The Control Talk Blog provides guidance from a user's viewpoint on the design of automation systems, equipment, and piping for process control improvement. Details are offered on the selection and installation of PID controllers, control valves, variable speed drives, and measurements to maximize loop performance. The blogs are often more intensive and extensive and less vendor specific than a white paper. The goal is an advancement of the profession by sharing conceptual principle based knowledge.
Greg McMillan is a retired Senior Fellow from Solutia/Monsanto and an ISA Fellow. At present, he contracts with Emerson DeltaV R&D via CDI Process & Industrial in Austin and consults for MYNAH Simulation Technologies in Saint Louis. Greg received the ISA Kermit Fischer Environmental Award for pH control in 1991, received the Control magazine Engineer of the Year Award for the Process Industry in 1994, was inducted into the Control magazine Process Automation Hall of Fame in 2001, was honored by InTech magazine in 2003 as one of the most influential innovators in automation, and received the ISA Life Achievement Award in 2010.
Michel Ruel, a frequent source on process control improvement in both my Control Talk Blogs and Columns, offers his concise list of the more memorable mistakes made with actuators, compressed air systems, transmitters, and variable-speed drives.
I have dug deep into my memory to add 21 more items to the 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.
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.