Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine

“Everything is circular and always goes back to the basis.” 

When I started to practice Japanese martial arts, this quote had a very deep meaning. What it means to me is that without a solid base you cannot learn what is, or should be, next. But in learning advanced movements, even with a solid base, you must always go back and train the base and fundamentals again and again whilst adding your new experiences, in an effort to move forward towards perfection in an efficient way.

Today we are in the IoT & connectivity era. To the plant manager, an operational manager is always requested to do better whilst consuming less. Following the Industrie 4.0 slogan it seems that "everything and anything is possible" with the inter-connectivity of machines and deep data-mining provided by data scientists or new technologies such as big data analytics.

This is true, but not all the plants are ready. Often the path is long from the start, or the base that everything is built upon.

So, talking about industrial control systems in process automation, not discrete, what is the base? It's the PID.

How many times have you tuned your PID? How much and for how long have you dove deep into the process analysis? How many process simulations have you performed in order to understand the correct PID values and the applicable ROI?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?   

Consultation from Cradle to Grave

This is a consultancy process that required competency in many areas, not only in automation but also in process knowledge and IT understanding.

One company can provide it all, and some companies may already have full competency within their existing staff, but what is hard is to set aside the time to get these people in one room and find a common understanding in the best way to proceed. As per past experiences, it is better find a person outside the company that can lead the project from the cradle to grave, and the consequent steps are:

  1. Identify the PID
  2. Take the Loop Tuning Data from the plant Historian or set a data acquisition related to the selected PID making a step test variation
  3. Simulate the data and create a set of PID optimized that can help to show clearly the ROI given by using the new values
  4. Implement the new values and set a data acquisition that will show the benefit before and after 

The process looks simplistic but the true complexity is in the first step: identifying the PID. The other steps are much faster and more clear for customers and suppliers, but step one is always depends on the capabilities of the consultant. If he can't identify the wrong PID with a bad ROI, the result will be not satisfactory and the customer will probably lose confidence in the consulting company for optimization solutions.

Final Thoughts

The modern age is coming fast. The data will be fast delivered into cloud platforms and the industrial plant will be handled with fewer people. Automation is transforming in commodities and the logic inside will always be more standardized. The "young engineer" will be considered to be a specialist in the field called advanced solutions, today. The knowledge of the base will be implemented in sophisticated AI, hence its crucial importance.

The future is not so far away. In this period of transition we need to fix the bricks where we put a solid substructure to build Industry 4.0.

Learn more about Yokogawa's tuning software TuneVP Plus and contact us for a consultation.