Advanced Controls: QuickStudy

Implementation Process for QuickStudy Regulatory Control Improvement Projects

Adaptive Resources, established in 1992, provides QuickStudy technology and application expertise to help companies maximize their unit profitability by improving process yields, quality, and throughput. The QuickStudy Adaptive Control Suite achieves a performance & price breakthrough with a new class of noninvasive process identification technology and inherently stable & robust controller technology originally developed for the aerospace industry.

QuickStudy technology is applied in plants by our staff of experienced process and control engineers. Adaptive Resources utilizes a structured project methodology on process control improvement projects to insure safety is maintained and control improvement and usability objectives are achieved. Our standard project implementation process is outlined below:

  • Front-End Planning: The first step in a plant performance improvement project is to understand the process and the control issues that need to be addressed. This is typically discussed in a meeting with the plant process and control engineers. This meeting will go into some detail, so a confidentially agreement is often required. The outcome of this step is to exchange information required to understand the plant’s process and control issues, and to identify opportunities for improvement with QuickStudy. Technical details of the QuickStudy technology and how it can be applied in the specific plant applications are also covered in detail. A schedule is established and action items are identified and assigned.
  • System Integration and Data Collection: The next step is the integration of QuickStudy Data Logger with the existing control system to collect data points identified in the front-end planning. This data is used for control strategy development and to baseline the current control performance. The data collection is noninvasive on normal plant operations as no special testing, or induced process disturbances are required with QuickStudy technology. For many plants the data is collected for a few days, however some applications with long process dead-times and lags require a week or two of data collection. QuickStudy can communicate with practically any control system through standard DDE and OPC protocols.
  • Analysis and Control Strategy Development: AR engineers perform an off-line analysis using the QuickStudy Modeling and Simulation Tool (Q-MAST) on the data collected in the QuickStudy Data logger (or the plant history package). Q-MAST quickly identifies and graphically displays process gains, responses and dead times, and the effect of disturbance variables on the process. Process models and control strategies are rapidly developed and tested off-line to determine the optimum solution. Plant engineers are encouraged to participate in this step to gain in-depth knowledge of the process. The results of the analysis and optimum control strategy testing will be provided to the plant project team. AR engineers will meet with the plant team to discuss the analysis results and review the recommended strategy for approval.
  • Control Strategy Implementation: Upon approval by the responsible plant personnel, the AR team will configure the QuickStudy Adaptive Process Controller (APC) to implement the control strategy. For security, “fall back” control is established in the event of the failure or disconnection of the QuickStudy APC Windows NT processor. The QuickStudy APC configuration is reviewed and tested to identify and correct entry errors. Plant engineers are encouraged to participate in this step to gain in-depth knowledge of the QuickStudy APC system.
  • Commissioning: Plant engineers actively participate and manage this step as it involves modification of the plant control system. Plant personnel and the Adaptive Resources engineer will connect the QuickStudy APC processor to the plant control system through the same interface used by the QuickStudy Data Logger in Step 2. QuickStudy APC parameters are added on the existing control system displays so the operator has access to the status and mode information. The QuickStudy controller will initially run in a background “Model” mode to further refine (adapt) the model accuracy while the plant control system controls the process. QuickStudy APC will advise with a “model goodness” indicator when the model is ready to assume control. The operator then directs the plant control system to use the QuickStudy APC output to control the process. The Adaptive Resources engineer further refines the control performance, if require, by minor weighing factor tuning of the QuickStudy PCS block. Commissioning typically requires one day to complete.
  • Follow-up Review: After the QuickStudy APC has run for an agreed period of time, the plant project team and Adaptive Resources team will meet to review the control improvement results against the project objectives. Based on the success, additional control improvement opportunities will be identified and implemented as described above.