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ISA book explains how to improve control system performance

The International Society of Automation (ISA) has published a new book designed to help all automation professionals—even those with no prior education or experience in process engineering or control theory—improve reactor and control system performance.

The book, Advances in Reactor Measurement and Control by Gregory K. McMillan, shines light on the latest technologies and methods for increasing plant performance by improving bioreactor, fermenter and chemical reactor automation.

Readers will learn what measurements, control strategies, controller features and tuning parameters will achieve process objectives for a given type of reactor.

“The reactor is the most critical piece of equipment in the front end of a production unit,” says McMillan, a widely acclaimed and honored automation professional and author. “The reactor determines process capacity and efficiency and product quality.”

Written from a practical rather than academic perspective, the book underscores how control system design can determine the different process responses and fundamental characteristics of the major types of reactors in the process industry.

McMillan—the author of more than 20 books, including several ISA best sellers, and the recipient of the ISA Life Achievement Award—educates through a practitioner’s experience and perspective, outlining the general concepts and details, from the field to the control room, for the control and optimization of batch and continuous reactors.

“Taking a practitioner’s approach, I believe, is unique,” he says. “The concepts in this book are developed to help the reader understand the fundamental differences in reactor applications and improve the performance of nearly all types of reactors. Other books in this area have focused on continuous stirred tank reactors or polymerization reactors and are written more from a university perspective.

“Practitioners,” McMillan continues, “want to understand the commonality and the simplicity rather than the uniqueness and sophistication of solutions. They want to take responsibility for the automation system; to be actively involved in its design, installation, and continuous improvement; and want proven technology readily configured rather than new algorithms based on mathematical appeal.”

The book’s practical value, McMillan adds, is reinforced through its:

  • Simple presentation of the characteristics and implications of each of the dynamic responses needed to achieve the necessary efficiency, capacity, quality, and safety in operation.
  • Clear explanation of the PID features and tuning and control loops needed for addressing the lack of smoothing in dead time dominant processes and the lack of negative feedback in integrating and runaway processes.

Author Gregory K. McMillan, a Certified Automation Professional, is a former Senior Fellow at Solutia/Monsanto where he specialised in leveraging engineering technology to improve process control. 

An ISA Fellow, McMillan: received the ISA "Kermit Fischer Environmental" Award for pH control in 1991; received the Control Magazine "Engineer of the Year" Award for the Process Industry in 1994; was inducted into the Control "Process Automation Hall of Fame" in 2001; and was honored by InTech magazine in 2003 as one of the most influential innovators in automation.

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