Engineering consulting services for the design, analysis and testing of reciprocating

internal combustion engines and engine systems.

  • office: (858) 456-3511
  • fax: (858) 456-3512

Automation and Controls

The ubiquity of programmable logic controller (PLC) based automation systems has led to the proliferation of firms specializing in the design of machinery control systems based on this technology. While such firms usually offer a high level of proficiency with regard to the design and installation of these systems, they are often generalists, vastly more knowledgeable regarding the controls proper than the control requirements of the engine-system under control.

As a result, the controls and monitoring systems often trend large numbers of engine parameters that by themselves provide little useful information for engine performance monitoring or for use as a predictive maintenance tool. In addition, due to a lack of familiarity with such topics, the user interface designs often require the plant operator to adapt to how a software engineer understands his job function rather than how an expert in engine operations would envision his needs and thereby enable best possible control capabilities.

In the case of marine engine systems, a high degree of coordination is required between the main propulsion engines and the ships control system. Often complex, shipboard, intranet systems provide critical data to steering, propulsion, ride control and auto helm systems – which must all work together. Too often, the coordination of these systems is left to the equipment suppliers who are all too frequently unprepared for the multitude of communications protocols and media found in modern shipbuilding projects, which might involve systems from a dozen or more countries. The lines of responsibility become unclear and suppliers seek remedy through the change order process. By having a dedicated engine system expert on board, starting at the design phase, the client can ensure that from bid specification through owner’s trials that clear responsibility for system interconnection is established.

The Solution

By adding an expert in engine systems to the automation project design team, information and guidance with regard to control algorithms, useful data crosschecks and on-board diagnostic and prognostic capabilities can be developed by the automation specialist. In addition, the engine systems expert from Vronay can act as an intermediary to gather input from plant operations, maintenance, engineering support, etc. and ensure these wants and needs are implemented by the automation specialist.

Advanced Concepts

Based on developments in the automotive industry, Vronay engineers have become strong proponents for the use of model based control system design using simulation packages such as Simulink® from the MathWorks™, VisSim™ from Visual Solutions or MapleSim™ from the Maplesoft Corporation. By using these simulation and modeling software environments, we can model complex controls and the systems that they control as well as develop and optimize control algorithms prior to hardware development. Once an optimized model is completed, we utilize simulation programs interfaced with high-speed data acquisition systems to perform hardware in the loop (HIL) testing to prove concepts. We can generate optimized C-Code directly from the simulation environment – thereby placing the engine systems expert, rather than the software engineer, closer to the final control solution

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Contact us for solutions to your need for assistance with diesel, spark-ignited or dual-fuel engines. We have applied our expertise to engines ranging in size from less than 100 kW to more than 10,000 kW.