Control technology and Smart FactoryAn Interview with Lucas-Nülle Product Manager Ralf Linnertz about changes in training
Mr Linnertz, what role does control technology play for the Smart Factory?
“The Smart Factory signifies a further and significant increase in the use of sensor and actuator technology. These devices are controlled and regulated by PLCs and digital controllers. Using and optimizing the control algorithms behind this technology is complicated. Above all, there’s a lot of maths involved. That is why control technology can appear complex and difficult to grasp.”
What changes have you seen in technical education?
“The status of control technology has changed. It has been diminished by the expanded training content. Today, control technology does not have a module of its own; it is taught virtually in passing. But that does not make it any less demanding. You don’t have to be a prophet to see that this is problematic. Successful teaching requires fully developed methodology and didactics. And that is where our UniTrain control technology board comes in.”
Could you elaborate on that? What exactly does the UniTrain control technology board do?
“Our basic idea was to make the control technology topics more of a handson experience for trainees. The UniTrain board is based on realistic, clearly and comprehensibly designed controlled systems. They visualize how control technology affects everyday working life. By way of example, the trainee has a drive with an actual motor right in front of them. Now what will happen if I set the controller correctly or incorrectly? This helps to understand how control technology can optimize systems, thereby, among other things, improving production processes or conserving resources. Plus it helps teachers and instructors to make effective use of what little time they have left for control technology. In this way, the UniTrain system meets the special requirements of vocational training.”
Lucas-Nuelle’s control technology training systems are also aimed at colleges and universities. What is the Lucas-Nülle approach here?
“Our training systems offer them a wealth of options for applied control technology. Enhancement by means of various applications permits use up to Major’s level. In contrast to the UniTrain system, the students use more complex setups demanding greater accuracy and precision. More importance is given to mathematics and the reproducibility of processes. In terms of content, the systems allow control design and opti mizati on based on classic and modern methods. To put it crudely, our applications get properly serious. This allows students to develop their own control structures and algorithms in Matlab Simulink®. These can then be transferred to the hardware via a special LN toolbox and checked and tested in real time on actual controlled systems. Even the most capable students won’t get bored.”
Ralf Linnertz - Product Manager