E-News August 2008 Edition

New Training Courses for Everyone by Professor Mike Grimble

The ACTC continues to develop its training course services widening the range of courses and in some cases making them more targeted to the industry involved. One of the most general courses to be introduced is on Engineering Mathematics but since there is quite a difference between the needs of say electrical engineers and systems engineers these courses require a degree of tailoring and this may therefore eat into some of the other entitlements on either courses or consulting help.

The courses for the automotive industry have been particularly successful and the latest versions at introductory or advanced level have been used repeatedly by companies like Ford, Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, Ricardo and Visteon. Some of the specialist items offered on new one or two day courses include the design of controllers for non linear systems and the use of neural networks in both control and fault monitoring.

The ACTC is managed by Industrial Systems and Control Ltd. (ISC) and this company is also widening the range of bespoke training courses it offers. It is possible for ACTC members to have specialist courses developed for them based upon some of the previous ISC courses, (like those on hydraulic systems). Such an enterprise is of course very time consuming and involves significant extra cost but members can use their entitlements and they gain a special discount.

The expertise of ISC is often required in the case studies put forward by ACTC members. These range from projects for BAE Systems to those for GlaxoSmithKline. Members therefore gain the advantage of having experienced engineers investigate their problems in addition to the regular ACTC staff that try to look after their needs. Some of the projects ISC undertakes are also of interest to ACTC members. For example, the EU funded new project on offshore wind farms (supported by the European Union) will be of interest to a number of the power companies. ISC will be organising some of the dissemination activities in addition to undertaking some of the advanced control systems work. ACTC members will be invited to attend future open meetings.

Professor Mike Grimble has been awarded a major new research grant on nonlinear systems control and this is in cooperation with the University of Glasgow. The researcher at Glasgow is Dr David Anderson and members will recall his excellent service for the ACTC up to a couple of years ago. The developments and software tools from this project will be disseminated at both meetings and through individual company visits.

Some of the future meetings that are now being planned to watch for include the next Process Control Academy in cooperation with Emerson Process Control in Stockport and the next Rolling Mill Academy in cooperation with Converteam in Rugby. There will also be a three-day event on nonlinear control which will include an introduction to hybrid systems control and also a technology day in cooperation with National Instruments. Also in cooperation with NI we shall be mounting a two-day event in Detroit for the automotive industry. This will be hosted by both Freescale and NI. This meeting is in addition to the technical workshops that are being planned for the UK covering topics like safety systems and reliable control.

Mike Grimble


Next Two Events of the Rolling Mill Academy Series.

ISC and Converteam are pleased to announce details of the next two events of the rolling mill academy series. The 10th International Rolling Mill Academy will be held in Royal Leamington Spa, England on 15-17 October, 2008. The 11th International Rolling Mill Academy will be held at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland on 2-6 March, 2009.

Glasgow, United Kingdom – (18th August, 2008) ISC and Converteam today announced the details of the 10th and 11th International Rolling Mill Academies. ISC (Industrial Systems and Control) is the leading industrial controls consultancy company, supplying customised control solutions and training. Converteam is the leading global power conversion specialist.

10th Academy

The 10th Academy is managed by Converteam and planned for 15th-17th October, 2008 at Ashorne Hill country house in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. It will focus on state-of-the-art automation and rolling mill technology for the control of thickness, width, profile, flatness and temperature in hot and cold mills. The course will include examples of multivariable control, predictive control and mill simulations. ISC will contribute to this course with lectures on advanced control applications.

Note to ACTC members: whilst ISC will contribute to this event, it is an external event that is not managed by ISC/ACTC. We regret that we are therefore unable to offer any free places or discounts to ACTC members.

For further information visit www.rolling-academy.com.

11th Academy

ISC will manage the 11th Academy, which will be held at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland on 2-6 March, 2009. Its focus will be on advanced rolling mill control and technology, and how improved control can provide a competitive advantage through greater reliability, robustness and performance. There is a greater emphasis on advanced concepts, such as multivariable control and loop tuning methods. This makes the event of interest to control engineers, plant managers, plant engineers and operations/production staff. Basic control concepts are explained in an optional section of the course, for personnel without a (recent) background in control theory. Converteam will contribute with lectures on gauge control and drive technology.

For further information visit www.rollingmillacademy.com

In both courses, the lectures will be given by experienced industrial experts together with leading international researchers in hot and cold mill control systems, who each average 20 years’ experience in the field. Ideal for engineers involved in process control, metals production or control engineering, the Academy includes ‘hands-on’ training using mill model simulations to allow delegates to gain practical understanding of the techniques described for control of material properties. Delegates all receive full colour lecture notes together with samples of the simulation software used as part of the course.

The previous Academy events, organised by ISC, the University of Strathclyde and Converteam, were held in events in Glasgow in Scotland, Rugby in England, Pittsburgh in the USA, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Shanghai in China. They have attracted more than 200 delegates from 50 companies and 25 countries, including Alcan, Alcoa, China Steel, Corus, Dunaferr, Mittal and US Steel.

Contact for 10th International Rolling Mill Academy – Control and Technology:

Gerald Hearns, Converteam Ltd., Boughton Road, Rugby CV21 1BU, United Kingdom, Tel: +44 (0) 1788 563305, Email: academy@rolling-academy.com

Contact for 11th International Rolling Mill Academy - Advanced Control:

Lesley Breen, ISC Ltd., 50 George Street, Glasgow G1 1QE, United Kingdom,Tel: +44 (0) 141 5531111, Email: iscmail@isc-ltd.com


News Announcement on Wind Energy

Industrial Systems and Control is the parent company of the ACTC programme. It has recently become a member of an international consortium Aeolus to research the control of offshore wind farms. The objective of Aeolus is to develop more robust and reliable control philosophies to prolong life and reduce maintenance requirements. More specifically the research involves development of 1) models that allow real-time predictions of flows and incorporate data from a network of sensors, and 2) control paradigms that acknowledge the uncertainty in the modelling and dynamically manage the flow resource in order to optimise specific control objectives.

The project is managed by Professor Thomas Bak of the University of Aalborg in Denmark, which has a fine reputation for wind energy research. The partners also includes the largest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, also from Denmark, and the energy research centre ECN from the Netherlands. There will also be cooperation with the Industrial Control Centre at the University of Strathclyde and ACTC members that wish to attend any of the workshops or open events should notify Dr Gerrit van der Molen: gerrit@isc-ltd.com . Further information about this wind energy project may also be found on the web site www.ict-aeolus.eu.


Recent Consultancy Work for ACTC Members

In addition to the training that the ACTC provides for its member companies, another valuable service that we provide is the access to consultancy help with control and modelling projects. These can be projects that a member company maybe does not have appropriate in-house expertise to undertake, perhaps due to its reliance on modelling or a new control technique, or they can arise from people not having the time to devote to. In all cases the ACTC provides assistance to understand a problem, propose workable solutions and also importantly transfer understanding into the company.

BAE Systems at Barrow are new ACTC members, and joined with a view to build-up their in-house expertise in control and modelling for their submarine development teams. Their membership was kicked off with a two-day "brainstorming" session, where various engineers were asked to propose control problems and wish-lists to ACTC consultants. Each was discussed in some detail, and a specific problem was chosen, where a particular control loop was giving some concern around actuator overheating. A relatively simple dynamic simulation was developed to investigate better ways of controlling the three-way valve. Our recommendation is now being used by the design authority.

We have also completed a review for Lloyd's Register of Shipping on the Control of Marine Power Systems, which identified specific methods to mitigate problems that arise as such systems becoming more and more complex and involving interaction. The methods included looking at Hardware-in-the-Loop testing, Fault Tolerant Control and Supervisory Model Predictive Control approaches. If anybody would like to hear more about this please contact us.

Two further consultancy projects involving dynamic modelling have been undertaken for Scottish and Southern Energy and GlaxoSmithKline. For SSE the interaction between gas supply pressure control and the new unitised gas turbine fuel supply isolation slam shut valves was investigated, to better understand the margins of stability and pressure interactions between the units and any measures needed to improve them. For GSK a very detailed first-principles dynamic model was built of the packaged boilers they use for steam raising. This was used to investigate operational issues being experienced when bringing boilers on- and off-line. The model identified constraints in the control logic were the likely cause and so could be easily rectified without any recourse to expensive piping changes. The recommendations made are going through the necessary approvals before being trialled on-site.

If such consultancy work is of interest then just let us know and we will be happy to discuss your needs.


Successful Training Event at Ford, Dearborn

Professor Mike Grimble and Dr Pawel Majecki presented a training course at Ford Motor Company on System Optimisation and Identification. The course was well attended by enthusiastic engineers wanting to use such tools and requiring some perspective on what is available. There were excellent discussion sessions on both theory and practical applications.


Training Courses for Chrysler in Detroit

Professor Mike Grimble and Dr Pawel Majecki presented a training course for Chrysler in Detroit on basic control techniques and design methods. The course involved a tutorial introduction to classical control design techniques. A higher level course was also presented on nonlinear control systems design that included the new nonlinear generalised minimum variance control package developed within the Industrial Control Centre at the University of Strathclyde. Case study application examples were used to demonstrate the new design facilities. This course was attended by experienced automotive design engineers from which we received very positive comments: "All the topics of your 1st semester controls class and the respective MATLAB shortcuts". "I believe that a similar training course can reduce our development time by enabling us to calculate better initial PID gains via classical methods."


NI Week in Austin, Texas

Professor Mike Grimble visited NI Week which is a conference and exhibition organised by National Instruments in Austin, Texas. The size is remarkable being twice as large as any of the regular technical conferences on control engineering. NI is a technology leader in real time control hardware and software and has recently introduced simulation and design facilities similar to the MATLAB products. Its advantage is that it provides a total integrated package covering simulation, control design, signal processing, real time control and embedded systems. It is therefore faster to develop, analyse and then implement real time control systems in an integrated set of tools.

The event is a must for any user of LabVIEW, real time control products or indeed design engineers that actually have to get there designs working on real systems in a minimum time. The exhibition includes many NI related suppliers and partners that can cover so many areas of engineering from medical electronics to automotive. The technical sessions involve presentations from international experts. The plenary sessions presented by senior NI managers and engineers are probably the best orchestrated and arranged that one sees at any event. It is almost like the Disney company has helped in the presentations which is not to imply they do not cover deep subjects but it does suggest they are immensely entertaining in addition to being thoughtful and challenging. In fact, the main benefit of NI Week is that it gives a taste of new technology to come which is very likely to be very influential in all areas of applications and indeed academia.

There is real concern in both Europe and in the United States at the potential lack of good engineering graduates and National Instruments are doing there bit by cooperating in a wide range of programs to bring experimentally based engineering experiments to school children, Colleges and Universities.

There are few international companies with chief executives on first name terms with many of their staff and who attend the technical events such as NI week, and are so accessible. The technical leadership of NI and the very high moral and enthusiasm of its staff are in no small part due to the participation and drive exhibited by Dr James Truchard (president, Chief Executive Officer and cofounder of National Instruments). James was as usual a very active participant in the event.

Our own presentation at NI Week was on the Industrial Control Centres latest nonlinear control technique which is a form of predictive control which is much faster to compute than conventional methods. It provides a possible tool for high speed machinery controls in addition to its more conventional use in the process industries. The ICC at Strathclyde has produced a predictive control toolbox for NI which is available amongst its design suite of control programs. Cooperation with NI is seen as crucial in the centres attempt to make its industrial control algorithms available to a wider range of industrial users. The ACTC members may obtain prototype software from Pawel Majecki p.majecki@strath.ac.uk or Mike Grimble mgrimble@eee.strath.ac.uk.


New Book on Benchmarking Industrial Processes

Professor Andrzej Ordys of the University of Kingston in London has a new book on benchmarking in industrial control systems based on his work in the Industrial Control Centre at the University of Strathclyde. Professor Ordys is an old friend of the ACTC and indeed is to cooperate in the future development of services in the London area. His professorship at Kingston is particularly concerned with automotive control systems but he maintains an interest across industrial control. The details of the book are provided below:

A. Ordys, D Uduehi, M Johnson, "Process Control Performance Assessment, From Theory to Implementation" Monograph: Advances in Industrial Control Springer Verlag, London, ISBN/ISSN 978-1-84628-623-0 (2007).


Other News

Dr. Arek Dutka has been helping to provide services within the ACTC over recent years but he is now widening his experience by working for a small company in the University of Strathclyde and we are therefore making a new appointment for an engineer to take responsibility for providing training and consultancy support. By the time this newsletter is published the appointment will probably be made. The management of ISC Ltd. and his colleagues within the company would like to express there best wishes for the future to both Arek and his family.


Stop Press Announcement

Professor Mike J Grimble is to be the recipient of a major award from the IET in London later in the year for his services to industrial control engineering.