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More than a hundred years ago, Sperry Corporation invented automatic pilot control in airplanes. It was magical and scary at the same time. Nowadays, they can anticipate the exact arrival time, other planes nearby, and the weather forecast. It became unimaginable that our planes would fly without it. APC is the automatic pilot in plants. APC projects can maximize your performance and plant's profit. For decades, the chemical process industry has been working with it. It can benefit smaller plants considerably as well. However, proper PID tuning is the first step in an APC project. It is the foundation for your automatic plant pilot, learn in this blog why.
In the process industry, 99% of the APC (advanced process control) are MPC (model-based predictive control) systems. MPC controllers measure the interactions of all plant actuators and process parameters in the distillation column and predict, based on a model, what needs to be done over a time horizon. You can compare it to an operator with 20 years of experience that focuses 100% of his time on operating the plant and predicting the outcomes. With those years of experience, he can anticipate things that are about to happen.
The APC communicates with the plant via the setpoint of the PID loops. Even with APC PID controllers still there, in auto and fully functioning. The PID controller is responsible for the base layer control of the plant, the quick variations in the loop, and runs at 10 to 100 Hz. The MPC controls typically run every 30 seconds up to every 10 minutes and change the setpoints of the underlying PID controllers.
APC’s can deal with interactions between system variables. It’s able to handle constraints and change the strategy if needed. But your first step is PID tuning. Here are four key takeaways that you need to consider when starting an APC project:
Next to operator ease, APC reduces process variations, and you will be able to move to a better operating point. Optimal PID control is excellent in enhancing your operating point, but APC can do it even better. APC will contribute to move up to a higher profit because you can lavish even closer towards the limit. The APC keeps on improving and optimizing to eventually, your loop will not have variations, and it is almost a flat line.
So, without proper PID tuning, you cannot start with an APC project. But even in this preliminary project, you can see the significant benefits. Not only big chemical process industries can set up an APC project.
We are happy to advise you about how PID tuning and APC projects with the right tooling can help you accomplish optimized plant performance.