Book Review: Essentials of Modern Measurements and Final Elements in the Process Industry

book coverControl's ControlTalk author Gregory K. McMillan has put together a new book entitled "Essentials of Modern Measurements and Final Elements in the Process Industry." It is published by ISA Press and can be ordered from and from

The ordering information blurb says:

Advances in sensor technology and in digital positioner and variable speed drive algorithms, combined with smart features, offer a step change in the performance of modern measurement instruments and final elements. The installed accuracy of many smart instruments has increased by an order of magnitude. There has been a correspondingly dramatic reduction in the drift of transmitters and a similar improvement in the resolution of control valves.

This comprehensive resource aims to increase awareness of the opportunities afforded by modern measurement instruments and final elements, and to show how to get maximum benefit from the revolution in smart technologies. It builds an understanding of the fundamental aspects of measurements, measurement instruments, and final elements for applications in the process industry. The terminology and ideas presented provide a firm foundation for subsequent chapters that focus on what is needed for lowest life-cycle cost and best automation system performance. The last chapter provides a comprehensive exploration of the technology that supports the rapidly expanding opportunities of WirelessHART instrumentation.

No prior plant experience with industrial process instrumentation is required. For students and new employees, the chapters on fundamentals will improve productivity on the job and form a basis for further study. For the seasoned veteran, the book offers insights and serves as a guide through today’s myriad automation products and application details. It provides a picture of the state of the art for 95% of the field instrumentation and final elements used, or under consideration, in a modern process plant. The reader is encouraged to seek further information on particular types of measurement instruments and final elements, which is available from manufacturers via the Internet and in instrumentation handbooks and ISA publications.

And it does exactly that. Enlisting a horde of Emerson Process Management experts like Mike Boudreau,Mark Nixon, Trever Ball, Jim Cobb and the like, McMillan, who, though he is retired acts as a part-time consultant for Emerson in Austin, has put together a potentially excellent introductory textbook to field measurements and final control devices. It is consciously intended to be a textbook, with Learning Objectives and study guides in each section, and a well done index and table of contents.

From the basic concepts of control to pressure, flow, level, temperature, and wet chemistry analysis, the book fills a real need for a "Back to Basics" textbook. There's even an excellent chapter on wireless written by Emerson's WirelessHART guru Mark Nixon.

If there is anything wrong with the book, it is that it is an Emerson Process Management production almost completely. That's not necessarily bad, because McMillan has gathered a singularly powerful group of automation experts...who all happen to work for Emerson.

But readers, especially readers new to the profession of automation should be cautioned that there are well over 300 other automation companies, and some of them do things differently-- not necessarily better or worse-- just differently.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5, easy.