Flexible materials such as textiles, papers, polymers, and metals are transported on rollers during their processing. Maintaining web tension in the entire processing line under changing web speed is a key factor in achieving good final product quality. Many industrial applications use dancer position feedback to indirectly regulate tension. Although widely used in the industry, pendulum dancers (rotational motion of the dancer roller) have received very little attention in the literature compared to linear ones (translational motion). The lack of clearly identified controllers synthesis methods can thus be noticed, as industry typically uses hand-tuned decentralized PI controllers. An improved alternative based on H∞ methods is proposed in this paper to provide a systematic framework. The focus in this study is the unwind section of a processing line that contains a pendulum dancer (PD). The nonlinear and linear phenomenological models of the unwind section containing the PD are discussed first. The position controller based on dancer position feedback is synthesized using the standard H∞ approach with mixed sensitivity. Because of the high order of the controllers synthesized with this approach, techniques to generate reduced-order controllers are used to calculate a fixed-order controller resembling standard industrial practice. The performance of the proposed controllers is demonstrated by carrying out experiments on a large experimental web handling platform containing four driven rollers, many idle rollers, and a PD in the unwind section. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first published results of successful application of an H∞ controller to a real plant containing a PD.
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