E-News September 2009 Edition

Training Our Way out of Recession by Professor Mike Grimble

During a recession is the best time to build the skills of engineering teams but it is also the time when there is most pressure on budgets and training options can be limited. In practise it is therefore during the time when companies start to see a recovery when training activities expand. It seems highly likely that over the next few months we shall see a firm recovery both in Europe and in the USA. The ACTC is well placed to support companies through new training course provision.

Development of new training course material has progressed strongly during the last 5 years. In fact Industrial Systems & Control Ltd. that runs the ACTC program has invested heavily in the development of training courses ranging from advanced robust and reliable control to engineering mathematics. Bespoke courses have also been produced in very specialist areas such as hydraulic systems for Danieli in Italy and offshore oil production process control for BP. Please contact Dr. Andrew Clegg if you would like to discuss one off specialist course provision.

If ACTC members would like to suggest new training course or indeed any academies please contact Dr Meghan McGookin . There are several few days to one week courses currently being considered on rather more specialist topics. For example, courses or meetings targeted at the nuclear industry or possible wind energy are being discussed with members. There is also a specialist event on marine systems which is also being considered. All ideas and feedback are welcome.

Mike Grimble


Forthcoming Events: Scheduled Training Courses: Control Fundamentals and Kalman Filtering

ISC is proud to present a basic two-day training course in “Control Fundamentals” followed by a day on “Kalman Filtering” (from 27th – 29th October 2009). The Control fundamentals course introduces basic control knowledge for dealing with analysis of a linear system in terms of stability and performance. Classical control methods such as PID and lead-lag controls are illustrated in this course. With an understanding of linear dynamic systems from this course, an additional one-day course for the widely applied estimation technique known as Kalman Filtering is introduced. A Kalman Filter is an efficient recursive filter that is used to estimate a state from a series of measurement of the other states of a linear system. For nonlinear systems the extended Kalman Filter is usually used and this will also be covered.

Furthermore, significant hands-on sessions are used to reinforce the lecture materials in both training courses.


Scheduled Training: Robust, Reliable and Multivariable Control Course

In May 2009, Prof Mike Grimble and Dr Pawel Majecki presented an advanced three-day control course on “Robust, Reliable and Multivariable Control” at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. This course illustrated the basic concepts of robust and reliable control system and problems associated with multivariable systems. The course was well-attended and well received by major companies such as BP and EMPA, Switzerland. Innovative area of interests such as Fault Detection, Fault Tolerance and Reconfiguration, Predictive Control, and Optimal LQG Control were covered in this course. The delegates found the hands-on sessions with industrial examples/applications particularly useful to further reinforce the lectures.


Scheduled Course: Optimisation Methods and Genetic Algorithms, and System Identification, Glasgow

Two consecutive training courses on Optimisation Methods (one-day course) and System Identification (two-day course) allowed the delegates to choose whether to attend one or both. Optimisation is used across all engineering fields and system identification is probably the most important and difficult step required for a successful modern control design. This course was held in the Premier Inn, Glasgow, on 4th – 6th August 2009 and was very well attended by 12 delegates from major companies such as Garrad Hassan, RWE Npower and Scottish & Southern.


Training Course for Boeing, Seattle, USA.

Recently, Professor Mike Grimble and Dr Pawel Majecki presented our popular course for Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (BCAG), Seattle, USA, in July 2009. The course, “Control Fundamentals” was targeted for delegates who required a refresher in control theory and/or newcomers who have minimal knowledge about control systems. This course also provided a basic understanding of using Matlab and/or Simulink for control system design. This course was well-attended and the general feedback was positive.

To further extend the course mentioned above, ISC ltd will be delivering two courses to Boeing. A three-day intermediate course in “Multivariable Control and Applications” and an advanced three-day course in Kalman Filtering will be delivered in September 2009. Both courses are aimed for engineers who are seeking to improve their knowledge in the field of advanced control theories.


New Developments in Nonlinear Filter Design for Applications in Fault Monitoring and Control

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have supported over the last 8 years platform grant funding or the Industrial Control Centre at the University of Strathclyde. The main aim of the funding was to develop simple nonlinear control algorithms for real industrial applications and there have been a number of joint meetings between the ACTC and the University on this subject. Potentially valuable development has been on filtering, smoothing and prediction theory for nonlinear systems. A recent paper in the IEEE transactions on signal processing by Mike Grimble and Shamshar Ali Naz describes the estimator in a form suitable for systems represented by a combination of nonlinear blocks and transfer function terms. In fact more recent developments also provide state space and state dependant versions. Like the control problem these estimators are particularly simple to understand and implement which is a considerable advantage for nonlinear systems. Moreover, they are very efficient numerically.

The basic form of these estimators is suitable for systems that have transmissions channels or major nonlinear dynamics between the signal and the measurement. If there are no such dynamics and the system happens to be linear the result corresponds with Kalman Filters or even Wiener Filters. However, there are many applications such as fault monitoring systems where a signal must be estimated which lies deep within the dynamics of the process. The signal channel between the signal and the measurement can be uncertain, includes delays and be very nonlinear. This new class of estimator allows such signals to be accessed without the usual distortion that arises through nonlinear dynamics. A MatLAB software toolbox is available and Labview tools are being developed. Further details may be obtained from Prof M J Grimble


Professor Mike Grimble visits the University of Calabria, Italy

The Industrial Control Centre in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering has received two platform grants over recent years for work in advanced nonlinear control for industrial applications. During a seminar by Professor Mike Grimble at the University of Florence last year Professor Alessandro Casavola was so interested in the results of this project that he invited a full course to be given to his students and researchers at the University of Calabria. This covered all aspects of the theory, design and application of the new nonlinear control design approach. It involved an introduction to the theoretical basis of the new design philosophy and the application results from this EPSRC programme. It involved a demonstration of the new MATLAB and LABVIEW design facilities and tools. These were produced by Dr Pawel Majecki and are part of a new text book with Professor Grimble to be published later this year.

During the visit a research seminar was also presented on New developments in marine systems control as well as an overview of a seminar was also presented on the research programmes within the Department of Electronic and Electrical engineering and specifically the Industrial Control Centre. In addition to the benefits of disseminating the results of the EPSRC programme, support opportunities were also identified for European Union project collaboration with the University of Calabria. The visit was very intensive but very helpful to co-operation between the two Universities.