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Process Automation Hall of Famer Willy Wojsznis and Advanced Control

by | Jun 15, 2010 | Services, Consulting & Training

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

At the recent WBF North American Conference here in Austin, Texas, Emerson’s Willy Wojsznis was honored by being inducted into ControlGlobal.com’s Process Automation Hall of Fame. He joins Terry Blevins and Greg McMillan from the Emerson team in receiving this honor. I know that when I walk by their offices that I can feel the heat from all the combined brainpower in action. They apply their knowledge to improve the capabilities of the DeltaV control system.

Willy began his career in process automation in Poland working in steel mills, pit coal mines, and power plants. He joined the Emerson team, then Fisher Controls, in 1991.

The ControlGlobal.com article, Leading Lights–The Process Automation Hall of Fame Adds Four New Luminaries noted:

He’s developed and co-developed (often with fellow Process Automation Hall of Fame inductees Greg McMillan and Terry Blevins) innovative advanced control algorithms. These included an embedded LP optimizer, control loop auto-tuner, adaptive tuner, optimal model-predictive control algorithm, process model identifier, batch fault detection algorithm, a set of diagnostics and quality prediction tools, a fuzzy logic controller and an intelligent neural network toolkit.

I caught up with Willy to ask him about his thoughts on what some of his inventions have done for process automation professionals. To date, he holds or jointly holds 28 patents, mostly in the area of advanced process control (APC). The algorithms highlighted in the quote above are used in the embedded DeltaV advanced control applications.

Willy described his work taking the auto-tuning algorithm and modifying it to be adaptive. Changes in the process, such as a process variable (PV) change of a certain percentage causes the autotuning algorithm to run and capture the process dynamics. It builds process models from the accumulation of these runs. The process models are used to calculate optimal tuning and remember the best tuning for different regions of operation. The process dynamics model building [DeltaV InSight] and closed-loop control [DeltaV Adapt] are associated with all of the PID [proportion-integral-derivative] control loops.

We also discussed model predictive control (MPC). MPC applications are typically found running in a workstation. The challenge was to be able to create simpler MPC controllers that could run directly in control system controllers instead of separate host workstation applications. Willy developed some highly efficient, algorithms that consumed only 5-10% of the computer resources required of the existing MPC algorithms.

By reducing the complexity of these MPC controllers and enabling the implementation of MPC as function blocks like PID and fuzzy logic blocks, it opened up MPC to smaller applications such as lime kiln control and difficult pH control. It also made the MPC technology more approachable to automation engineers since it didn’t require the host integration and separate user interfaces.

Willy laughed when I asked if it was a clash of egos to have three Process Automation Hall of Fame inductees working together. He said it was great luck and just great to work with Terry and Greg. Their expertise complements each other. Terry has a deep system-wide view and knowledge from his Foundation fieldbus work. Greg has vast process experience, which he’s been sharing with the world in his seminar/demo (deminar) series and ModelingAndControl.com blog. Willy has a deep understanding of applied mathematics, complex algorithms and methods of optimization.

If you’ve had a chance to use any of these advanced control applications, I hope that this has given a peek at the folks behind the technology.


Update: One of the folks I’ve known for a long time on the Emerson local business partner, Novaspect team, fills in a missing piece on Willy’s background:

You missed a little of Willy’s history. When he came to the U.S. from Poland, it was to move to Minneapolis and work for R.G. Read Company (now Novaspect). He subsequently moved from Minneapolis to Austin to work for Emerson. Here are a couple of photos of Willy participating in the Annual R.G. Read Triathlon.

Now that’s a great looking bunch!

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