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Automation Glossary of terms

3D Laser Scanning System

Unique, ultra-precise system that perfectly captures 3D shapes in order to inspect and analyze real-world objects or environments, and to measure and collect data on…

Absolute Encoder

Maintains position information when power is removed from a system. Once power is restored the position of the encoder is available immediately…

Arc flash

A type of electrical explosion that results from a low-impedance connection to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.

Archaic system

Has the characteristics of a past language.


A robotic tagging system that eliminates the risk of losing track of billets in the manufacturing process. The automated system welds an identification tag…

Bleeding Edge

Refers to technology that is so new that it could have a high risk of being unreliable, and it may incur greater expense. See also leading edge and cutting edge.


Concept Systems originally designed BoardHound, which was to be used in the wood products industry to track measurable realtime data with speeds up to 3,000 fpm…


Created for the wood products industry, BoardMark offers staple-free barcode application on board ends. This revolutionary board-marking system is…

CANbus (Controller Area Network)

A vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other within a vehicle…

CNC (Computer Numerical Control)

CNC systems are used for any process that can be described as a series of movements and operations…

Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR)

The CMRR of a differential amplifier (or other device) is the rejection by the device of unwanted input signals common to both input leads…

Common Mode

Also referred to as common impedance, common mode is conducted noise that appears in phase, in the same direction, on two conductors.

Conducted Noise

Noise that appears in phase (in the same direction) or out of phase (in opposite directions) on two conductors.


Our ControlCore modular control rooms are perfect for managing large scale industrial projects that require managing the risks that can throw a project off track…


An open industrial network protocol for industrial automation applications.


A device that monitors and affects the operational conditions of a given dynamical system. The operational conditions are typically referred to as output variables of the system, which can be affected by adjusting certain input variables.


A system that provides discrete, drives, motion, process, and safety control together with communication and state-of-the-art I/O in a small, cost-competitive package.

ControlLogix 5000

ControlLogix 5000 is hardware created by Rockwell Automation.


Control System Integrators Association seeks to enable industries everywhere to have access to low-risk, safe and successful applications of automation technology.

Cutting Edge

Describes the newest, most advanced version of a product or service that has been proven to function reliably. See also leading edge and bleeding edge.

Data Highway

A network of computer networks, other devices and switching systems used for the transfer of digitized information.

DCS (Distributed Control System)

A control system for a manufacturing system, process or any kind of dynamic system, in which the controller elements are not central in location. More.


A network system used in the automation industry to interconnect control devices for data exchange. It uses Controller Area Network as the backbone technology…

Differential Mode

Conducted noise that appears out of phase (in opposite directions), on two conductors.

Distributed I/O

Eliminates expensive point-to-point wires by networking just a few, or thousands of process signals onto one digital communication link.

Electrical Design and Drafting

A part of top-tier system integrators’ service offerings, where electrical engineers, hand-in-hand with design services, provide custom electrical design and drafting…

Embedded Controller (EC)

A microcontroller in computers that handles various system tasks that the operating system does not handle.

Embedded I/O

A standard interface between an input device and machine actuators.


A family of computer networking technologies for local area networks (LANs). Systems communicating over Ethernet divide a stream of data into individual packets called frames. Each frame contains source and destination addresses and error-checking data so that damaged data can be detected and retransmitted.

Ethernet/IP (Ethernet Industrial Protocol)

An application layer protocol that considers all the devices on the network as a series of “objects.” Ethernet/IP makes seamless access to objects…

Ethernet I/O

A system in which analog and/or digital inputs and outputs are connected to a host computer via some type of Ethernet link…

Expansion Ports

Also referred to as a bus slot or expansion slot. An opening located inside a computer on the motherboard or riser board that allows additional boards to be connected to it.

Flex I/O

Offers the functionality of larger rack-based I/O without the space requirements.

Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

A solid-state joining process (the metal is not melted) that uses a third body tool to join two facing surfaces. Heat is generated between the tool and material…

Function Block (FB)

Code that contains input, output, through and internal variables, and an internal behavior description of the function block. Function blocks are used primarily to…


A cross-industry technology that provides a flexible and high-speed grade printing solution for many of Concept Systems’ customers. In the wood products industry GradeMarkPro…

Ground Plane

An electrically conductive surface, usually connected to electrical ground.

HMI (Human Machine Interface)

An interface that permits interaction between a human being and a machine. Human machine interfaces vary widely, from control panels for industry to the screen and input buttons…


Concept Systems provides state-of-the-art Headrig Carriage Control Systems designed for the wood products industry, but with the capability to be applied to applications in other industries…

High Speed Printing (HSP)

A printer which can function at a high rate, relative to the state of the art; 600 lines per minute is considered high speed. Concept Systems uses high speed printing for…

Hydraulic Motion

A technology that is being replaced by electro-mechanical motion systems but is still a relevant technology for certain applications. Concept Systems offers the expertise to determine…

I/O Relay

Input/output relay for interface applications such as programmable controller’s controls and microcomputers.

I/O Brick

A storage system that handles huge database loads with an incredible amount of I/O requests from virtual machines and virtual desktops.

Incremental Encoder

Encoders used in positioning and motor speed feedback applications. They are limited by only providing change information, so the encoder requires a reference device to calculate motion.

Induced Noise

Vibration induced phase noise that obscures an electrical signal.

ISA (International Society of Automation)

A nonprofit organization that helps members and automation professionals solve difficult technical problems, while enhancing their leadership and personal career capabilities…


Combining or coordinating separate elements so that constituent units function cooperatively and harmoniously.


A programming language that represents a program by a graphical diagram based on the circuit diagrams of relay logic hardware. It is primarily used to develop software for PLCs

Leading Edge

Something that is or represents the most advanced or innovative aspect of a field, activity, profession: the leading edge of technology. See also cutting edge and bleeding edge.


A wood products application designed by Concept Systems. It eliminates unnecessary waste with your bucksaws. By providing length-based solutions, accurate to +/- 1 inch, operators are able to…

Light Curtain

Opto-electronic devices that are used to safeguard personnel in the vicinity of moving machinery with the potential to cause harm such as (but not limited to) presses, winders and palletisers…

Machine Vision

The technology and methods used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis for such applications as automatic inspection, motion control and robot guidance.

Motion Control

A sub-field of automation, in which the position or velocity of machines are controlled using some type of device such as a hydraulic pump, linear actuator or electric motor…

Main Automation Contractor

Reduced risk. Smoother startup. Shortened payback period. Our process results in a smoother, shorter startup and commissioning process. That leads to a quicker ramp-up to full production and profitability…

Manufacturing Intelligence

Applies to software used to bring a corporation’s manufacturing-related data together from many sources for the purposes of reporting, analysis, visual summaries and passing data between enterprise-level and plant-floor systems…

Mechanical Design and Fabrication

Used when a project encompasses customized controls and mechanical applications. Concept Systems partners with premiere mechanical engineering firms to deliver custom mechanical solutions that complement any control system…


Something that is constructed with standardized units or dimensions and has parts that can be connected or combined in different ways.

NEC (National Electrical Code)

A nationally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment. The NEC codifies the requirements for safe electrical installations into a single, standardized source…

Noise Rejection

Noise rejection is the hum or buzz that results when audio power amplifiers or similar devices create a good set of grounds or noise around the inputs that are not rejected properly.

Overdamped Response

The response that does not oscillate about the steady-state value but takes longer to reach than the critically damped case. See also underdamped response.


Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value (often a point of equilibrium) or between two or more different states.


Anything that is obsolete, no longer current, or behind the times.


From an electrical perspective, parallel refers to consisting or having component parts connect in parallel. From a computer perspective, parallel refers to the apparent or actual performance of more than one operation at a time, by the same or different devices.

P&ID (Piping and Instrumentation Diagram)

A diagram in the process industry that shows the piping of the process flow together with the installed equipment and instrumentation.

PC (Personal Computer)

Any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator.

PFD (Process Flow Diagram)

A diagram commonly used in engineering to indicate the general flow of plant processes and equipment. The PFD displays the relationship between major equipment of a plant facility and does not show minor details such as…

PID (Proportional Integral Derivative)

Calculates an “error” value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint. The controller attempts to minimize the error by adjusting the process control inputs.

PLC (Programmable Logic Controller)

A digital computer used for control of machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides or light fixtures. PLCs are used in many industries and machines. Unlike general-purpose computers, the PLC is designed for…

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury by blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals and infection, for job-related occupational safety and health purposes.

Process Control

An engineering discipline that deals with architectures, mechanisms and algorithms for maintaining the output of a specific process within a desired range…


A standard for field bus communication in automation technology.


A protocol is a special set of rules that enables communication between two computers or devices. The commonly used protocols are Transmission Control (TCP/IP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

Radiated Noise

Noise resulting from the radiation of another component, circuit, device, piece of equipment, system or object.


Designed to make grain more efficient to unload from railcars, RailHawk is capable of being applied to loading railcars across a variety of industries. The RailHawk system is engineered…

Remote I/O

A local area network designed to connect controllers to remote I/O chassis and a variety of intelligent devices such as operator interfaces and AC or DC drives.


Retrofit refers to the addition of new technology or features added to older systems.

RS232 (Recommended Standard 232)

The traditional name for a series of standards for serial binary single-ended data and control signals connecting between a DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) and a DCE (Data Circuit-terminating Equipment). It is commonly used in computer serial ports.


A technical standard that specifies electrical characteristics of a digital signaling circuit. Differential-mode signals can be sent at rates as high as 10 million bits per second…

RS485 Multidrop

A standard defining the electrical characteristics of drivers and receivers for use in balanced digital multipoint systems. Multiple receivers may be connected to such a network in a linear, multidrop configuration.

RSLogix 5000

RSLogix 5000 is a programming software created by Rockwell Automation.


A type of rotary electrical transformer used for measuring degrees of rotation. It is considered an analog device, and has a digital counterpart, the rotary (or pulse) encoder.


A flexible service that is responsive to changing patterns that are often technical or economic.


The cutting-edge manufacturing option for many applications, robotics offers an increasingly affordable automation solution that provides unmatched flexibility in a traditional, but highly configurable package…

Robotic Painting

Whether the desire is to paint dissimilar parts or increase throughput in small/large production runs, Concept Systems is the partner companies trust to gain a competitive advantage. As a Fanuc Robotic Paint Integrator, Concept Systems works with companies to enable the benefits of robotic painting…


Also known as ANSI/ISA-88. A standard addressing batch process control. S88 provides a consistent set of standards and terminology for batch control and defines…

Safety Services

Concept Systems has a team of safety experts ready to help meaning you can get on the road to safety compliance now…

Safety Category

A risk assessment of safety in electrical/circuit applications. There are five risk categories (B, 1, 2, 3, 4) that make up the Category Assessment Table. Circuits must be designed…

Safety Relay

Relays designed to provide a convenient and economical solution for incorporating control reliability into a safety circuit. Power to the machine primary control elements (MPCE) is…

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

A computer system for gathering and analyzing real time data. SCADA systems are used to monitor and control a plant or equipment in industry.


One by one. Serial data transfer refers to transmitting data one bit at a time.

Servo Controls

Servos are controlled by sending a pulse of variable width. The control wire is used to send this pulse. The parameters for this pulse are that it has a minimum pulse, a maximum…

Servo Motor

A rotary actuator that allows for precise control of angular position, velocity and acceleration. It consists of a suitable motor coupled to a sensor for position feedback…

Servo Systems

A control system that converts a small mechanical motion into one requiring much greater power; may include a negative feedback system.

Servo Valve

Valves that operate by transforming a changing analog or digital input signal into a smooth set of steps of movement in a hydraulic cylinder…

Shaft Encoder

An electro-mechanical device that converts the angular position or motion of a shaft or axle to an analog or digital code. The output of incremental encoders

Shielded Cable

An electrical cable of one or more insulated conductors enclosed by a common conductive layer.


The practice of reducing the electromagnetic field in a space by blocking the field with barriers made of conductive or magnetic materials.


A device that allows electrical current to pass around another point in the circuit.


The singularity hypothesis is that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity…

SIL (Safety Integrity Level)

A relative level of risk-reduction provided by a safety function, or to specify a target level of risk reduction. In simple terms, SIL is a measurement of performance…

SSI (Synchronous Serial Interface)

A widely used serial interface standard for industrial applications between a master controller and a sensor…


A system that is resistant to change of position or condition. See also unstable.

Stand Alone

Working offline. A system that does not necessarily require a network connection to function.


A precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes.

Thermal Block

A space or collection of spaces within a building having sufficiently similar space conditioning requirements so that those conditions could be maintained with a single thermal control device.


An electric power system that has at least three conductors carrying voltage waveforms that are 2/3 radians (120, 1/3 of a cycle) offset in time.


TÜV Rheinland provides inspection and assessment services for Facility Safety. Concept Systems has two FS Engineers (TÜV Rheinland) on staff! .

Underdamped Response

One that oscillates within a decaying envelope. The more underdamped the system, the more oscillations and the longer it takes to reach steady state…


A system that is not constant. See also stable.

Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL)

A global independent safety science company offering expertise across five key strategic businesses: Product Safety, Environment, Life & Health, University and Verification Services.

UL Panel Shop & Fab

Custom in-house electrical panel and fabrication services, usually associated with a System Integrators’ Electrical Design and Drafting services…

VFD (Variable Frequency Drive)

A system for controlling the rotational speed of an alternating current (AC) electric motor by controlling the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the motor…


An efficient, reliable feeding system for unloading difficult to handle goods. Concept Systems’ VisionFeed-3D offers automated line feeding, utilizing an innovative laser-guided…

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