Reduce power consumption and thermal events in industrial applications

Whether it is industrial control or other fields, the focus of any new design is how to make the system as efficient as possible. There are several benefits to improving system efficiency. First, after the efficiency is improved, the overall system power consumption budget will be reduced, thereby saving energy and reducing costs; secondly, without relying on the expensive thermal cooling system as before; finally, the power consumption pressure is reduced, so the system integration can be further improved. For many applications, this can be achieved through software, such as controlling critical events in the control system, planning process uptime and downtime, or shutting down non-critical components within the process. But for most process control applications that require continuous monitoring of process variables, the system simply cannot enter a power-saving mode. While some other applications are too complicated, making the system offline is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, for these applications, in order to save power, it is necessary to use efficient and intelligent integrated circuit devices to achieve power supply only where and when needed.

PLC overview

Figure 1 is a typical industrial control system. Industrial control systems can be used not only in industries such as machinery and factory control, but also in process control applications such as oil pressure, air pressure detection, and liquid flow rate. Based on the information received from the remote site, the system automatically or by the operator pushes the monitoring commands to the remote site control device, also commonly referred to as the field device. These field devices control local operations, such as opening and closing valves and circuit breakers, collecting data from sensor systems, and monitoring the local environment for alarm conditions. The PLC rack system shown here usually contains a power module, a processor module, and multiple analog I / O and digital I / O cards. Each analog or digital I / O card communicates with remote sensors and actuators. The form of communication may be digital or analog voltage and current.

Typical industrial control system

Figure 1 Typical PLC architecture

Carefully observe the analog I / O card, you can see that the input changes in a wide range, ranging from the small signal input from the sensor (such as RTD or thermocouple) to the analog current or voltage input (such as 4-20mA or ± 10V) . Most of the time, the voltage input has a fairly high input impedance. For current input, a detection resistor with a relatively small resistance is also terminated. Therefore, in terms of total system power consumption, the analog input card is often quite efficient, usually the total power consumption is only 1W ~ 2W. However, the analog output completely shows another trend. Both current and voltage outputs are effectively driven into unknown loads, so module designers need to ensure that the output is also protected under fault conditions, such as short circuit or wiring error events. Designers must protect the IC while ensuring that the module consumes the least power. According to the number of channels in the card, the power consumption is usually up to 10W.

The size of a typical I / O card that can be inserted into the slot of the PLC rack has been shrinking in the past 10 years. The 8-channel module currently in mass production is generally a 90 mm & TImes; 70 mm module with a height of about 23.5 mm. Industry trends will continue to shrink in size in the future, and this is actually market-driven demand. At the same time, the channel density or number also needs to be increased, which can not only improve the module function, but also increase the price competitiveness. Obviously, for such modules of a given size, power consumption is becoming the key, and the thermal cooling system using air convection technology is not only expensive, takes up space, but also not very energy-efficient. Therefore, there are other ways to solve the power consumption challenge.

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