Embedded Tools Drive Better Loop Tuning

by , | Apr 1, 2022 | Control & Safety Systems, Operational Excellence

Todd Walden

Author and Blogger

Properly tuned loops are critical to efficient, effective plant performance. However, constant changes in the plant environment mean that proportional-integral-derivative (PID) tuning cannot be a set-and-forget procedure. This poses a problem for many modern plants, as few have the deep bench of experienced personnel they used to. When loops need tuning, that often means other critical tasks must be put on hold.

Today, however, there is a better way. As James Beall explains in his recent article in Control Engineering, plant personnel can use the PID tuning tools built into modern control system software to tune processes on demand, more easily adapt to process changes, and even automate the tuning process for better performance and quality. Plants harnessing these technologies, James explains,

“typically see significant benefits in throughput, energy costs, quality variation, and equipment availability.”

Proper loop tuning can lead to significant operational benefits.

Data on demand

The benefit of using integrated loop tuning tools in the control system software is that all the configuration data needed for efficient and effective tuning is already stored in the control system. Not only does this help ensure data is correct, but it also keeps data synchronized when changes are made to the process. James explains,

“Engineering units, tuning changes, loop tag numbers, process variable scale, and other PID options are automatically updated and reflected in embedded tuning tools when values change, reducing the number of personnel needed to maintain loops, and reducing or eliminating the risk of errors in data entry.”

Adapt to save time

Today’s processes are rarely ever set in stone. To meet changing needs, plants often must change up the process. However, changing production variables also means changing tuning parameters, which can leave teams hesitant to make changes that could bring significant performance increases.

James explains that adaptive tuning can bring significant value for environments where processes regularly change. In an adaptive tuning system, process learning tools run in the background 24×7, monitoring for process changes.

“When process dynamics change and deviate far enough from the existing model to cause a problem, adaptive tuning systems automatically alert plant personnel to let them know further tuning is required. Operators or engineers can then use the interface to update the tuning parameters based on the new process model.”

And these same integrated tools can bring even more value when teams have to tune multiple interactive loops. Adaptive control can automatically change PID tuning parameters based on state variables to maintain a desired loop response, with no manual intervention.

“The process is more stable, improving throughput and helping ensure consistent quality.”

Leveraging your control system

The most advanced control systems on the market, such as Emerson’s DeltaV™ distributed control system, contain all the tools needed to drive better PID tuning across the plant. The DeltaV DCS offers a wide variety of integrated tools to deliver more efficient, effective, and automated PID tuning while simultaneously freeing up the plant’s limited personnel for other essential tasks.

You can learn more about improved PID tuning using integrated control system technologies—and learn about real-world applications—by reading the article in its entirety. And while you’re here, why not comment below and share your tips and strategies for keeping loops properly tuned in your facility?

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.