Process Control and Instrumentation

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Modern process control is an eclectic quest enhanced by mathematical simulations. Applied techniques range from basic proportional, integral, derivative (PID) controllers to multivariable predictive control, fuzzy logic, neural networks and nonlinear adaptive control.

Links to basic and advanced process control information include [], a site maintained by Prashant N. Mhatre.

The University of Newcastle's Chemical Engineering Swot Shop's Course Notes and Learning Resources for Process Control [] is another resource.

Despite occasional dead links, the sites lead to explanations, interpretations and detailed analyses invaluable to understanding of chemical process control and automation.

Matlab is a computer program from Mathworks used by control engineers for numerical computation and data visualization. A Basics Tutorial [ basic/basic.html] is accessible as part of the Control Tutorials for Matlab (CTM) [] to help beginners learn how to use Matlab for analysis and design. Additional tools are available through links at [].

Few fields have more acronyms than process control and IT. To get through the alphabet soup, try the Table of Instrumentation Acronyms [ /elearning/ref/insttab.asp] from Control Technology Corporation (CTC). CTC's E-Learning Center [ #online] provides online tutorials, glossaries, and reference tables of additional acronyms can be accessed. The Acronym Finder [] is another place to search with over 310,000 acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms.

For more efficient surfing, use's search list to narrow the selections []. Each listed link opens to a focused grouping of applicable pages.

Major Web directories also can be useful. For instance, Google's Process Measurement and Control section [ Control/] includes numerous links as well as links to organizations and societies, and to related categories such as data acquisition and control. Guidance from Google Help Central [] may focus a search or introduce tools and services that may assist in finding specific information. Other search engines' peculiarities may prove valuable, such as WiseNut's [] ability to cluster query results in categories that are semantically related.

The Web is a great place to share thoughts and ask questions about control and instrumentation. A number of forums or bulletin boards are dedicated to discussing the subjects. Some are membership (registration) based, while others are open. A modest amount of advertising is sometimes included. The forums include Process Measurement and Control [], one of the Network54 interactive communities. The discussion is dedicated to the process industries: power, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical and chemical. PID is a popular subject.

The Engineering Tips forums [] include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) [] and Measurement & Control Instrumentation [], as well as ISA Code Issues [] and a specific Chemical Engineers area []. The forums are for engineering professionals and discussions are independent and focused. Posting in the forums is a member-only feature, but the forums can be read without registering first.

Ocaso Technology Ltd.'s APC-network. com [www.apc-network com/] is a virtual community for Advanced Process Control (APC) technology in the Refining and Petrochemical industry. Registration (free) is required for access to the forum. The site also serves as a portal for APC technology by presenting relevant and up-to-date information collated, organized, and provided through a single source. [] is an online global community of control and automation professionals. In addition to a discussion forum, the site includes a page [http://www.control. com/links_page] with a variety of links that cover topics, questions, equipment, information resources and directories. There is also an email version, The A-List [ com/alist/]is for the discussion of automation topics, including PLCs, plant networks, and other automation concerns. Both Control. com forum and the A-List are moderated to avoid commercial exploitation. Both are open to end users, the trade press, students and suppliers.

By Alan E. Hodel, Internet Columnist

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