Exceptional Opportunities in Process Control – Adaptive Level Control

The tuning settings of many level loops aren’t in the ball park. The result is persistent oscillations that spread throughout the process.

Level loops frequently manipulate feed flows to process operations. Variability in these feed flows causes variability in the temperature and composition in equipment whose process loops end up chasing continual changes in feed. Often the level loop creates slow rolling oscillations due to the product of level controller gain and reset time being too small. The solution of increasing the controller gain is counter intuitive and is rarely done correctly since the range of controller gains for level loops is exceptionally large and changes with the density of the fluid and the cross sectional area of the vessel.

Level loops make a good educational lab experiment in process control. To see how a DeltaV Insight adaptive controller automatically identified the tuning and compensated for nonlinearities for level control of a conical tank checkout the article “Adaptive Level Control“. For more background on the dynamics and tuning of loops for integrating processes, see Appendix A referenced in this article and the September 2, 2009 entry on this website.