18 May 2022

Guest lecture gives masters students insight into industrial automation

Masters students on the MSc Advanced Control and Systems Engineering experienced a guest lecture on industrial automation from Lewis Cox, Senior Control Systems Engineer at Inspec Solutions.

Photo of Lewis Cox, Senior Control Systems Engineer at Inspec Solutions

Masters students in the Department for Automatic Control and Systems Engineering had a guest lecture from Lewis Cox, Senior Control Systems Engineer at Inspec Solutions who gave real-life examples of how control systems are used in industry. 

Inspec Solutions based in Sheffield, specialises in integrated control systems and carries out bespoke engineering services such as the automation of new facilities/processes, upgrades to existing control systems and safety compliance in a wide range of industries including metal processing, manufacturing and the energy sector. 

Lewis gave some insightful examples of how Inspec Solutions have worked with clients such as a chemical processing facility to ensure that they meet Functional Safety standards by testing control systems to ensure they are valid, safe and reliable. 

The tests could include; checking what’s on site is accurate to the technical drawings, testing that software is carrying out its safety functions and that sensors and valves are also reliable and fit for purpose. Details were also presented of a typical fuel dispensing system (such as a storage tank delivering fuel to a train) and the different control systems in place to ensure fuel is dispensed and stored safely. 

As a Senior Control Systems Engineer, Lewis works with a variety of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) systems including Allen Bradley, Siemens, Schneider, and Mitsubishi along with Direct Control Systems (DCS) such as Delta V. His advice to students was to become confident and competent with one of the PLC manufacturers, then they will find the skill sets will be transferable to other manufacturers.

This lecture was for the Industrial Automation module (ACS6131) run by Dr Payam Soulatiantork in which students learn how to code programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and do real time control and monitoring (using Human Machine Interfaces) of the Bytronic kits located in the Robotics and Automation lab in Sir Henry Stephenson Building. 

From the lecture it was clear all the material covered in the module is very relevant to what industry does including the ladder logic programming which is one of the most commonly used languages for programming PLCs. 

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