With a little help from my friends I have come up with a list of process, mechanical, and piping design mistakes that have made our job as automation engineers more challenging and in some cases impossible. We learn the most by our mistakes.
Most process engineers were not taught how process and equipment design affect loop dynamics and performance. Many of the more demanding control applications are the result poor process dynamics. Automation engineers can help bridge the gap and be able to intelligently discuss how plant design is affecting plant performance.
Tuning has a profound effect on the practical limit to control loop performance. While the effect of execution time and filter time is often much less in comparison, these time settings can get the user into trouble depending on tuning and loop dynamics. Here is a perspective, overview, and recommendations.
The control valve and variable speed drive are the final control elements that directly affect the process by manipulating a flow. The expectation is that these elements do their job and do not adversely affect the tuning and performance of the loop.
A significant part of the challenge in understanding process control is the proper use of terms to describe the dynamics in a control loop. Communication can be greatly improved by focusing on three key terms and adding a few words to more aptly describe the source of the term.
Slow oscillations can be difficult to recognize especially when the period is beyond the typical time frame of the trend chart or there are intervening disturbances or recycle. Slow oscillations can be more detrimental to product quality because the large period means the amplitude is less attenuated by intervening volumes.
Fast oscillations are particularly insidious because the best thing a PID controller can do is ignore them. Action taken by PID controller can do more harm than good in terms of resonance, amplification, and perpetuation leading to increased process variability and premature valve failure.
Here is a new section on Model Predictive Control Best Practices for the next edition of the Guide to the Automation Book of Knowledge that is the primary resource for the ISA Certification of Automation Professionals (CAP) Program. The following includes text that may not fit into the page allocation for Chapter 13 on advanced control.
Here are the new sections on process modeling fundamentals for the next edition of the Guide to the Automation Book of Knowledge that is the primary resource for the ISA Certification of Automation Professionals (CAP) Program. The following includes text that may not fit into the page allocation for Chapter 12 on process...
A unified approach to tuning has been found that enables a common and simplified method for setting PID tuning parameters. Key features can be used to eliminate the need for retuning to deal with different dynamics and objectives.