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Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE

International Conference on Information and Automation

June 22 -25, 2009, Zhuhai/Macau, China

A Hybrid Control Method of Tension and Position for a Discontinuous Web

Transport System
JianKui Chen, ZhouPing Yin, YouLun Xiong, and JianZhou Quan

Abstract—Tension control and precise conveyance in nonuniform web. Thus, the tension control is extremely
web-handling machines are critical to ensure product quality. important for flexible web-conveyed system. Current trends
This paper is focused on actualizing a hybrid control method of in the development of electronics systems show that the
tension and position for a discontinuous web transport system. roll-to-roll processes of web system may be the choice as a
First, the simplified algebraic dynamical models of the
very economic production method and will most probably
unwind/rewind section and feed section are presented, which
plays an important role for the moving control of flexible web. play an important part in the future. Electronic elements, like
Second, the hybrid control method, the PID tension control, the sensors, flexible batteries, displays, labels, or ICs are etched
synchronous position control and the hybrid control, are or printed on the web. These new jobsites usually need the
introduced, respectively. Finally, based on the mathematical flexible web to be transported in a discontinuous way, which
model and control strategies, an experiment platform is brings new requirements for tension control and position
established. Several experiments have been performed to show
control because of frequent acceleration and deceleration to
the efficiency and feasibility of this hybrid control method for
discontinuous web transport system. the web transport system. This intermittent oscillation
requires more strict tension control to be implemented. The
Index Terms—PID tension control, synchronous position tension fluctuation may damage the elements’ electronic,
control, discontinuous web transport system, radio frequency magnetic or optical properties. The position precision in
identification (RFID). discontinuous web transport systems has been more and more
exigent in chip integrated industry.
I. INTRODUCTION Due to their difficulty and importance in industry, web

I N the manufacture of continuous webs such as paper

products, plastic films etc., it is significantly important to
control the tension and the speed in the web feeding. The web
tension control problems have drawn the attention of many
researchers. There are three essential tension control methods,
which are widely used in the web transport systems. One is
transport system typically consists of an unwind roller, draw the direct detection of tension with load cells. Another
rollers, leading section rollers, lateral guiding rollers, method is the indirect calculation of web tension from motor
processing section, and a rewind roller. The reference values torque and unwind/rewind radii. The third one uses the
of the tension must be maintained between the consecutive dancer roller as a measurement device. Based on theoretical
pairs of drive rolls. A tension control system of moving web analysis and experimental results, Ebler et al. [1] conclude
is inherently sensitive to external disturbances during that both dancer arm and load cell systems can be used for
operation, especially while the thickness of the web is less tension regulation. Many mathematical models of web
than 50 micrometers. A time-varying payload or torque of the transport system have been proposed to suit for different
driving motors can cause severe tension variation. A moving tension requirements. Most of them considered the effects of
web under insufficient tension cannot track properly and may the external disturbances or/and uncertainties, such as the
be wrinkled, while excess tension may result in web variable inertias, the lateral weave, friction and roller shape.
deformation or even a web break. At the same time, Sievers et al. [2] proposed a distributed parameter tension
unacceptable speed variation can also cause detrimental model of the lateral dynamic behavior of a moving web. Lee
variation in tension. et al. [3] used an on-line friction torque observer to
In practice, the tension control system may be subjected to compensate friction loss for a continuous web transport line.
many uncertainties, such as a periodic disturbance from the Chen et al. [4] applied a sliding mode control model to lessen
eccentricity of the driving pulley, a torque variation caused by the effects of system uncertainties. Shin et al. [5] introduced a
the torque ripple of the motor, or a time-varying radius of the mathematical model, based upon an adaptive eccentricity
unwinding/rewinding rollers, misalignment of rollers, and estimator, to reject the disturbance caused by unknown
shapes of rollers. PID control, feed-forward control, feedback
control, and decentralized control were solely or hybrid used
Manuscript received January 12, 2009. This work was supported by the
Natural Science Fund of China (NSFC) (Project No 50625516), the National
in web tension/speed control system. Reid et al. [6] proposed
Fundamental Research Program (973) (Project No. 2003CB716207) and the PID control with the fixed gains and variable gains in the web
863 program of China under Grant No. 2006AA04A110. tension system. For the variable-gain PID control, the
The authors are with the State Key Laboratory of Digital Manufacturing
controlled parameters are continuously adjusted based on the
Equipment and Technology, Huazhong University of Science and
Technology, Wuhan, 430074, P. R. China (e-mail: jiankuichen@ diameters of the unwind/rewind rollers. Wolfermann and

978-1-4244-3608-8/09/$25.00 © 2009 IEEE. 265

Schroder [7] used an output feedback method to control the rollers is just to retain the web velocity dynamics. The
speed of the driven rollers. An observer was designed to purpose of the two load cells is to detect the web tension’s
decouple the drives from the web tension acting on the driven varying. As shown in Fig.1, in order to analyze the system’s
rollers and used to improve the speed control of the driven dynamic characteristics, the process can be simplified and
rollers. This approach leads considerable improvement to divided into three sections: the unwind section, the feed
speed control of the driven rollers, but cannot avoid section and the rewind section.
disturbance between web spans. Pagilla et al. [8] designed a
decentralized controller using accurate dynamic model and
computing the equilibrium inputs and reference velocities.
However, the mentioned works pay little attention on the
study of position control and tension control in the
discontinuous web transport jobsite. Discontinuous convey
has more strict requirements for tension and position than Fig. 1. Sketch layout of a web transport system platform
continuous convey. Frequent start-stop causes biggish
It is difficult to derive a mathematical model for the
tension disturbance and web deformation in discontinuous
dynamics in a moving web system which includes all factors,
web process, which encumbers the tension stableness and
such as the friction, air entertainment, slip condition,
position precision. The application domain of discontinuous
circumferential environment, etc. In order to get the
web transport system is rapidly expanding because of the
mathematical dynamical velocity model of the web system, it
increasing stringent requirement arising from developments
is supposed that there is no slippage between the flexible web
in flexible electronic elements.
material and rollers, and the web deformation is ignored.
The primary goal of this paper is to propose and develop a
In the discontinuous web transport system, the feed process
hybrid control method to actualize stable tension control and
is periodically implemented. The web velocity will also be
precise position control at the same time in a discontinuous
changed periodically, as shown in Fig. 2. The parameters, ta,
web transport system. This system is designed for Radio
tc, td and tp are used to present the acceleration time, the
Frequency Identification (RFID) electronic-tag integrated
uniform time, the deceleration time and the pause time,
equipments. The anticounterfeiting features of RFID devices
respectively. In different motion time, the web transport
are leading users to switch from the conventional bar code to
system will have diverse dynamic performance.
wireless tags. Some inerratic circuitry patterns have been
printed or etched on the web, which requires that the flexible
web must be conveyed stably, accurately and intermittently.
In section , the mathematical model for the emblematical
web-fed structure in the experimental platform, such as the
unwind/rewind roller and the nip rollers, will be developed
firstly. Function relations of the variables, like tension,
velocity, will be presented. In section , the hybrid control
method will be described, including the PID tension control,
synchronized position control, feed-forward control, and so Fig. 2. Periodical change of web velocity
on. In section IV, some experiment results are proposed to
A cross-sectional view of the simplified web transport
illustrate the performance and feasibility of this hybrid
process is shown in Fig. 3. The associated variables for this
control scheme.
section are radius R0, velocity v and tension T. The n0 is the
gearing ratio of the reducer, which connects the motor shaft
with the unwind/rewind roller shaft. The 0 presents the rated
torque of the motor.
The web transport system considered in this work is
equipped with four AC servomotors, two automatic lateral
web guides and two load cells. Each of the four active rollers
is driven by a servomotor whose velocity or torque can be
controlled. Angular velocity of each motor is measured by an
encoder. The web process has more than 20 rollers over
which the web passes; four rollers are driven and the remains
are idlers with fixed inertia and radii. The unwind/rewind
rollers release/accumulate material to/from the processing Fig. 3. Cross-sectional view of the simplified transport sections
section of the web line. Thus, their radii and inertia are At any instant of time t, the effective inertia J0(t) of
time-varying. The master nip rollers are used to set and unwind/rewind section is given by:
maintain the web transport speed. The aim of the slave nip

J 0 t n 02 J m 0  J c 0  J Z 0 t . (1) oscillation, special control must be made to eliminate the
tension disturbance for the precise transport position. Using
where Jc0 is the inertia of the driven unwind/rewind roller, the proposed dynamic model, a suitable control strategy will
Jm0 is the inertia of all the rotating elements on the motor side, be spread out in the following section to achieve both the
including inertia of the motor armature, driving shafts of the steady tension and the position precision in the discontinuous
motor and the reducer, driving gears of the reducer, etc., and web-conveyed system.
J0(t) is the inertia of the rotating web material. Both Jc0 and
Jm0 are constants. But J0(t) is changing, which is given by:
J Z 0 t

W U R 04 t  r04 . (2)
In the discontinuous web transport process, the primary
aim of tension control is to ensure the web’s position
where W is the web width, p is the density of the web precision. All operations for the tension control and position
material. R0(t) is the changing radius of the roller. control are completed by the Turbo PMAC-PCI board, which
Synthesizing (1) and (2) gives: is provided by the Delta Tau Data Systems Inc. This card
makes it possible for users to compile individualized

. . programs to the card directly and modify the control structure.
J 0 R0 v v  2S W U R 04 v 0 R 0  T0 R 03 Special software programs for the web-fed are achieved to
0 0 (3)
 n 0W 0 R  f 0 R 0 v 0 .
2 modify the control system.
PID controller has a widespread field acceptance, which
has been effective and reliable in most situations when
Nip rollers are special thin-film-driven components in adequately tuned. In the dynamic control system of the
many devices which transport dielectric webs or other motors, decentralized PID control, is used to endow the
materials in the form of sheets. In the RFID tag packaging motors with excellent dynamical performances. In this
equipment, the space between the master nip rollers and the conveyance process, the PID tension control is used to keep
slave nip rollers is the work space. The two nip rollers are the system with stable tension.
endowed with the same tangential velocity to keep precision In modern manufacturing, multi-axis motion control
web-conveyed. Both the nip rollers will be analyzed as one theories are applied to minimize the tracking error. In
part. addition to precision motion control of individual motors to
According to the Newton’s law of motion and the law of track the desired motion trajectories, efficient
energy conservation, the relation between the nip roller synchronization among them is crucially important to
torque and the web tensions can be represented as: minimize the positional offsets between the axes. These
offsets can arise due to different drive and motor
J1  J 2 § . .
· 2 n1 r1 f characteristics, nonuniform load distribution and so on. The
¨ v1  v 2 ¸ T3  T1 rc  W 1  v1  v 2 . (4)
n1 rc © ¹ rc rc synchronized position control scheme, with the timely
position feedback from CCD vision systems, is adopted to the
Colligating (3) and (4), and simplifying the interim slave and master nip motors of the feed section to get the
parameters gives: invariance tension and feeding position precision.
In this discontinuous web transport system, the hybrid
J 0 . J1  J 2 § . control method is designed to achieve precise feeding
· J3 . n3 2n r
2 0 ¨ v1  v 2 ¸  2 v 3 W 3  12 1 W 1 position while maintaining satisfactory web tension. The
R0 n1 rc ©
¹ R3 R3 rc
structure of this hybrid control is integrated with: 1) PID
n0 J v  2S W U R 04 v 0 . J 0 v 3  2S W U R 34 v 3 . (5) tension control; 2) synchronous position control; 3)
 W0  0 0 R0  R3
R0 R 03 R 33 feed-forward control; 4) feedback control.
f0 f f
 v 0  21 v1  v 2  02 v 3 . A. Tension Control
R 02 rc R3 The block diagram of the proposed PID tension control
scheme is shown in Fig.4. Both the reference position and the
In this simplified multi-input multi-output drive model, (5) reference tension are input values in the unwind/rewind
illuminates the interaction between the constants and the section. In this method, the tension data are detected,
variables in the web transport system. It can be seen that the analyzed and disposed to control the tension, and the
unwind/rewind roller radii R0 and R3 directly correlated with feedback of the tension data from the load cell is used to
web tension, and the speeds v0, v1, v2 and v3 are the main modify the input value at the same time. The closed-loop
controlled variables. Considering the relationship between tension control sub-system is composed of the load cell, the
roll radii and tension difference due to the tangential velocity unwind/rewind motor and the PMAC. In the unwind and the

rewind sections, the position control can be looked as known quantity into parameters.
position feed-forward control. The feedback data is coming This control scheme assigns one motor as the master and
from the CCD vision system. Both the position feedback and the other as the slave. Although the command signal is
the changing encoder output are used to calculate a transmitted to the two motors at the same time, the slave also
compensation for the next step’s feeding distance. The tracks the motion of the master. It works just as if a single
dynamic model of the unwind/rewind section can be acquired motor were driving the web feeding. It can also be used
from (3) based on the rated parameters in the experiment. The during jogging and homing moves.
PID tension control in both the unwind section and the rewind The feeding position is modified by the CCD feedback,
section supply stable tension and stationary web length to the and the position compensations can be computed by (6) and
feeding section. (7) as follows,

Pm Pr  K 0 Pa . (6)
Pa K 1 Pc1  K 2 Pc 2 . (7)

where Pa is the actual position error, calculated from the

Fig. 4. Proposed double-loop PID tension control scheme two CCD vision feedback, Pc1and Pc2. K0, K1 and K2 will be
changed between 0 and 1, when the web material
B. Synchronized Position Control characteristics are changed. The selection of K1 and K2 can
The block diagram of the synchronized position control minish alternating affection of the two nip-roller system and
scheme, a combination of synchronized control, PID control, the web distortion’s affection to the position precise.
feedback control and feed-forward control, is shown in Fig.5. In the position synchronous controller, the feeding position
This scheme is used in the feeding section to keep the web of the slave motor, Ps, can be achieved by,
with condignly stable tension and accurate feeding position.
The feeding synchronization is required to implement Ps K 3 Pm  K 4 E m . (8)
between the master nip motor and the slave nip motor, which
where Em is established by the feedback of the master
motor encoder and the ratio of the nip rollers’ radius, K3 and
K4 are two adjusting parameters.

C. Hybrid Control of Tension and Position

The hybrid control structure for this discontinuous web

transport system is shown in Fig.6. In this system, it has three
Fig. 5. Synchronized position control scheme main input values, two reference tension value and the

ensure the set value of web feeding length. The synchronous

controller keeps the slave nip motor feeding the same web
length as the master motor, with same velocity. The actual
transport position error can be gained by the CCD vision
system, and two CCD vision systems are installed in the
experiment platform. This position error is used as a
compensation to modify the feeding position and velocity of
the master and slave nip motors. The web’s distortion caused
by the change of tension can also be detected by the two CCD
vision systems, which can be used to avoid oversize tension
fluctuation and web break. The feed-forward in the block
diagram may be settled by reference velocity/acceleration
gains provided by the Turbo PMAC2 controller, estimated by
the unwind/rewind dynamics. The velocity/acceleration
feed-forward acts to overcome the potential position errors
that would be proportional to velocity/acceleration. This Fig. 6. Hybrid control method of tension and position
synchronized position control system keeps the web moving
with a high precision. The dynamics’ expression of this reference position value. The two tension loops ensure the
feeding section can be got from (4), by the substitution of system has stable tension. The synchronous and hybrid

controllers insure the four motors have the same linear the torques. The web material used in the experiments is PET
velocity and the same web conveyance length in one feeding (Ploy-ethylene Terephthalate). PET is considered as one of
cycle. the best organic-web candidates for RFID applications, while
This method possesses several important and useful it features the industrial ability to be processed in a roll-roll
features. First, it incorporates two PID tension controllers to
stabilize the web tension. PID control is intended to provide
optimal command response and stability properties. Second,
synchronized position controller and uniform CCD vision
feedback control are designed to achieve precise web feeding
position. This feature is special since uncertainty disturbances
affect the position control performance, especially when the
frequent start-stop causes obvious tension fluctuation in the
web. Third, the hybrid control structure of tension and
position is to supply the discontinuous web transport system
with both tension control and position control in the same
web feeding process. Experimental results are duly presented
Fig. 7. The rear part of the experimental web process line
to illustrate the competitive advantages.
In the hybrid controllers, the feeding positions of the
unwind and rewind motors, Pu and Pw , can be represented
using (9) and (10) as follows:

n 0 rc (9)
Pu K5 Pm .
n1 R 0

n 3 rc (10)
Pw K6 Pm .
n1 R 3

Where K5 and K6 are correction factors, R0 and R3 are the

Fig. 8. The fore part of the experimental web process line
time-varying radius of the unwind and rewind rollers, which
can be established from the anterior encoder feedbacks. fashion. Needless to mention that PET is one of the lowest
All the four motors’ PID gains and feed-forward gains of cost materials used in the industry in terms of mass
velocity/acceleration/friction had been adjusted, by the production. Two web lateral guider systems are used to
PMAC software, to keep the motors regaining quick response TABLE I
and stability performance. The PID value will be continually WEB PROPERTIES
renewed in the conveying process by the control software. Parameters Values

Width 334 mm
Thickness 50 μm
Elastic modulus 400 kg/mm2
In order to verify the performance of the hybrid control
method, a large experimental web line has been built to mimic correct the lateral position error as the flexible web runs
most of the features of an industrial web transport system. through a process. The web properties are shown in Table I.
The web line is divided into two parts by the long workspace Extensive experiments were conducted with the proposed
span, as shown in Fig.7 and Fig.8. The fore part consists the hybrid control strategy. Experiment results for the following
unwind section, the lateral guider I, the load cells I and the cases are shown as follows.
slave nip feeding parts. The rear part contains the rewind Case 1): Reference velocity vmax=0.13m/s; the acceleration
section, the load cell II, the lateral guider II and the master nip time ta=250ms; the deceleration time td=250ms; the reference
feeding parts. Both the unwind roller and the rewind roller are tension tr1=28N.
cover by the flat tables in the figures. For conducting the Case 2): Reference velocity vmax=0.38m/s; the acceleration
experiments, the web is threaded through four driven rollers time ta=150ms; the deceleration time td=150ms; the reference
and many other idle rollers to facilitate transport of the web tension tr1=26N.
from the unwind to the rewind. The parameters’ values, selected in the experiments, are:
Four three-phase induction motors, with 750w capacity, K0 = 1; K1 = 0.6; K2 = 0.4; K3 = 0; K4 = 1; K5 = 1.02; K6 = 0.97.
are used to drive the unwind/rewind rollers and two nip Results of the experiments for case 1) are shown in Fig. 9
rollers. Each motor is equipped with one reducer to augment and Fig. 10. The tension data in Fig. 9 is captured in a

single-step feeding. The selected sampling interval is 0.005s. of tension and position for a discontinuous web transport

Fig. 9. Tension plot in low speed single-step feeding Fig. 11. Tension plot in high speed single-step feeding

Fig. 10. Position error plot in low speed feeding Fig. 12. Position error plot in high speed feeding
A record of more than 2000 samples was collected. It can be system adapted to RFID-tag integrated equipments. Not only
seen that the tension keeps benignly steady in an acceptable the precise synchronous position control and the PID tension
confined scope except in the time of ta and td. While starting control but also the feedback compensation control and
and stopping of the web conveying, the tension is changed feed-forward control are synthesized adopted in this system.
obviously and has some confusing oscillations. The The implementing results show that the system has high
acceleration of the web generates positive damping while tension stability and precise feeding position, which means
deceleration generates a negative or destabilizing damping. that the proposed hybrid control method is a successful case
Fig. 10 shows the position error results for case 1). The in the discontinuous web-conveyed jobsites. It is important to
sampling interval is 10s. The data are captured by the vision note that there exists biggish tension fluctuation in the
system in the discontinuous feeding process. Some special starting and stopping of feeding process, and that there is
marks have been printed on the web for the CCD’s graphics some uncertain steady error in the tension control. Future
disposal system. The graph data, jumping in limited domain, work will focus on solving these problems.
indicates that this web transport system works well on the
performance of the precise feeding. The well tuned tension
controllers keep the web being transported with little REFERENCES
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This paper outlined the design of a hybrid control method