Introduction to Automation

Successful outcomes are all about making the right decisions, and correctly implementing the chosen course of action. Some decisions are so crucial to good performance we automate the process, in an effort to minimise human factors.

Automation done properly performs repetitive tasks better than humans, simplifying operations, but automation done poorly increases the demands on humans, complicating operations.

A digital enterprise extends all the way to the sharp end, moving the final control elements that deliver quality product. The intelligent integration of information technology with automation will increase productivity considerably for any organisation.

Theory is one thing practice is another. A background in information technology does not provide a knowledge of process control, and academic process control is mathematical and abstract. As always we do the opposite, understanding process dynamics before selecting, tuning and integrating the automation approach.

Target Audience

The course suits everybody from management and leadership roles, supervisory roles, operations engineering support teams, instrument technicians and panel operators. Everybody will benefit from this course as we move further into a digital world.

Course Topics

The course starts with a breakdown of automation from final element all the way back through a control loop; to the architecture of control systems, including emergency shutdown and fire and gas systems, and on to the integration with management information systems.

There should be no element of automation systems that we do not explain such that the purpose and the contribution to regulating systems can be understood.

We then measure and compare process dynamics explaining how each piece of information is used to select the appropriate control technique. This whole course has been prepared to build from the concepts of process dynamics towards the application of the most appropriate control technique. The course gives a practical introduction to the application of control from the standpoint of modelling process dynamics and selecting an appropriate control technique to reflect the process dynamics.

Building on a thorough understanding of the basics of control, each participant will be introduced to our concept of the ‘control toolkit’ such that they understand and can apply the appropriate automation technique.

At the end of the course delegates will be able to collect and analyse process data. Importantly, they will understand the ongoing demands of different automation techniques.

Course Overview

In our experience, the teaching of control and information technology does not adequately explain the top to bottom concept of automation and hence many digital systems have been assembled piece meal without adequate integration.

This programme aims to provide understanding of automation through practical exercise starting at the sharp end and working back to the desk of the executive.

We will use a range of simulation models to measure process dynamics, test and tune control techniques; just as you would do onsite. We limit the theory to what you need to know to understand the practical exercise of process control.

Your job in the real world is not to develop new control techniques, we can leave that to the many control specialists out there, your job is to apply and integrate known control and information technology techniques to get the maximum benefit in production automation.

Ultimately, we will go hands on into the world of video gaming and augmented reality to explore how information and automation can be combined into a single universal interface for the whole organization, such that we bring clarity to the business allowing focus on the highest value opportunity at any given time.

Learning Objectives

The overall objective is to learn how to use engineering, digital and business process best practice in combination. You will learn how to:

  • Automate the management of opportunity and risks
  • Assess current process
  • Carry out decision analysis
  • Construct a plan and carry out programme evaluation and review
  • Implement digital tools to integrate and automate analysis and improvement
  • Introduction to Control and Protective Systems
  • Role of each element of a control system
  • Plant control objectives
  • Produce desired response using a range of control options
  • Controller Terms
  • Automation Toolkit: Automate the complete range of operations


Howard Thomas has advocated practical approaches to handling complexity for over 20 years. He has a unique ability to make the complex clear for his clients and audiences.
He combines an in depth technical background with a wide ranging business experience but is probably best known for his engaging style of presentation.

He is formally technically accredited as a Fellow of Engineers Australia and a Chartered Professional Chemical Engineer and has worked on hydrocarbon installations all over the world, from roles as a technician to executive consultancy.