine mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, control and embedded software components. For these systems, it is no longer practical to delay verification until late in the development process. As system complexity grows, the potential for errors and suboptimal designs increase. These problems are easiest to address when they are identified early in the development process. When design problems are discovered late, they are often expensive to correct and require time-consuming hardware fixes. In some cases the hardware simply cannot be changed late in the development process, resulting in a product that fails to meet its original specifications.

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