As the core control system of a rolling mill, the hydraulic automatic gauge control (HAGC) system is key to ensuring a rolling process with high speed, high precision and high reliability. However, a HAGC system is typically a mechanical-electric-hydraulic coupling system with nonlinear characteristics. The vertical vibration of the load easily occurs during the working process, which seriously affects the stability of the system and the causes are difficult to determine. In this work, the theory and method of nonlinear dynamics were employed. The load vertical vibration model of the HAGC system was established. Then, the multi-scale method was utilized to solve the obtained model, and the singularity theory was further applied to derive the transition set. Moreover, the research object of this article focused on some nonlinear factors such as excitation force, elastic force and damping force. The effects of the above feature parameters on bifurcation behavior were emphatically explored. The bifurcation characteristic of the load vertical vibration of the HAGC system was revealed. The research results indicate that the bifurcation curves in each sub-region, divided by the transition set, possess their own topological structure. The changes of the feature parameters, such as the nonlinear stiffness coefficient, liquid column height, nonlinear damping coefficient, and external excitation have an influence on the vibration amplitude of the HAGC system. By reasonably adjusting the nonlinear stiffness coefficient to effectively avoid the resonance region, the stability of the system will be facilitated. Furthermore, this is conducive to the system’s stability as it properly controls the size of the liquid column height of the hydraulic cylinder. The appropriate nonlinear damping coefficient can decrease the unstable area, which is beneficial to the stability of the system. However, large external excitation is not conducive to the stability of the system.
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