Top Control changes sides

For at least 14 years, Michel Ruel of Top Control has been the training arm of Expertune. Yesterday, Matrikon and Top Control announced that Ruel and Top Control will now be doing the same thing, but as Matrikon's partner instead. So Ruel was a prominent speaker at the Matrikon Summit. There's going to be a huge shift, he said, in the way operators and control engineers work. The older experienced engineers and operators are retiring and the ones who are left both work differently and have way too much to do. "Imagine what happens when you tell one of these younger operators that he must stay for the weekend for an emergency shutdown. He says, 'Oh, no, I am going hiking with my buddies.'" Ruel repeated much of the information he presented in his talk yesterday, and that we covered in the eShow Daily that was email blasted this morning. His big point is that only 25% of control loops give acceptable performance in automatic control. "And these numbers are the same I was using in speeches like this ten years ago!" Loop tuning is, however, only part of the problem. The good news is, however, that just monitoring PV, SP, Mode and CO, we can model exactly what is going on with that loop. And then we can convince the operations people to push setpoints to the limit constraints. That is where the savings are! Imagine what would happen if we did that to all 3 million PID controllers in North America! Small gestures count. If you quantify the results, you can use each PID controller to build successes. Out of these small successes you can grow enormous value. The technology is there to do this. We need now to change the way we work. Engineers used to write reports by hand. Then secretaries with typewriters wrote the reports and the engineers could concentrate on solving problems. The secretaries all got fired, and now the engineers write their own reports in MS Word. It really changed the way people work. We have the same thing now with the technologies in automation. The same evolution went from strip chart recorders to DCS printers, then historians and networks, to continuous monitoring to maintenance and monitoring. We need a culture of change.

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