Process Control - A Practical Approach

About the book

Myke King, director of Whitehouse Consulting, has developed the material covered by his organisation's well-known training courses into this book. It presents process control design techniques that have an immediate practical application. The theory, originating in the academic world and found daunting by most control engineers, is kept to a minimum.

The book addresses the wide array of algorithms and engineer-definable parameters included in most DCS. Time-consuming tuning by trial and error becomes largely unnecessary. Leading the reader from basic control techniques it progresses through ARC (advanced regulatory control) to more complex MPC (multivariable predictive control). It includes many process-specific examples - particularly for fired heaters, fired boilers, compressors and distillation columns.

The book takes a back-to-basics approach. The use of proprietary MPC packages is widespread. Control engineers have invested thousands of man-hours in the necessary plant testing and commissioning. Improving the basic controls is not usually an option once the MPC is in place. Thus poor basic control remains the status quo and becomes the accepted standard to the point where it is not addressed even when the opportunity presents itself. This book raises the standard of what might be expected from the performance of all controllers.

What others thought of the book



"This book should take the process-control world by storm." Edward Dilley

Lecturer in Process Control, ESD Simulation, UK

"This book would be of value to process control engineers in any country." Andrew Ogden-Swift

Chairman, Process Measurement and Control Subject Group, Institution of Chemical Engineers

"Great book about Process Control

"After 20 years working in Process Control & Optimization in a Petroleum Refinery and having read quite a few books about the topic, I am really impressed with my latest acquisition.

"It is the book written by our fellow Mr. Myke King: 'Process Control: A practical approach'. Indeed is one of the best, if not the best, about the topic. Written from the experience for people who need to get experience. Myke does not keep any secret behind, he explains the most important issues using plain words and only using the required equations. Readers should be able to understand all the maths used in this book, it will not be a handicap for understanding.

"I do agree almost all the time with his arguments, it took me many hours in the past to learn and understand many of the topics he explains now in the book, definitely it is the book I would liked to have when I began as a professional. It actually closes the gap.

"For any of you wishing to learn about Process Control this book is a must, do not be afraid of wasting your money it really deserves every single $.

"I only find some parts of the book to be too dense for the beginner, everything is there but sometimes too much in a single page. Myke, next time, you should be thinking about a thicker book, I hope the editor does not complain.

"Myke thanks a lot for this great book."

Rafael Gonzalez Martin

Process Control Manager, Petroleos del Norte S.A. Petronor, Spain

"Thank you for writing this book. I keep it together with the slides as a good reference from the Whitehouse courses!" Bart Van den Broeck

Process Control Engineer, Total Raffinaderij Antwerp, Belgium
"You teach one of the best classes around and we’ve implemented several controls based on your class. I bought 5 books, one for each of the Control Engineers at Sweeny." Kent Hickenbottom

Process Control Team Leader, ConocoPhillips Sweeny Refinery, USA

"I really want to thank you, this book is fantastic. Basic concepts are very clear. I like to know other books written by you?" Suri Rajan

Senior Process Control Engineer, Ramco Systems, India

"Good and it means what it says!! - A practical approach to process contol" Gowtham Kumar Gummadi

APC Consultant, Invensys Operations Management, India

"It's a great book and I would use it as a reference in new process control engineer training. I recommend it." Francisco Arista López

Head of Advanced and Distributed Control, CEPSA, Huelva, Spain

"I owe my career to a process control book. In 1978 I joined a process control group at a UK petrochemicals site. It was a great job, but I had a distinct lack of process control knowledge. I needed to learn advanced process control (APC) fast. Luckily, a colleague suggested Process Control Systems by Greg Shinskey. I read it cover to cover and, as a result, I approached my first underperforming temperature controller knowing what to do.

"Myke King's book is such a book for a new hire. It is, first and foremost, a study of proportional, integral, derivative (PID) based regulatory control, what works and what, in his experience, does not.

"He starts with a review of process dynamics - how dependent measurements move when we change something in the process. He discusses steady state and integrating responses along with techniques to identify process responses from experimental plant test data. The author's derivation of a simple graphical technique to approximate a first order plus dead-time response deserves a place in every engineer's toolbox.

"The immortal PID control algorithm is reviewed in detail with examples of the common variants and tuning techniques. The author makes a reasoned argument that an effective load response is far more important than a fast setpoint response and that engineers should use the ideal 'proportional on PV' PID form.

"After a review of the published methods of tuning PID loops, the author focuses on a tried and tested method based on first order plus dead-time approximations of the open loop process response. Users can tune loops directly from the graphs in the book.

"A separate chapter is devoted to integrating variables (often levels) covering measurement characterisation, tight/averaging level control and some variants of the PID algorithm. A tuning method is given and methods of tuning to achieve 'average' level control to reduce downstream disturbances are discussed. Further sections on signal characterisation, feedforward control and dead-time compensation close the analysis of single PID loops.

"The multivariable control chapter introduces decoupling, signal selectors, valve position controllers and other constraint control techniques as methods of dealing with interactive and constrained processes. The general principles of multivariable predictive control (MPC) are introduced, and there is a discussion of inferentials (soft sensors) and online analysers.

"After discussing common processes we arrive at the book's largest chapter, Distillation columns, reflecting the challenges that these units present. Pressure control, column mass balance, tray temperature control, internal reflux, inferential development and analysers are covered. The example of an MPC for distillation control is worth reading. The book closes with discussions about APC and real-time optimisation (RTO) benefit estimation, ideal APC organisations, APC project bid requests and vendor selection.

"The book focuses on using practical techniques to achieve an effective base regulatory control layer, and it should be read in this light. The author is experienced and he doesn't hesitate to tell you what he thinks, making this a good book to increase your practical knowledge of regulatory control."

Doug Nicholson

Consultant, Ipcos

(published in TCE Today)

About the author

Myke King is the founder and director of Whitehouse Consulting, an independent consulting organisation specialising in process control. He has over 35 years experience working with over 100 clients from more than 30 countries. As part of his consulting activities Myke has developed training courses covering all aspects of process control. To date, around 2,000 delegates have attended these courses. To support his consulting activities he has developed a range of software to streamline the design of controllers and to simulate their use for learning exercises.

Myke graduated from Cambridge University in the UK with a Master's degree in chemical engineering. His course included process control taught as part of both mechanical engineering and chemical engineering. At the time he understood neither! On graduating he joined, by chance, the process control section at Exxon's refinery at Fawley in the UK. Fortunately he quickly discovered that the practical application of process control bore little resemblance to the theory he had covered at university. He later became head of the process control section and then moved to operations department as a plant manager. This was followed by a short period running the IT section.

Myke left Exxon to co-found KBC Process Automation, a subsidiary of KBC Advanced Technology, later becoming its managing director. The company was sold to Honeywell where it became their European centre of excellence for process control. It was at this time Myke set up Whitehouse Consulting.

Myke is a Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers in the UK. He lives on the Isle of Wight.

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Errors in the first edition

Hopefully this edition has corrected all the errors discovered in the first edition. Click here to see what they were.