Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Instrumentation Engineering at a Glance

Instrumentation is defined as the art and science of measurement and control of process variables within a production, or manufacturing area.

An instrument is a device that measures and/or regulates physical quantity/process variables such as flow, temperature, level, or pressure. Instruments include many varied contrivances that can be as simple as valves and transmitters, and as complex as analyzers.

Instruments often comprise control systems of varied processes such as refineries, factories, and vehicles. The control of processes is one of the main branches of applied instrumentation. Instrumentation can also refer to handheld devices that measure some desired variable. Diverse handheld instrumentation is common in laboratories, but can be found in the household as well. For example, a smoke detector is a common instrument found in most western homes.

Output instrumentation includes devices such as solenoids, valves, regulators, circuit breakers, and relays. These devices control a desired output variable, and provide either remote or automated control capabilities. These are often referred to as final control elements when controlled remotely or by a control system.
Transmitters are devices that produce an output signal, often in the form of a 4–20 mA electrical current signal, although many other options using voltage, frequency, pressure, or ethernet are possible. This signal can be used for informational purposes, or it can be sent to a PLC, DCS, SCADA system, LabView or other type of computerized controller, where it can be interpreted into readable values and used to control other devices and processes in the system.

Control Instrumentation plays a significant role in both gathering information from the field and changing the field parameters, and as such are a key part of control loops.