Process Control and Automation Systems

The Plasma Wind Tunnel Facility - Arc Heater and Test Chamber (left side) and LCU#1 (right side)
The LISA Plant (left side) and the OBDH by Techno System (right side)
INTEGRATED SYSTEM FOR ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE MAPPING SURVEY - IAM Module (left side) and a moment of test campaign

In the field of  Process Control and Automation Systems TSD developed a remarkable know-how with reference to all the different technological aspects, from sensor interface and signal aquisition to the control algorithms implementation, the power actuators driving and the Man-machine interface. Very demanding real time data handling requirements can be fulfilled with innovative multitasking/multiprocessor centralized or distributed  architectures.

The most important applications developed are:

  • Local Control Units for the Plasma Wind Tunnel Automation System (CIRA/LABEN)
  •  Monitoring and Control System for LISA (a plant for crash test on aircraft      developed for CIRA/Ferrari)
  •  Integrated System for Archeological Site Mapping Survey (MURST/CORISTA)
  •  Digital Controller for Steel Industry (Ansaldo)
  •  Control System of a continuous feeder plant (Alcatel)


The CIRA SCIROCCO Plasma Wind Tunnel (PWT) is a 70-MW plasma arc heated hypersonic wind tunnel capable of reproducing entry flow environments over large-scale TPS (Thermal Protection System) components, having dimensions of the order of 600 [mm]. Techno System has designed, manufactured and tested the Local Control Units (LCUs) for the PWT Automation System (final Customer CIRA prime contractor LABEN).  The main LCUs functions are:

    •  Acquisition and execution of commands from HLAS (High Level Automation System)
    •  Acquisition of data from field instrumentation and trasmission to HLAS
    •  Execution of closed loop regulation and control of the PWT subsystems
    •  Handling of safety and emergency shut down of the facility in case of failure 

The LCUs by Techno System are:

    •  LCU#1 – Arc Heater System, power supply, Air Flow Control, Argon Flow control
    •  LCU#2 – Test Chamber System
    •  LCU#4 – Vacuum System, Steam System
    •  LCU#5 - Test Leg Systems: Nozzle, Diffuser and Heat Exchanger
    •  LCU#6 – Cooling System
    •  LCU#7 – Electrical System

LCUs architecture consists of VMEbus system based on a MC68040 CPU Card and on PLC-5 VME from Allen Bradley. LCUs are connected to the process control network by means of RFM VME card. The VME System has the following electronic cards and peripheral devices: MC68040 based CPU card – RFM Card – PLC5 board – Watch Dog Timer unit  AB Local Panel – Redundand Power Supply.
Due to high processing performance required to control Arc Heater and Air and Argon flow loops, separate computational resource are required for these subsystems. So LCU#1 is based on three MC68040 CPU cards: communication SW runs onto CPU1A, process control SW onto CPU1B, field management SW runs onto CPU1C.


TSD has realized the Monitoring and Control System for “LISA” (a  plant  for crash test on aircraft developed for CIRA/Ferrari). LISA plant is dedicated to perform the following activities with aeronautical and space applications:

  • Numerical and experimental analysis, demonstrations, certification and qualification of aircraft related to catastrophic impact structural behaviour.
  • Analysis and experimentation of high-energy crash impacts on ground and water surfaces
  • Numerical and experimental analysis, demonstrations, certification and qualification of aircraft related to ditching or emergency landing conditions.
  • Research activities and support to aerospace industries during design and/or qualification/certification of structures subject to high-energy impact tests.
  • Support given to aeronautical certification agencies on crashworthiness issues.

 The Control and Monitoring System has a distributed architecture based on PLC for Local field device control and data acquisition  and on CPU for centralized control, data handling  and plant management
The Control and Monitoring System performs the following tasks:

Plant managment including:

  • Plant configuration
  • Plant actuators management
  • Plant status monitoring and control

 Crash test management including:
Pre-run phase
Plant actuator management
Field data management

Run phase
Monitoring and actuation of plant devices including model release
Data acquisition
Subsystem monitoring and control

Post-run phase
Data collection, analysis and presentation


The system is formed by three main subsystems:

  • Image Acquisition Module (IAM); attached to a suspended balloon  it includes a pointing camera, a high resolution camera and a module control unit responsible for payload configuration, image acquisition and data transmission to ground
  • Field Operation Equipment (FOE) represented by a Field Workstation, dedicated to command transmission and image acquisiiton and storage, a GPS and a Global Station for field reference
  • Data Elaboration Equipment (DEE) dedicated to Data Archiving & Processing