A recent ControlGlobal.com article, Advanced Process Control Ain’t Easy, concluded:
The optimal solution is elusive, but perhaps the most promising path is to start with the simplest APC possible, one that delivers an acceptable percentage of theoretical benefits, but without stultifying complexity. Users and vendors alike must keep in mind that implementing APC is just a start, as without proper maintenance any solution will soon lose its effectiveness. Even with complex APC technologies, simpler is often better.
Simplifying the application of advance control has been the mission of Terry Blevins and the DeltaV technologists over the years as they have embedded this APC capability at the control system’s controller level.
Terry along with Mark Nixon and Willy Wojsznis recently wrote Advanced Control Foundation – Tools, Techniques, and Applications. They wrote this book to help new engineers learn more about advanced control techniques. The book includes many examples that illustrate how much easier it is to apply advanced control techniques such as model predictive control (MPC) when they are embedded in the control system.
They created an Advanced Control Foundation web site that goes with the book, so that anyone may access using their web browser to see YouTube videos that show the solutions to the workshops included in the book.
From the recent Emerson Exchange conference in Anaheim, numerous process manufacturers have successfully applied advanced controls and presented their results to fellow process automation professionals. Some examples include MPC-Pro Manipulates Field-Based PID, DeltaV MPC – Small Project Yields Big Benefits!, APC Success in Liquefied Natural Gas Production!, and Using Advanced Process Control-DeltaV MPC–to Grinding Processes for a Copper Extraction Plant.
Different control systems and advanced process control software have differing levels of complexity. Terry believes that complexity can be reduced in the way the solution is architected—especially if the advance control functions are embedded in the controller along with the regulatory control functions. Maintenance is also simplified when the advanced control and regulatory control are together in the same operating and engineering environment.
For process manufacturers who use the DeltaV control system and want to apply APC into their control strategies, in addition to the Advanced Control Foundation book and website, Terry recommends a 4 ½-day DeltaV Advanced Control class. They will receive hands-on experience applying MPC, Neural Network for property estimation, On-Demand and Adaptive Control, and Fuzzy Logic Control.