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Armfield - Process Control Technology - PCT40 Multifunction Process Control Teaching System

This provides a cost-effective way of teaching a wide range of process control techniques, including temperature measurement and flow control. More sophisticated aspects of process control can be addressed by adding optional extras to the basic system. The PCT40 is computer controlled with optional manual control available using the PCT43 Electronic Control Console.

Available models

The PCT40 contains everything that is needed to perform a range of single-loop process control experiments in conjunction with a PC.


It includes a variable volume process tank, a hot water tank with electric heater and indirect heating/cooling coil, a hot water pump, two nondedicated pumps, three on/off solenoid valves and a proportioning valve. The instrumentation includes temperature sensors, two differential water pressure sensors, a mechanical level sensor (float switch) and an electronic level sensor (conductivity). The inlets and outlets of the various pumps, valves and tanks incorporate self-sealing quick-release fittings. This enables the configuration to be quickly changed, offering a wide variety of different loops.


The PCT40 includes a computer interface (USB), and all of the parameters can be controlled directly from the computer, (ie the pump speeds), the valve positions and the heater power. The computer also displays the readings from the various measurement sensors. The software supplied with the unit includes on/off, time proportioned and proportional/integral/derivative (PID) algorithms where all the parameters are easily accessed and adjusted by the user. This approach means that a separate electronic console is unnecessary for most applications.


The flexible nature of the system also enables a wide variety of different disturbances to be applied to the loops to permit the effectiveness of the control parameters to be compared. As all these disturbances are under software control, they can be repeated precisely during the optimisation process, thus enabling an excellent degree of fine-tuning to be implemented. A pressure regulating valve with filter is also included to isolate the equipment from fluctuations in the water supply pressure.


The type of loops achievable with the basic PCT40 include:

  • Tank water level by varying input flow
  • Water flow rate by varying pump speed
  • Temperature of water in a vessel by varying the heater power
  • Temperature of water heated indirectly by varying the flow rate

(All these loops are under software control)

The PCT41 extends the capability of the basic PCT40 by adding an additional process vessel, complete with a heating/cooling coil and a stirrer. The inputs and outputs incorporate quick release fittings, enabling the PCT41 to be added quickly and easily.

The PCT41 also includes a conductivity probe to enable cost-effective fluid property demonstrations to be performed.

The addition of the process vessel enables more complex process control problems to be addressed, including remote setpoint demonstrations. Again these all take place with the repeatability advantages that electronic and software control brings.

Additional loops that can be implemented with the PCT41 include:

Single loops in combination:

  • Conductivity control of reactor contents by varying flow rate of one component
  • Temperature control of reactor contents by varying heating fluid flow rate
  • Temperature control of heating fluid by varying heater power

Remote setpoint control:

  • Ratio control of two flows (Fig 1)
  • Cascade control of conductivity and flow (Fig 2)
  • Feedforward control of flow to flow
  • Feedforward control of flow combined with feedback control of conductivity (All these loops are under software control)

The PCT41 includes a conductivity probe as part of the basic supply. This conductivity probe can be used to demonstrate fluid property control systems without the maintenance problems, which can be experienced with pH probes. However, as pH control is probably the most common industrial application of this type of control system, users may wish to implement true pH control loops. This can easily be implemented by adding the PCT42 pH Sensor Accessory to the combined PCT40 + PCT41 systems.

The PCT 43 is an electronic control console that can be used to control the PCT40 (+PCT41/42) instead of a computer. It includes controls for the pumps, valves and heater, plus a display for the sensors. It incorporates a commercial PID controller, complete with RS232 interface. Using this console also enables the sensor data to be logged and displayed on a computer (using the PCT40 USB interface), but with the control functions being implemented in the PCT43 hardware, rather than the computer software.

Facilities include:

  • Use of a commercial PID controller
  • Simple interfacing to other PLC and/or PID controllers
  • Use of 4-20mA interfaces
  • Use of serial communications (RS232) in a control system
  • Simple SCADA demonstration (requires PC)


The PCT44 is a pneumatic control valve, plus associated components, for use with the PCT40/41 system. Retaining the flexible concept of the whole range, it can be plumbed into many of the flow control loops, and provides a good illustration of pneumatic valve technology.

Note: This accessory requires a compressed air supply

Key Features

  • A multi-function process control teaching system, capable of demonstrating level, flow, pressure and temperature control loops
  • Bench mounted and includes a built-in USB computer interface
  • Options include: reactor vessel with conductivity measurement, pH measurement, pneumatic control valve and electronic console

Includes the following process control demonstrations:

Process principles

  • Calibration of sensors (via PC software)
  • Inflow control
  • Outflow control
  • Direct heating
  • Indirect heating
  • Batch operation
  • Continuous operation
  • Effect of sensor lag (eg thermometer pocket)
  • Effect of system time constant (eg volume change)
  • Effect of dead time (eg holding tube)
  • Effect of mixing/stirring (requires PCT41)

Measured variables

  • Level – on/off switch (fixed hysteresis)
  • Level – differential on/off switch (adjustable hysteresis)
  • Level – proportional pressure sensor (slow system response)
  • Flow – proportional turbine sensor
  • Temperature – on/off switch (fixed hysteresis)
  • Temperature – proportional thermocouple sensors
  • Static pressure – proportional sensor (fast system response)
  • Differential pressure – proportional pressure (fast system response)
  • pH – proportional sensor (requires PCT41 and PCT42)

Controller types

  • Manual control
  • Effect of reverse/direct action
  • On/off output with hysteresis
  • Time proportioned output with adjustable P, I & D terms and cycle time
  • PID proportional output with adjustable P, I & D terms
  • Remote setpoint control (requires PCT41)
  • Ratio, cascade and feedforward with feedback loops (requires PCT41)

Controlled variables

  • On/off flow control via solenoid valves
  • Time-proportioned flow control via solenoid valves
  • Proportional flow control via pump speed
  • Proportional flow control via electrical proportioning valve
  • Proportional flow control via pneumatic proportioning valve (requires PCT44)
  • On/off heater power control via solid state relay
  • Time proportioned heater power control via solid state relay
  • Proportional heater power control via solid state relay
  • Biopharmaceutical and Biotechnology
  • Chemical
  • Cosmetics & Personal Care
  • Education & Academics
  • Food & Beverage
  • Oil & Gas
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Powders & Pigments / Coating
ArmfieldThe Armfield Industrial Division designs and manufactures research & development systems, primarily for the food, beverage, dairy, edible oil and pharmaceutical industries. Used by many of the world's leading corporations, Armfield systems enable researchers and product developers to replicate full-scale industrial manufacturing processes on a miniature-scale in the laboratory.
[Armfield, Process, Control, Technology, PCT, 40, Multifunction, Teaching, System]