Control Basics and Terminology

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of putting together a class on process control for a group of new software engineers. In most cases, the individuals had no experience in the process industry and no formal training on process control. I used this opportunity to distill into a two day class the key information that I thought these engineers would need to understand the basics of process control. The class material covers only the basic concepts and terminology that a control engineer should be familiar with in performing his job. The class was taped and turned into a DVD that is distributed internally within Emerson for self-study. I thought it might be helpful to post some of the slides from this basic class on process control since it covers and explains most of the terminology and control concepts you will encounter on this blog

In many of our posts, we assume that the reader is an experienced process or control engineer and is familiar with the technical terms used in the post. However, this may no be true for all the readers. Also, some of the terms such as controller gain may be used in different ways within our industry e.g. proportional band vs proportional gain. If you come across a term that is unfamiliar, then there is a good chance that you will find an explanation of the term in this material.

The class material is organized into the following areas of study:

Introduction Historic Perspective

Field Devices and Wiring

Documentation of Plant Control and Instrumentation

Characterizing the Process, Terminology

Control System Objectives

Manual and Feedback Control

Feedforward Control

Cascade Control

Override Control

Split Range Valve Position and Ratio Control

Test Over Class Material

Most of the material is independent of the control system design or manufacturer. However, the workshops were based on the student having access to a DeltaV control system. The control examples in workshop are based on the Foundation fieldbus function block set and thus should be familiar if you have been working with fieldbus systems. You may find it fun to look over the tests that go with this short course. If you aren’t certain about the correct answer to some of the questions, then you may find it helpful to look deeper into the class material.