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Advanced Process Control for the Refining and Petrochemical Industry

Issue 3

Spring 2005

Whitehouse Consulting

Process Control Newsletter

10 th anniversary of Delft courses

We first began presenting our courses in The Netherlands in 1995, using the excellent facilities provided by the university in Delft. Over 200 delegates, from over 40 companies, have attended what is now a regular event. This year the dates will be:


Nov 14 th - 16 th


Nov 17 th - 18 th


Nov 24 th

Boiler/Fired Heater

Nov 22 nd


Nov 23 rd - 25 th

More details on content are available on our web site. Information on fees and location can be obtained from the web sites of our partners Paperwork and GT Forum .

Interested in an in-house course? These can be tailored as required and are a more economic solution if there are four delegates or more. The full range of modules is described on Whitehouse's web site. We can also structure on-site courses around some real controllers - a very effective way of demonstrating that the techniques really work!

Would like to understand more about the technical content of courses, or what companies have used them? Just contact us.

New office for Whitehouse

We did try to let everyone know of our move to larger premises that took place in August last year but, just in case we overlooked anyone, our new contact details are:

Redway House

East Lane


Isle of Wight

PO30 3DJ

United Kingdom

tel: +44 (0)1983 529931

fax: +44 (0)1983 530651

Mobile numbers and e-mail addresses are unchanged

Not heard of Whitehouse before?

While training is an important part of business, we are primarily an independent consulting organisation specialising in the practical application of advanced control and information systems to the oil and petrochemical industries. Our aim is to ensure our clients exploit all the profit improvement opportunities in the most cost effective way. Since we provide neither the technology nor implementation services our clients can be confident that the advice we offer is impartial.

Whitehouse was established almost 14 years ago and has worked with many of the world's leading companies. Its consultants each have around 30 years experience. Full details of our services are available from our website . This also provides clients lists and contact details.

New course module helps clients better execute projects

For many years we have included the module Project Execution in our in-company courses. Lasting two to three hours, it touched briefly on many of the aspects key to project success. Following suggestions from our clients, it has now been expanded into a full course in its own right. Now lasting two to three days it covers all aspects involved in the successful application of advanced process control (APC), describing many of the pitfalls and how they can be avoided. It includes:

  • how to determine the benefits of improved control
  • introduction to multi-variable control and the common pitfalls
  • ensuring the basic controls are working well
  • work involved in developing inferential properties
  • use of on-stream analysers
  • monitoring the performance of process control
  • organisational impact
  • performance guarantees
  • vendor selection
  • safety considerations
  • management of design and commissioning
  • post-commissioning work

The module will continue to be offered as part of in-company courses and, where possible, will include practical exercises based on the client's control system.

Steam Boiler and Fired Heater course extended

In response to suggestions from our clients we have included additional material in our popular course covering the control of steam boilers and fired heaters. It now comprises:

  • process description
  • fuel gas flow compensation
  • fuel gas heating value compensation
  • total duty control with dual firing of oil and gas
  • steam drum swell and inverse response
  • 3-element steam drum level control
  • flue gas oxygen and CO control
  • cross-limiting control
  • feedforward on feed rate and enthalpy
  • heater pass balancing
  • steam header pressure control
  • basic thermodynamics
  • steam system optimisation

The full module now lasts about 1.5 days, although it can readily be shortened to a day by omitting those topics that may not be relevant to the client.

Recent papers

Since our last newsletter we have published three papers. All can be seen on our web site. How to lose money with basic controls was published in Hydrocarbon Processing in October 2003, followed a year later by How to lose money with inferential properties . In February of this year NPT Procestechnologie published Improved training of process control engineers .

Older articles are also available on our web site. They offer advice on many aspects of process control and information systems.

Toolkit and Training software (version 10) released

We have released version 10 of our Process Control Engineering Toolkit and Training software. Many of the modules in the Toolkit have been enhanced. In particular the PID tuning package has been expanded to cover vendor-specific control algorithms (such as Emerson, Foxboro, Hartman & Braun, Honeywell and Yokogawa). It also now includes the option of applying IMC tuning (also known as the Lambda or Direct Synthesis method) and an approach that enables the Ziegler-Nichols closed loop method to be applied without the need to cause the process to oscillate. The Toolkit now includes:

  • dynamic model identification (for both regulating and non-self regulating processes)
  • controller tuner (supporting all the commonly used versions of the PID algorithm)
  • inferential property development
  • parallel coordinates
  • relative gain analysis
  • Lagrangian interpolation
  • pressure compensated temperature development
  • physical property database
  • engineering unit conversion utility

Full details, with some example screen displays, are on the Toolkit pages in our web site.

The training modules have also be enhanced. The option to change from linear to equal percentage or fast opening valves is now included and other control algorithms (such as Dahlin) can be configured. General improvements have also been made, including the facility for the user to set the speed of the simulations. The modules are:

  • feed drum to enable the user to learn about tight and averaging level control, and the use of non-linear algorithms
  • fired heater to help with the understanding of process dynamics, PID tuning, the use of filters and feedforward control
  • effluent treatment to show the difficulties of controlling highly non-linear processes and how these can be overcome
  • compressor to permit the exploration of the common load control schemes and surge protection
  • reactor to offer solutions to problems associated with inherently unstable processes, long deadtimes, discontinuous measurements and variable dynamics
  • distillation column to allow the application of all the common control strategies, including inferential property control
  • steam boiler to help the user design schemes to deal with changing fuel gas conditions, dual firing, excess air control and steam drum level control
  • process optimisation using multivariable control and an open-equation based optimiser

Full details are on the software pages in our web site.

New users

We are pleased to report that, since our last newsletter, several companies have taken out licences to our software . These include:


Huntsman Petrochemicals

Kuwait Petroleum

Nippon Petroleum