PID tuning optimization, monitoring, and advanced process control are increasingly important today. Many plants do not use software and tools in these areas because the software is often too complex, expensive, not robust or not practical enough in the control room environment. Colleges continue to teach process control theory in the ancient Laplace, frequency domain or the complicated Z (discrete) domain- all not practical and not effective in the control room environment. Subsequently, few plants tune PID loops using modern effective methods. Even fewer plants monitor the control quality of PID loops in online or offline manner. Many PID loops are not optimally tuned. They may work “satisfactorily”, but with tuning optimization, the performance could be much better, but there is lack of awareness of the potential and the resulting benefits.
Another related area of high value and benefits to chemical plants is system identification. System identification involves identifying the dynamic response between manipulated variables and controlled variables. System identification using transfer functions is a practical and effective method. Unfortunately, almost all system identification- transfer function identification is done using the age-old ARMAX method – autoregressive moving average with exogenous inputs. ARMAX method is too complex for use in the control room by busy engineers and technicians. Subsequently, system identification (transfer function identification) skills and usage is poor in chemical plants. A few Ph.D. control engineers in core engineering or in research departments may use ARMAX but it is not widely used otherwise.
For successful and effective process control in industry, two areas are critical and essential – first is system identification and second is controller design and tuning. Accurate system identification is a prerequisite for good controller design. Due to the challenges and limitations on the practical success of system identification, dynamic models are rarely available and this precludes the mathematically scientific and precise design of the closed-loop controller. Often the age-old trial-and-error method of tuning or determination of other APC (advanced process control) parameters is used with little chance of correctness and good control quality performance. Guess work on PID controller loop tuning and APC parameters results in poor control quality, often oscillations or sluggish control followed by the control room operator turning off the advanced process control scheme or putting the PID control loop in manual mode. A plant then could run in this mode with many PID loops and APC schemes in manual/inactive state for years and even decades.
In recent times, many experienced process control engineers have retired. Many new, young and inexperienced process control engineers, DCS technicians, PLC technicians and control room operators have entered chemical plant control rooms. Lack of modern, effective and practical process control tools has resulted in many missed opportunities in maximizing plant performance and plant profits. Production rates are maximized effectively, waste and utility consumption are not minimized. Avoidable mistakes and plant shutdowns due to poor process control impacts plant performance metrics.
PiControl Solutions LLC is a global leader in the development and sales of modern software for PID tuning, system identification, APC (advanced process control) design/implementation and process control training for process control engineers, DCS/PLC technicians, operators and managers. PiControl has four key software tools that address the current needs of the industry and trains on deficits left by academic colleges. The process control software algorithms are new, novel and modern and work better than ARMAX method and better than currently known and used PID tuning methods. The same software used in control rooms for making PID control improvements and APC implementation can be used for training plant personnel. Furthermore, the same tools can be used in academic colleges for teaching semester based process control courses at both undergraduate and graduate process control curriculum and also for process control academic research.
The new PiControl software offers the following four main functions:
All PiControl software works entirely in the time domain with no complex or advanced math and can be learned and installed in just a few minutes to no more than a few hours. PiControl vision is to offer amazing new, novel and modern tools to help control room personnel and help bridge the gap between academic colleges and industry. PiControl also offers a wide variety of practical industrial process control courses covering PID tuning, system identification, advanced process control (APC), model predictive control (MPC), plant safety, cyber security, OPC (OLE for process control), industrial statistics, DCS and PLC. If you have any further questions, contact us online or give us a call at 832-495-6436.