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How Are FPGAs Used In Industrial Control Applications



Most people are aware that computers will use field-programmable gate arrays. Developed in the 80s, they were a leap in technology, allowing computers to become faster and smaller. Today, this technology is also used in a number of other applications in a multitude of different industries. In particular, they are used in industrial control applications and can be very versatile in their ability to control several different aspects of an industrial site. This article will address how these function, and what their applications are within industrial complexes worldwide.

How Are FPGAs Used In Industrial Control Applications

How Do FPGAs Work?

FPGAs are used to determine what decisions are made within a computer. They do this at a very basic level. The use blocks, specifically called Complex Logic Blocks, and once they are configured, they can perform many different functions. Software that is developed will utilize FPGAs in order to perform many tasks. It is also how you are able to access peripheral devices including components that give you access to the Internet and even your printer.

How Are FPGAs Programmed?

Although field-programmable gate arrays are very different from microprocessors, the way that they are programmed is very similar. Microprocessors will use what are called gates of logic and memory, whereas FPGAs will use the CLBs in order to perform certain functions. When looking at these computer components from above, you will see that they have a similar appearance. They are often rectangular, but when you count the number of gates that are used and consider the amount of RAM that is available, FPGAs are far more complex. They are so complex today that software needs to be used in order to program them for the multitude of functions that they are capable of performing.

Who Produces FPGAs?

FPGAs were initially the work of a company called Xilinx. They are still one of the leading companies that produces them. This multibillion-dollar company is up against another one by the name of Intel. Intel has created FPGAs under the name Altera. There are many similarities between the FPGAs that are made by each company. Both of them are programmed using synthesizing, routing, and loading programs. There are also debugging programs that are designed to keep them running smoothly. All of this is possible because of modern technology and advancements that have been made in the computer industry.

What Industries Use FPGAs?

It has been said that it is easier to count the number of industries that do not use field programmable gate arrays. There are quite a few. These industries include those that produce consumer electronics, broadcasting systems, and most automobiles today use them. The medical industry, and security industries also rely upon FPGAs available from to perform necessary functions. In the industrial sector, which could be with imaging, networking, or motor control devices, they also integrate field programmable gate arrays in order to function.

Industrial Control Applications Using FPGAs

In particular, there are many industrial companies that have started using computers to operate their systems. When you think of companies that are creating cement or concrete plants, or those that are controlling different types of fluid, all of this is possible because of FPGAs. In some cases, the most expensive and comprehensive field programmable gate arrays are necessary to control all of the systems that one particular site. Whether this is heavy machinery, or if this is a machine that performs a minor function, it is likely functional because of field programmable gate arrays that allow software programs to control everything that they do.

Specific Areas Where Industrial Control Applications Use FPGAs

When people discuss FPGAs in regard to industrial control applications, this usually references machines that are responsible for controlling the disbursement of liquids, fluids, dry solids, and even slurry mixtures. For example, if you go to a brewery, there are many industrial applications that are controlling the very comprehensive process of making beer. This is true for every industrial company that works with solids, liquids and gases.

Why Was FPGAs Integrated Into These Industries?

When many of these companies first got started, computers were not available. Everything was controlled manually by human beings. However, as technology advanced, and computers could be integrated with this type of equipment, it made it possible to increase production levels. Today, there are areas of industrial plants where software programs, working with FPGAs, virtually control everything. They are also designed to set off alerts if there are problems. Additionally, in areas where it would be dangerous for people to be present, computer systems will control those applications as well.

How Humans Can Interact With This Equipment

Despite the fact that most industrial plants use computers, there still has to be some human intervention. This is why you will see control panels on different types of equipment. That person needs to be able to program these machines so that they can properly function. For example, if you have an asphalt mixing plant, and it is computer controlled, you must specify how much of the bitumen, aggregate material, and fly ash that will be used. Once these parameters are set, the machine will go to work, but it does require human intervention to get things started.

How FPGAs Will Be Used In The Future In Industrial Settings

Many people talk about how assembly lines are becoming more computerized than ever before. There are many industries where thousands of workers have lost their jobs. As technology continues to advance, and FPGAs become more comprehensive, we could soon see the departure of many workers from the industrial sector. Although modern advancements can be beneficial, when it comes to industrial jobs that are more like an assembly line, these workers will eventually be replaced. There will always be individuals that will be needed to monitor the system to make sure it is functioning, but we will soon see a mass exodus from many sectors of the job market because of advancements in industrial control applications.

The advent of FPGAs in the world has made everything so different. Today, it is possible that many jobs that are in the industrial sector may be eliminated because of field-programmable gate arrays. Fortunately, there are still areas where human beings will still be needed to oversee the operations of these industrial businesses. In many cases, it’s all about profit margin, and computer systems have made it possible for the owners of these companies to benefit from modern technology.

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