Capabilities of Multi-function Industrial Controllers

Industrial controllers and joysticks are tools widely used in applications across the world in varied environments. With today’s ever-expanding need for higher degrees of functionality and multi-tasking, it is important that operators have the equipment necessary to drive their application needs. Rugged and harsh working conditions can play a large factor in determining hardiness as well as the versatility of such controllers.

industrial environment with machines

Choosing a multi-function  industrial controller requires a fundamental understanding of the applications in which it is being used. More benign warehouse settings may not need the same robust builds that may be required for heavy logging or outdoor tasks. Likewise, the amount of control and functionality may be limited to simple joystick handle movement or, there may be a combination of controls needed for simultaneous use. Depending on the machinery or equipment being used, the operator may also have additional functions that can be added for complete comfort and/or customization.

Configuring Multi-function Industrial Controllers

industrial automation operator with joystick

Configuring a joystick controller can be somewhat involved as there are many factors to consider. The type of output signal, handle movement, switches or detents, pushbuttons and more all have options which can be selected to best suit the simplest or most complex of functions.

P3 America incorporates several  joystick features and options into consideration when designing and engineering multi-function controllers. The following factors and functions should be considered from both a design and specification standpoint as well as the operational and business standpoint.

  • Precision Potentiometer - Conductive potentiometers used by P3 America come in a variety of sizes and measuring angles. They deliver precise control with simple analog signals that can be used in most all types of applications and in a variety of environmental conditions. All of P3’s potentiometers are manufactured in accordance with ISO9001 certification standards to meet or exceed IEC 60393 and/or VRCI-P-100A standards.
  • Hall Effect Sensor – With ever increasing need for longevity and accuracy in multi-function industrial controllers, hall effects sensors can be a great alternative. Using non-contacting hall effect sensors, which look and act like a traditional potentiometer, life cycles can be greatly extended while possibly eliminating, or significantly reducing the amount of vibration that may influence the sensor output. Hall sensors use a magnet and Hall IC to provide analog outputs without the sliding wiper arm on a conductive track as done with a potentiometer, hence no physical wear.
  • Sealing - Industrial controllers must be specified to the correct seal above the panel. Depending on the environment in which the equipment is being operated in, it may be important to select components that have been IP65 rated as "dust tight" and protected against water projected from a nozzle. Likewise, there are various options in which special sealing considerations may be needed. For applications that may see unusual or particularly harmful substances, this comes as an added benefit to the end user looking for such specific solutions. Resistance to oil, maritime climate, ozone and UV radiation are a few examples.
  • Mounting Panel - While often overlooked, the sub-mounting panel is a critical element to ensure a multi-function industrial controller is stable and secure when operating. The sturdy construction ensures the joystick is mounted appropriately to the proper materials and position.
  • Switches & Pushbuttons – Switches are often used to help determine not only the direction of the joystick handle movement, but also allow the system to identify when the output signal should be ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’. Multiple switches can be used to determine multi-point activation as well. Pushbuttons can be placed in various locations to add to user comfort and have a wide range of possible functions such as on-screen selection, lift/lower or start/stop functions to name a few.
  • Detents - Detents provide operators with a distinct tactile feedback of a specific position. In case of configurations without spring return to center (position hold with increased operating friction), tactile sense of center position is missing. A center detent can be utilized to provide the operator with this positive feel.
  • Limiter Plates – Handle movement can be very important to the operator. In some applications, it is important to restrict movement of the multi-functional industrial controller to only 1 axis at a time. In others, we may want to limit the output signal when the handle is moved in 2 axes simultaneously. Whatever the case, knowing the scope to which the operator is actuating the handle can be critical and is most often overlooked.
  • 3rd and 4th axis – Traditional joysticks controllers will have 1 or 2 axis configurations. The benefit of multi-functional industrial controllers is that many can be configured with triple or even quad axis design. By using either miniature specialty thumb joysticks or individual rocker (see-saw) potentiometers, a 3rd or 4th axis function can be added to the controller handle for expanded versatility.
  • Thumb & Finger Joysticks - You can elect for smaller joysticks that provide greater precision and control over electromechanical movements. These can be particularly useful for vehicle applications, robotic operations, or medical instruments. Options include push-button handling and single, dual, or triple-axis.

These highly convertible multi-function industrial controllers and joysticks allow operators with the greatest possible control. If your company has invested in the capital for heavy-duty equipment, would you not want to take full advantage of the capabilities that the machine has to offer? P3 America specialists work with engineers to ensure that application engineering and product costs fit within your project’s budget.

Choosing Functionality that Suits Your Application

Multi-function industrial controllers that are designed with the machine operator’s safety and comfort in mind will bring efficiency to new levels. Because heavy-duty equipment is created with the latest technology and designed for constant use in different environments, why shouldn’t your  equipment’s components be designed to do the same? Heavy-duty controllers must be designed in alignment with the same mechanisms to maximize functionality and performance level.

Depending on your unique specifications, P3 America is able to customize components for added functionality. P3’s in-house specialists are able to design parts down to a single unit and still be able to guarantee precision movement reliably. Whether you’re looking to purchase multi-function industrial controllers for a new fleet of heavy-duty vehicles, or seeking a replacement part for an existing joystick, P3 America has the experience and product portfolio to deliver a broad set of functions.

Custom Engineering Your Own Multi-function Industrial Controller

Custom designs and engineering provide operators with greater control of the machinery and equipment they are running, thus reducing safety risks and increasing productivity. P3 America’s product portfolio represents  more than 60 years of manufacturing know-how so that your multi-function industrial controller and joysticks are built to your specifications. Our USA-based staff has significant experience in understanding the complexities of your requirements and work tirelessly to deliver the solutions you need.

In addition to developing custom solutions for industrial joysticks, our specialists offer a range of services from  applications engineering and rapid prototyping to OEM and distribution support. Let us speak with your engineering experts and project managers to configure a set of industrial-grade, high precision products that will operate over the lifespan of your machinery. For more information on the different types of multi-function industrial controllers and joysticks, visit our website.

Contact P3 America to speak with an applications engineer about the industrial components your project requires. We’ll help you find or build what you need.

Feb 10th 2020

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