The future is now - Process Control Is Open to Innovation...

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By Greg McMillan and Stan Weiner Greg McMillan and Stan Weiner bring their wits and more than 66 years of process control experience to bear on your questions, comments, and problems. Write to them at [email protected] . Stan: Process control has been very good to us. More than the money earned, there was a sense of pioneering advancements in the understanding and implementation of what works best. Greg: More than any other field, process control is open to innovation because there is no script or guide. Undergraduate programs in process control are rare or non-existent. Industrial short courses and books provide pieces of puzzles that are as diverse as the products in the process industry. When I worked on the initial development of the ISA Certification of Automation Professionals (CAP) program, I was surprised that there was no set of books—including my own—that would develop a new engineer into a proficient practitioner. The books from industry were not written for teaching. Numerical examples and test problems were"missing in action."University textbooks generally focus on the math needed for graduate degrees and research. Some textbooks have provided an overview of instrumentation, valves and control systems, but often the representation is dated and without guidance as to what a process control engineer really needs to know or do on the job. Stan: Our courses in chemical engineering and physics did little to help us to select, specify, configure, install, checkout, start up and maintain automation systems. In control theory classes, we had perfect measurements and valves, negligible dead time and state space controllers. When these courses did show instrumentation systems, the figures often had pneumatic signals, DP flow meters downstream of control valves, and actuators without positioners—all disasters.
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