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By Walt Boyes
Every year, the Process Automation Hall of Fame members select new inductees from among their peers. This year, the Hall of Fame voters have selected four giants of process to be inducted into the Class of 2010. They are Joseph S. Alford, John Gerry, Willy Wojsznis and Yutaka Wakasa. A fifth nominee, Les Driskell, declined his induction on the grounds of advanced age. Driskell is 93. Many of the members of the Hall of Fame are senior citizens, and one of the inductees, Vernon Trevathan, passed away in 2009.
We created the Process Automation Hall of Fame in 2001 to immortalize the contributions of the very best of our profession. It is our hope that by recognizing these people on whose shoulders we stand, some of their knowledge and experience will be preserved for younger process automation professionals. As Hall of Fame inductee F. Greg Shinskey said in 2008, "I think it is great to have you all thanking me for being your mentor. When I started this thing, there weren't any mentors." We need to preserve and extend the knowledge and experience of these men and women.
Due to the economic collapse, the Process Automation Hall of Fame induction ceremony was not held last year. So this year, we'll induct both the Class of 2009 and the Class of 2010 at the WBF North American Conference in Austin, Texas, on May 24, 2010.
Joseph S. Alford
ROTC, Computer Dating and a
Distinguished Automation Career
Joe Alford says, "When I interviewed at Eli Lilly & Co., the manager guiding the plant tour showed me the production fermentors making penicillin. The only automatic feedback control (pneumatic) at that time was for broth temperature. The way that operators and scientists could tell approximately how well the fermentation was proceeding was by looking through the tank sight glass and observing the color and texture of the foam layer on top of the broth. The manager indicated that the monitoring and control of fermentations was mostly manual and was about 90% art and 10% science. He challenged me to change some of the art to science. I ended up spending most of my automation career trying to do just that."
Alford served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, earned a B.S. in chemical enginering from Purdue and a M.S. and Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He is a member of the Purdue ROTC Hall of Fame (for contributions to the Naval Reserve) and is a Fellow of both ISA and AIChE. He and his wife, Marti, have been married for 41 years, and have three sons and four grandchildren. "We met at the first computer match dance held in the Midwest (in front of network regional TV cameras)," Alford recalls.
He spent 35 years at Lilly, including 10 years as head of the company's Advanced Process Technologies Group and several years as the company's chief QA computer systems auditor. While at Lilly, Alford helped establish the company as industry leader in the automation of bioprocesses such as the fermentations he first saw as a prospective new hire. He applied several advanced technologies to optimize fermentation productivity, and developed tools and techniques for bioprocess scale-up and environmental monitoring. He is known for his pioneering work in bioprocess automation, as well as mathematical modeling, alarm management and the use of on-line analysis in pharmaceutical processes. He's written several book chapters, published over 35 publications and co-authored Automation Applications in BioPharmaceuticals (2008).
Alford believes his important contributions include advances in on-line availability of information about microorganism activity and their bioreactor environment, and advancing the state of the art of bioprocess control, productivity, abnormal situation management and variability reduction. "This has been accomplished," he says, "using online analytical systems, virtual sensors and online artificial intelligence."
He adds, "Most commercial process control systems began with a focus on continuous processes and are still evolving to accommodate the nuances of batch processes. Those nuances are so significant that ISA88 is evolving further to help vendors and users configure, program and manage batch processes. And there's a new Technical Report being prepared by the ISA18 committee on Alarm Management that will adapt and apply the ISA18 standards to batch and discrete processes. So, clearly," he concludes, "the future of batch process control will bring greater compliance to existing and evolving applicable standards.
"The future," he adds, "will hopefully also see some needed enhancements in vendor-provided systems that monitor and control batch processes, including the ability to display graphs in relative time, not just calendar time; including batch lot numbers as a part of all data or alarm records; further development of model-predictive control theory for use in batch processes; greater customizability and configurability of embedded PLCs; improved alarm management functionality; and improved HMI guidance for operators in abnormal situations."
Loop Tuner Extraordinaire
John Gerry decided he wanted to have a career in "computer control of chemical processes" when he was an undergraduate in the 1970s. As an instrument tech for Eastman Kodak, an instrument engineer at Eli Lilly, a senior engineer for SC Johnson, and then a research and applications engineer for The Foxboro Company (now Invensys Operations Management), Gerry has done exactly that.
At Lilly, he supported fermentation and purification operations. At The Foxboro Company, he designed and started up pH control systems, and wrote control system design software for compressor anti-surge. He configured Foxboro Microspec, Videospec and SPEC-200 product lines. He researched self-tuning controllers, PID algorithms, digital filtering, and model-based controllers. At SC Johnson, he managed a control system project using a Fisher PRoVOX DCS and Allen Bradley PLCs for a polymer plant. He initiated automated start-up and shut-down for the plant, and configured the Fisher PRoVOX.
After leaving SC Johnson in 1986, he founded Expertune Inc. on the concept that it should be possible to easily and automatically tune not only individual instrument loops, but also the processes of the entire plant. "I think my most important contribution is making control loop optimization technology easily available to engineers. This has been one of my life goals for years," he says.
"In the future," Gerry says, "there will be more available tools to help engineers optimize, with the whole plant looking at the same, simple optimization tools."
The Advanced Algorithm Man
"My imagination in high school in the late 1950s was affected by the starting of the era of space flights and popular versions of cybernetics," advanced control pioneer Willy Wojsznis says. "This affected my selection of control engineering education. My professional career was rewarding in many respects, and over time I had no thoughts of changing, rather merging deeper into control, moving toward advanced control."
Born in Eastern Europe, and with degrees from Kiev Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine and the University of Wroclaw and Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, Wojsznis pioneered in designing computer control system hardware and software and computer applications in steel mills, pit coal mines and power plants.
The work resulted in eight European patents and 18 conference papers. He's developed and co-developed (often with fellow Process Automation Hall of Fame inductees Greg McMillan and Terry Blevins) innovative advanced control algorithms. These included an embedded LP optimizer, control loop auto-tuner, adaptive tuner, optimal model-predictive control algorithm, process model identifier, batch fault detection algorithm, a set of diagnostics and quality prediction tools, a fuzzy logic controller and an intelligent neural network toolkit. He has 30 U. S. patents, and a dozen pending patent applications.
Wojsznis also co-authored the bestselling book Advanced Control Unleashed, wrote one chapter in Béla Lipták's Instrument Engineer's Handbook, and produced many conference and journal papers.
Wojsznis' award-winning advanced control designs have been implemented in Emerson Process Management's DeltaV DCS system. "It was a great professional adventure, working on adaptive control, MPC, optimization, fuzzy logic and other advanced control projects, and I may rely on users' opinion in selecting my more important contribution." He continues, "They like, in particular, DeltaV Insight. This product gained common high acceptance and broad use. The design is based on adaptive process modeling and PID tuning algorithms developed with my major contribution."
What does Wojsznis see in the future? "The trend of integration of advanced control products into the control system which started 15 or so years ago will continue," he says. "Robustness and ease of use of advanced control will progress. Industrial processes will be designed jointly with complete advanced control strategy, using models developed from high-fidelity simulations. The process operation will take more advantage of advanced control from the early start-up." He concludes, "Activity on perfecting control strategies for batch control, fault diagnostics and quality prediction will intensify."
In the Class of 2009 was Renzo Dallimonte, who designed the first Honeywell TDC2000 DCS. At the exact same time in 1975, Yutaka Wakasa was one leader of the team at Yokogawa developing the Centum DCS. Wakasa is one of this year's inductees into the Process Automation Hall of Fame.
Some people seem to suddenly find themselves in the automation professions—but not Wakasa. "As I started my job to develop process control systems," he says, "I found my way into the automation profession quite naturally."
Wakasa is a senior consultant for Yokogawa Electric Corp. and a technical advisor for the Japan Electric Measuring Instrument Manufacturers Association (JEMIMA). He joined Yokogawa in 1965 as a development engineer to design the central processing unit (CPU) of the Yokogawa DDC system, the predecessor of the DCS. Wakasa was one of the leaders of the Centum project in 1975. "My most important contribution was establishing the system architecture of Centum, especially the fault-tolerant system architecture and the continuous enhancement of the system," he says.
In addition, as his career at Yokogawa flourished, Wakasa also was promoted to director of the Test and Measurement business, and then in 2000 to President of Yokogawa Denshikiki Co., Ltd.
Wakasa predicts that the next generation of DCS will be based on highly networked advanced technologies.
Like many of his peers, Wakasa is a renaissance man. His hobby is playing the violin, and in 1999, he organized the Yokogawa Symphony Orchestra, which gives an annual concert.
The Class of 2010 has some thoughts for young people entering the automation profession. Yutaka Wakasa believes that one should "make continuous effort to be a professional engineer of process automation. Global warming due to the increasing energy consumption has become a serious problem in the world," he continues, "and process automation should make a significant contribution to improve energy efficiency.
"To enjoy industrial automation profession," he says, "a person starting work needs to be patient, rely on teamwork, gaining as much as possible from seasoned professionals. With time, someone would see more beauty in this profession than it seemed to him or her at the start."
John Gerry advises, "You have to work hard at what you love to do, but keep in mind that there are parts of any job that are not fun and just have to be done."
Joe Alford adds, "Automation involves some really neat technologies, but that, by itself, will not sell project proposals. Learn to define, demonstrate and articulate the benefits of process automation, such as reducing process variability. This will sell projects to plant managers, who will invest in automation technologies if they are convinced that significant operating plant cost reductions will result."
All the inductees in the Class of 2010 of the Process Automation Hall of Fame have been "changing art to science."
Walt Boyes is Control's editor in chief.
Founded in 2001, the Process Automation Hall of Fame seeks to identify and recognize outstanding contributions to the field of Process Automation over a lifetime's body of work. The members of the Hall are: