Abstract: Proportional integral derivative (PID) control is widely practiced as the base layer controller in the industry due to its robustness and design simplicity. However, a supervisory control layer over the base layer, namely a model predictive controller (MPC), is becoming increasingly popular with the advent of computer process control. The use of a supervisory layer has led to different control structures. In this study, we perform an objective investigation of several commonly used control structures such as “Cascaded PI controller,” “DMC cascaded to PI” and “Direct DMC.” Performance of these control structures are compared on a pilot-scale continuous stirred tank heater (CSTH) system. We used dynamic matrix control (DMC) algorithm as a representative of MPC. In the DMC cascaded to PI structure, the ﬂow-loops are regulated by the PI controller. On top of that a DMC manipulates the set-points of the ﬂow-loops to control the temperature and the level of water in the tank. The “Direct DMC” structure, as its name suggests, uses DMC to manipulate the valves directly. Performance of all control structures were evaluated based on the integrated squared error (ISE) values. In this empirical study, the “Direct DMC” structure showed a promise to act as regulatory controller. The selection of control frequency is critical for this structure. The effect of control frequency on controller performance of the “Direct DMC” structure was also studied.
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