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# The Basics of Process Control Diagrams

In: Blog 01 Jul 2014Tags: Basics, Block Diagram, Diagrams, I&C, Industrial, Instrumentation and
Controls, Process control, Process Control Diagrams, Skilled Trades, Training
Process Control Technicians are in high demand in industry. As automation continues to advance
our capabilities, it also increases the difficulty of maintaining the system. Understanding the complex
systems in automation begins with the basics, such as print reading.
A block diagram is a pictorial representation of the cause and effect relationship between the input
and output of a physical system. A block diagram provides a means to easily identify the functional
relationships among the various components of a control system.
The simplest form of a block diagram is the block and arrows diagram. It consists of a single block
with one input and one output (Figure 1A). The block normally contains the name of the element
(Figure 1B) or the symbol of a mathematical operation (Figure 1C) to be performed on the input to
obtain the desired output. Arrows identify the direction of information or signal flow.

## Figure 1 Block and Arrows

Although blocks are used to identify many types of mathematical operations, operations of addition
and subtraction are represented by a circle, called a summing point. As shown in Figure 2, a
summing point may have one or several inputs. Each input has its own appropriate plus or minus
sign. A summing point has only one output and is equal to the algebraic sum of the inputs.

## Figure 2 Summing Points

A takeoff point is used to allow a signal to be used by more than one block or summing point (Figure
3).

## Figure 3 Takeoff Point

Feedback Control System Block Diagram
Figure 4 shows basic elements of a feedback control system as represented by a block diagram. The
functional relationships between these elements are easily seen. An important factor to remember is
that the block diagram represents flowpaths of control signals, but does not represent flow of energy
through the system or process.

## Figure 4 Feedback Control System Block Diagram

Below are several terms associated with the closed-loop block diagram.
 The plant is the system or process through which a particular quantity or condition is controlled.
This is also called the controlled system.
 The control elements are components needed to generate the appropriate control signal applied
to the plant. These elements are also called the “controller.”
 The feedback elements are components needed to identify the functional relationship between the
feedback signal and the controlled output.
 The reference point is an external signal applied to the summing point of the control system to
cause the plant to produce a specified action. This signal represents the desired value of a
controlled variable and is also called the “setpoint.”
 The controlled output is the quantity or condition of the plant which is controlled. This signal
represents the controlled variable.
 The feedback signal is a function of the output signal. It is sent to the summing point and
algebraically added to the reference input signal to obtain the actuating signal.
 The actuating signal represents the control action of the control loop and is equal to the algebraic
sum of the reference input signal and feedback signal. This is also called the “error signal.”
 The manipulated variable is the variable of the process acted upon to maintain the plant output
(controlled variable) at the desired value.
 The disturbance is an undesirable input signal that upsets the value of the controlled output of the
plant.
Figure 5 shows a typical application of a block diagram to identify the operation of a temperature
control system for lubricating oil. Figure 5A shows a schematic diagram of the lube oil cooler and its
associated temperature control system.

Figure 5 Lube Oil Cooler Temperature Control System and Equivalent Block Diagram
The block diagram is to represent a control system in diagram form. In other words practical
representation of a control system is its block diagram. It is not always convenient to derive the entire
transfer function of a complex control system in a single function. It is easier and better to derive
transfer function of control element connected to the system, separately. The transfer function of
each element is then represented by a block and they are then connected together with the path of
signal flow. For simplifying a complex control system, block diagrams are used. Each element of the
control system is represented with a block and the block is the symbolic representation of transfer
function of that element. A complete control system can be represented with a required numbers of
interconnected blocks.
In the figure below, there are two elements with transfer function Gone(s) and Gtwo(s). Where, Gone(s)
is the transfer function of first element and Gtwo(s) is the transfer function of second element of the
system.
In addition to that, the diagram also shows there is a feedback path through which output signal C(s)
is fed back and compared with the input R(s) and the difference between input and output
is acting as actuating signal or error signal.

## In each block of diagram, the output and

input are related together by transfer function. Where, transfer function Where, C(s) is

## the output and R(s) is the input of that particular block. A

complex control system consists of several blocks. Each of them has its own transfer function. But
overall transfer function of the system is the ratio of transfer function of final output to transfer function
of initial input of the system. This overall transfer function of the system can be obtained by simplifying
the control system by combining this individual blocks, one by one.

Technique of combining of these blocks is referred as block diagram reduction technique. For
successful implementation of this technique, some rules for block diagram reduction to be followed.
Let us discuss these rules, one by one for reduction of block diagram of control system. If the transfer
function of input of control system is R(s) and corresponding output is C(s), and the overall transfer
function of the control system is G(s), then the control system can be represented as

## Take off Point of Block Diagram

When we need to apply one or same input to more than one blocks, we use take off point. A point is
where the input gets more than one paths to propagate. This to be noted that the input does not get
divided at a point, hence input propagates through all the paths connected to that point without
affecting its value. Hence, by take off point same input signals can be applied to more than one
systems or blocks. Representation of a common input signal to more than one blocks of control
system is done by a common point as shown in the figure below with point X.

When several systems or control blocks are connected in cascaded manner, the transfer function of
the entire system will be the product of transfer function of all individual blocks. Here it also to be
remembered that the output of any block will not be affected by the presence of other blocks in the

Now, from the diagram it is seen that, Where,
G(s) is the overall transfer function of cascaded control system.

## Summing Point of Block Diagram

Instead of applying single input signal to different blocks as in the previous case, there may be such
situation where different input signals are applied to same block. Here, resultant input signal is the
summation of all input signals applied. Summation of input signals is represented by a point called
summing point which is shown in the figure below by crossed circle. Here R(s), X(s) and Y(s) are the
input signals. It is necessary to indicate the fine specifying the input signal entering a summing point

## in the block diagram of control system.

Consecutive Summing Point
A summing point with more than two inputs can be divided into two or more consecutive summing
points, where alteration of the position of consecutive summing points does not affect the output of
the signal. In other words - if there are more than one summing points directly inter associated, and
then they can be easily interchanged from their position without affecting the final output of the

summing system.
Parallel Blocks
When same input signal is applied different blocks and the output from each of them are added in a
summing point for taking final output of the system then over all transfer function of the system will be
the algebraic sum of transfer function of all individual blocks.

## If Cone, Ctwo and Cthree are the outputs of the blocks

with transfer function Gone, Gtwo and Gthree, then

## Shifting of Take off Point

If same signal is applied to more than one system, then the signal is represented in the system by a
point called take off point. Principle of shifting of take off point is that, it may be shifted either side
of a block but final output of the branches connected to the take off point must be un-changed. The

## take off point can be shifted either sides of the block.

In the figure above the take off point is shifted from position A to B. The signal R(s) at take off point A
will become G(s)R(s) at point B. Hence another block of inverse of transfer function G(s) is to be put

## on that path to get R(s) again. Now let us examine the

situation when take off point is shifted before the block which was previously after the block.

## Here, we have to put

one block of transfer function G(s) on the path so that output again comes as C(s).

## Shifting of Summing Point

Let us examine the shifting of summing point from a position before a block to a position after a block.
There are two input signals R(s) and ± X(s) entering in a summing point at position A. The output of
the summing point is R(s) ± X(s). The resultant signal is the input of a control system block of transfer
function G(s) and the final output of the system is

## Hence, a summing point

can be redrawn with input signals R(s)G(s) and ± X(s)G(s)
In the above block diagrams of

## control system output can be rewritten as The

above equation can be represented by a block of transfer function G(s) and input R(s) ± X(s)/G(s)
again R(s)±X(s)/G(s) can be represented with a summing point of input signal R(s) and ± X(s)/G(s)
and finally it can be drawn as below.

## In a closed loop control system, a fraction of

output is fed-back and added to input of the system. If H (s) is the transfer function of feedback path,
then the transfer function of feedback signal will be B(s) = C(s)H(s). At summing point, the input
signal R(s) will be added to B(s) and produces actual input signal or error signal of the system and it
is denoted by E(s).
Basic Elements of Block Diagram
The basic elements of a block diagram are a block, the summing point and the take-off point. Let us
consider the block diagram of a closed loop control system as shown in the following figure to identify
these elements.

The above block diagram consists of two blocks having transfer functions G(s) and H(s). It is also
having one summing point and one take-off point. Arrows indicate the direction of the flow of signals.
Let us now discuss these elements one by one.

Block
The transfer function of a component is represented by a block. Block has single input and single
output.

The following figure shows a block having input X(s), output Y(s) and the transfer function G(s).
Transfer Function,G(s)=Y(s)X(s)G(s)=Y(s)X(s)
⇒Y(s)=G(s)X(s)⇒Y(s)=G(s)X(s)

Output of the block is obtained by multiplying transfer function of the block with input.

Summing Point
The summing point is represented with a circle having cross (X) inside it. It has two or more inputs
and single output. It produces the algebraic sum of the inputs. It also performs the summation or
subtraction or combination of summation and subtraction of the inputs based on the polarity of the
inputs. Let us see these three operations one by one.

The following figure shows the summing point with two inputs (A, B) and one output (Y). Here, the
inputs A and B have a positive sign. So, the summing point produces the output, Y as sum of A and
B.

i.e.,Y = A + B.

The following figure shows the summing point with two inputs (A, B) and one output (Y). Here, the
inputs A and B are having opposite signs, i.e., A is having positive sign and B is having negative sign.
So, the summing point produces the output Y as the difference of A and B.

Y = A + (-B) = A - B.

The following figure shows the summing point with three inputs (A, B, C) and one output (Y). Here,
the inputs A and B are having positive signs and C is having a negative sign. So, the summing point
produces the output Y as
Y = A + B + (−C) = A + B − C.

Take-off Point
The take-off point is a point from which the same input signal can be passed through more than one
branch. That means with the help of take-off point, we can apply the same input to one or more blocks,
summing points.

In the following figure, the take-off point is used to connect the same input, R(s) to two more blocks.

In the following figure, the take-off point is used to connect the output C(s), as one of the inputs to the
summing point.
Block Diagram Representation of Electrical Systems
In this section, let us represent an electrical system with a block diagram. Electrical systems contain
mainly three basic elements — resistor, inductor and capacitor.

Consider a series of RLC circuit as shown in the following figure. Where, V i(t) and Vo(t) are the input
and output voltages. Let i(t) be the current passing through the circuit. This circuit is in time domain.

By applying the Laplace transform to this circuit, will get the circuit in s-domain. The circuit is as shown
in the following figure.

## From the above circuit, we can write

I(s)=Vi(s)−Vo(s)R+sLI(s)=Vi(s)−Vo(s)R+sL

⇒I(s)={1R+sL}{Vi(s)−Vo(s)}⇒I(s)={1R+sL}{Vi(s)−Vo(s)} (Equation 1)
Vo(s)=(1sC)I(s)Vo(s)=(1sC)I(s) (Equation 2)
Let us now draw the block diagrams for these two equations individually. And then combine those
block diagrams properly in order to get the overall block diagram of series of RLC Circuit (s-domain).

Equation 1 can be implemented with a block having the transfer function, 1R+sL1R+sL. The input and
output of this block are {Vi(s)−Vo(s)}{Vi(s)−Vo(s)} and I(s)I(s). We require a summing point to
get {Vi(s)−Vo(s)}{Vi(s)−Vo(s)}. The block diagram of Equation 1 is shown in the following figure.

Equation 2 can be implemented with a block having transfer function, 1sC1sC. The input and output
of this block are I(s)I(s) and Vo(s)Vo(s). The block diagram of Equation 2 is shown in the following
figure.

The overall block diagram of the series of RLC Circuit (s-domain) is shown in the following figure.

Similarly, you can draw the block diagram of any electrical circuit or system just by following this
simple procedure.

 Convert the time domain electrical circuit into an s-domain electrical circuit by applying Laplace
transform.

 Write down the equations for the current passing through all series branch elements and voltage
across all shunt branches.

 Draw the block diagrams for all the above equations individually.
 Combine all these block diagrams properly in order to get the overall block diagram of the
electrical circuit (s-domain).
MANUEL S. ENVERG UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

CONTROL SYSTEM
RESEARCH FINALS

SUBMITTED TO:
ENGR. SHERWIN LAGRAMA

SUBMITTED BY:
MARIA INES M. RATIO