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Development of nonlinear reconfigurable control of reconfigurable plants using the FPGA technology
As one of the biggest developing country in the world, South Africa is developing very fast resent years. The country’s industrialization process is rapidly evolved. The manufacturing industry as one of the most important sections of the industrialization is playing a very heavy role in South Africa’s economic growth. Big percentage of population is involved in the manufacturing industry. It is necessary to keep and enhance the competitiveness of the South Africa’s manufacturing industry in the world wide. But the manufacturing companies are facing with unpredictable market demands and global competitions. To overcome these challenges, the manufacturing companies need to produce new products which can cater to the market demand as soon as possible. Reconfigurable Manufacturing System (RMS) is one of the possible solutions for the manufacturing companies to produce the suitable product for the market in a short period of time with low cost and flexibility. That is because the RMS can be reconfigured easily according to the required specifications for manufacturing the appropriate product for the market and with above mentioned characteristics. Now, RMS is considered as one of the promising concepts for mass production. As one of the very latest research fields, many companies, universities and institutions have been involved to design and develop RMSs. South Africa as one of the most important manufacturing country in the world, her own universities and researchers has the obligation to study this field and follow the newest development steps. In this project, a lab-scaled reconfigurable plant and a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology based reconfigurable controller are used to realize and verify the concepts of the RMS in order to find the methodology of developing RMSs. The lab-scaled reconfigurable plant can be reconfigured into the inverted pendulum and the overhead crane. Although it is not used for manufacturing purpose, it can be used to verify the RMS concepts and the control strategies applied to it. Furthermore, control of the inverted pendulum and the overhead crane are both typical problems in the control field. It is meaningful to develop the controllers for them. As the reconfigurable plant is configured, the reconfigurable controller is reconfigured synchronously in order to produce the proper control signal for the reconfigured plant. In this project, both linear and nonlinear control strategies are deployed. Good results are received. The outcomes of the project are mainly for the education and fundamental research purposes, but the developed control strategies have significant sense towards the military missile guidance and the overhead crane operation in industry.