Practical Control Loop Tuning

Theory is one thing practice is another. Academic process control is mathematical and abstract, and the people who build control systems tend not to understand dynamics. How many loops on your plant have never worked?

As always we do the opposite, understanding process dynamics before selecting and tuning the loop.

Target Audience

Operations engineering support teams, instrument technicians and panel operators will all benefit from this course. New control engineers will also gain from practical advice to complement the theory from school. Technicians should have at least three years field experience, engineers do not require any experience.

Course Topics

We measure and compare process dynamics explaining how each piece of information is used to select the appropriate control technique. The course gives a practical introduction to modelling process dynamics and selecting an appropriate control technique to reflect the process dynamics.

Participants will be able to tune the various control techniques from basic on off control to feed forward, even applying feed forward techniques to decouple control interactions.

Computer simulations allow us to practice tuning via a control system interface whilst a dynamic simulation runs in real time giving immediate feedback on control performance.

At the end of the course delegates will be able to collect and analyse process data. We will also consider the use of automatic tuning tools and their limitations. The course participants should be able to participate in loop tuning and control discussions guiding and if necessary actively tuning control loops for optimum process performance

Course Overview

In our experience, the teaching of control theory does not adequately explain the concept of process dynamics.

Hence, many people have been introduced to control theory but don’t understand how to match the appropriate techniques with the actual process dynamics. This programme aims to provide understanding of process control through practical exercise, and an appreciation of safety systems and their requirements.

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 known control techniques to get the maximum benefit in production optimisation.

Learning Objectives

This course has been prepared to meet the specific requirements of engineers, control room operators and instrument specialists who together, need to gain confidence and competence in tuning loops.

You will learn how to:

  • Measure Process Dynamics
  • Determine Control Dynamics
  • Tune feed back loops
    o Feedback Control: On/Off
    o Feedback Control : Proportional Only
    o Feedback Control : Proportional and Integral
    o Feedback Control : Proportional, Integral and Derivative
    o Feedback Control: Cascade
  • Tune feed forward loops
    o Feed forward Control: Ratio
    o Feed forward Control : Bias
    o Feed forward Control : Models
  • Use tuning packages


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.