Freely Available Educational Resource—Process Control Case Histories

by , | Apr 26, 2024 | Operational Excellence, People & Culture | 0 comments

Here is some excellent news for fans of free educational resources. Process Automation Hall-of-Fame member Greg McMillan had three books published by Momentum Press. The publication rights have been officially returned from Momentum Press to the author, Gregory K. McMillan, who has decided to make the book available for free to help advance knowledge and achievement in process control.

I am privileged to announce that we will be hosting PDFs of Greg McMillan’s complete books on the blog. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing about each book with a link to the work. There are many great book reader apps that can import PDFs.

Let’s start with one of Greg’s educational yet fun works, Process Control Case Histories. Here’s the back cover summary:

This book takes a fascinating and entertaining approach to capturing and extending plant and control room experiences. A combination of exciting case histories and humor is used to reveal what really matters for a successful implementation of process control improvements. The emphasis throughout is on the experience gained (often the hard way) during the checkout and commissioning of challenging applications. The “Facts of Life” concisely summarize the lessons learned.

The detailed humorous descriptions of problems encountered and innovative solutions are conceptualized to provide guidance for applications that appear different but share similar opportunities. This book is intended to go beyond what is offered in the literature in terms of theory to document what really matters for pressure, pH, temperature, and surge control, and the automated startup and shutdown of processes.

Greg shares why he incorporates humor in many of his writings in the preface.

I first recognized technical writing can be boring when I fell asleep proofreading one of my works, and I was only on the second page. I considered advertising my books as a sleep aid but was afraid of lawsuits from misuse. I envisioned some person reading my book while operating heavy equipment and suing me for an improper warning label. I then looked around my book shelf and realized I had bought a lot of technical books and subscribed to a lot of technical journals that I never read despite good intentions. I thought—what good was writing a technical piece no matter how note worthy, if it was rarely read? I had to change for my own sanity and the sanity of the readers.

The result was “pH Control: A Magical Mystery Tour” which was published after much soul searching (and perhaps some doubts) by InTech in September of 1984. It broke new ground in that it used some humor to create enough interest for people to get through the whole article and absorb what I thought were some important points based on actual startups. Since then, InTech has published eleven more such articles all based on personal field experience. This approach combining humor and actual experience was subsequently used in a series of ISA books coauthored by me and Stan Weiner and a “Control Talk” column that has been running monthly in Control magazine since 2002.

Here’s a list of the chapters in the book:

  1. pH Control: A Magical Mystery Tour
  2. Compressor Surge Control: Traveling in the Fast Lane
  3. Pressure Control: Without Deadtime, I Might Be Out of a Job
  4. Advanced Control Algorithms: Beware of False Prophecies
  5. Direct Temperature Rate Control Improves Reactor Yield
  6. pH Titration Curves—Trick or Treat?
  7. Wally and the Beave Automate Reactor Start-ups
  8. Wally and the Beave Return To Automate Another Reactor Start-up
  9. Can You Say “Process Interlocks?”
  10. The Survival of an Instrument Engineer
  11. Woody’s Performance Review—What’s Inline Next for pH Control?
  12. What If the Starship Extraprize Had a DCS?
  13. What If the Starship Rent-a-Ride Had an Expert System?
  14. Funny You Should Ask a Process Control Engineer

We hope you learn some lessons from these case histories to help you advance your career in the world of automation. And you can pick up the mantle to be as prolific as Greg in sharing your automation wisdom!

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