101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career

Tip #26: Document Your Code

One of the toughest jobs is to work on a program that involves thousands of lines of complex, undocumented code. Concept: Documenting software code does not take a great deal of effort, but most programmers are loath to do it. Despite how they may feel, insist that all code include at least a minimum of documentation. […]

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Fig. 1. Estimation of the effects of unmeasured disturbance.

A simplified predictive control algorithm for disturbance rejection

Abstract: Model predictive control (MPC) offers several advantages for control of chemical processes. However, the standard MPC may do a poor job in suppressing the effects of certain disturbances. This shortcoming is mainly due to the assumption that disturbances remain constant over the prediction horizon. In this paper, a simple disturbance predictor (SDP) is developed […]

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Oil tanker

Foundation Fieldbus Analysis for Floating Production Storage and Offloading Projects

Web Exclusive This article explores the advantages of using Foundation Fieldbus on a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) project by analyzing the results as if it had been implemented using Foundation Fieldbus. An FPSO receives hydrocarbons from offshore subsea fields, processes the produced fluids (with provisions for storing the oil in cargo tanks for […]

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101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career

Use tuned positioners on all control valves (tech tip)

I was encouraged to omit positioners in one of my first projects in the 1970s as lead instrument engineer. A former power system maintenance technician taking a new career path in instrument maintenance decided that positioners would add unnecessary complexity and aggravation. Fortunately, the request that valves not have positioners occurred after the project was […]

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Good Better Best Keys Represent Ratings And Improvement

What kind of MES do you need?

I often have people ask me questions like “Which MES should we use?” or “What kind of MES should we get?”  My short answer is always “What kind of MES do you need?”  And that’s always the best place to start.  What do you need?  What are your requirements?  What are the business needs? And […]

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Hydraulics

Getting real about pressure transmitter accuracy

Specifying the right pressure transmitter for replacement of non-working units to install in a plant-wide upgrade or for use in a start-up facility is critical. Seemingly small differences in accuracy and performance can have significant long-term effects.  Product quality can vary, and downtime for troubleshooting and repairs can increase.  Money, time and other equally precious […]

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control room

Top 10 Alarming Blunders

American comedian Sam Levenson once said, “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” When it comes to alarm management, Levenson is correct. Ineffective alarm systems pose a serious risk to safety, the environment, and plant profitability. Too often, alarm system effectiveness is unknowingly […]

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101 Tips for a Successful Automation Career

Tip #60: Write and Present Papers

In Monsanto Engineering Technology (ET), where I spent most of my career, I had the privilege of working with the world’s best in modeling and control. The ET director, the late Dr. Jim Fair (Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas) encouraged us to document our research and development and to advance the technology of […]

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