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Process Control


What is Process Control REALLY about? It mostly revolves around the term "process". Usually this means part or all of a process plant, but can be as simple as material movement. The purpose of controlling it is to maximise its performance, not to just to remove variability.

What is performance?

usually subject to some sensible constraints, e.g.:

How is it different to just "Control"?

So, Process Control is:

and is not:

Technique Selection

There are many, many process control techniques and it is important to be aware of (nearly) all of them so that the most appropriate technique can be selected for the specific task at hand. Beware the "hammer and nail" syndrome. However, apart from accumulating lots of experience, how does a process control engineer get the knowledge to select the right tools for the task at hand. Understanding the "library" of individual control techniques is one element, but usually the solution is a combination of techniques, so we also need to know which techniques to apply (together). Some guidelines can help get us started:

Open Source Tools for Process Control

Usually a tool like Matlab is used for numerical analysis, modelling and control calculations associated with process control. However, most of this type of work can be done very effectively with open-source software. This applies equally to other disciplines looking for Scientific and Engineering Worktools


One of the most popular languages available today is Python, having strong object-oriented and functional-programming features. In conjunction with a set of "toolboxes", Python can take on similar functionality to Matlab. The advantage of using Python as the base language is that when you have sorted out the algorithms, you can then go on to use other Python extensions to build a professional fully-fledged application with extras such as a backend database or GUI. In this respect, Python is a much better base than Matlab, and Python is unrivaled in its array of extension modules which do most of the work to minimise the programming required.

More details on the Python and the extensions allowing Matlab-like capabilities and much more can be found on the SciPy and friends page.



To Do

2015-05-14 10:33