What Options Exist for Tuning Emerson DeltaV Controllers?

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Tuning Technologies that Integrate with the DeltaV DCS and Handle Highly Variable ‘Everyday’ Process Conditions are Available

Emerson’s DeltaV distributed control system (DCS) dominates much of North America’s process manufacturing market and beyond.  For good reason engineers routinely rank it among the top supervisory control platforms globally.  And while DeltaV has proven its capabilities as a comprehensive DCS platform other technologies have extended its overall application value in industrial arenas ranging from basic materials and chemicals to power and paper.  It’s no surprise that some of those technologies come from innovative third parties.

Supervisory systems such as the DeltaV DCS assist manufacturers with managing a production facility’s underlying network of PID controllers.  That base layer of regulatory controllers can be extensive.  Most manufacturing facilities utilize 100s if not 1000s of PIDs to maintain safe and efficient production.  While the “everyday” dynamics of control loops are highly variable, most modeling and tuning products require steady-state operation both prior to and during the tuning process.  Even the tools supplied directly by Emerson struggle with challenging dynamics beyond typical process noise.  Fortunately there are options that integrate seamlessly with the Emerson DeltaV DCS and that account for the oscillatory, noisy nature of “everyday” process dynamics.

Here are some things to consider when purchasing a PID controller tuning solution to compliment your Emerson DCS:

  • Importance of Integration:

The ability to integrate third party products with your Emerson DCS is essential.  Whether through use of an API or other common communication protocol such as OPC, integration assures that data exchanges and analysis are accurate.  When it comes to PID controller tuning, integration with DeltaV assures that pertinent details of the controller and the control loop are factored.  Those details include the current tuning parameters, spans and algorithm as well as the Controller Output, Process Variable, and Set Point.

  • Steady-State Constraints:

Tuning PIDs – whether manually or with the aid of software – involves a bump or other test to reveal a loop’s dynamic process behavior.  Historically those tests required data that started and ended at a steady-state in order to generate an accurate process model.  Ironically, tuning is generally unnecessary when loops can be operated at such a steady-state.  Fortunately innovations available in select software tools eliminate the need for steady-state operation.  Some even eliminate that old constraint with both integrating and non-integrating processes.

  • Platform Independence:

One obvious downside of a DCS’ tuning capabilities – even the Emerson DeltaV – is its platform dependence.  That dependence presents a challenge for many manufacturers as more and more environments involve a jumble of disparate control technologies.  While DeltaV tuning capabilities are limited in such an environment, some third-party DeltaV tuning tools are flexible enough to function across platforms.  This allows them to tune all major DCS and PLC controllers in a combination of online and offline modes.

Emerson does offer PID tuning capabilities in conjunction with its DeltaV DCS. Like the tuning products from other large OEMs, however, those capabilities are generally suitable for use on a limited range of process dynamics – not necessarily the “everyday” dynamics found in a typical production facility.  For process manufacturers with processes that are highly variable a more robust modeling and tuning tool may be warranted.  LOOP-PRO TUNER (DeltaV Edition) is one such option that integrates seamlessly and that supports other non-DeltaV controllers.  A complimentary PID Tuning Guide is available HERE for download.

If you’re seeking an industrial-grade PID tuning solution for the Emerson DeltaV DCS, then give us a call and learn how LOOP-PRO is uniquely equipped to tackle the most complex PID control loops!

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