Regulatory Control and Safety Systems

Safety is all about making the right decisions, and correctly implementing the chosen course of action. Some safety 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.

This is because theory is one thing practice is another. Academic process control is mathematical and abstract. As always we do the opposite, understanding process dynamics before selecting, tuning and integrating the regulatory approach.

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

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.

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

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.

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 regulatory 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 control techniques, and hence understand why model based control, whilst technically interesting, is of minimal use without solid regulatory control as a basis.

They will understand non-linear behaviour and be able to apply adaptive control techniques to compensate, as well as an appreciation of how to control non self-regulating processes.

We will also consider the use of automatic tuning tools and their limitations. By the end of 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. Nor does academia touch on the use of automatic safety systems for emergency shutdown and fire and gas detection, and how it integrates with regulatory control.

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 control.

You will learn how to:

  • Identify different aspects of Control Systems
  • Identify and explain each element of safety systems
  • Measure Process Dynamics
  • Determine Control Dynamics
  • Use the Control Toolkit
  • 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
  • Recognise the need for model based control


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.