AUTOMATION Is

there any industry that is likely to earn a profit during the economic downturn? The answer is automation. As corporate majors try to increase productivity, one way they are likely to achieve this is through automation. Flexibility and efficiency are going to be the differentiators in order to quickly develop and manufacture an increasing number of products to meet the rapidly changing demands of the market. Moreover, with growing competition, “timing and speed are going to be vital for survival and success of the future organisation. No organisation in today‟s age can survive without agility and responsiveness to changing environments. Systemic efficiencies can only be brought in and improved through automation. With companies becoming more and more complex and dispersed, there is need for efficient manpower,” says Sumit Paul, general manager industrial, Rockwell Automation India.

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While employees of many global companies are bombarded by inflation and job worries, the employees in the automation industry of India by and large continue to enjoy rising salaries and strong demands for their services. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the global economy and in daily experience. Engineers strive to combine automated devices with mathematical and organisational tools to create complex systems for a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities. India‟s manufacturing sector, which is spurring the country‟s gross domestic p roduct (GDP) growth, is undergoing a major transformation. It is scaling up and beginning to seek global competitiveness through the wider application of automation and IT (information technology). This trend is contributing to the robust growth of the automation industry. “Automation is a well-established technology, both in the manufacturing sector and

only 25 per cent of the 600. India‟s hope of emerging as an economic superpower depends a lot on how we groom our engineers to leverage this technology. the scene is not so encouraging for diploma holders as their starting salary usually ranges from Rs 150. whereas in countries like India and China. wherever there is a need for process control to increase productivity.infrastructure. The automation industry is growing 6-8 per cent globally. Automation Industry Association. it is growing at more than 30 per cent. I must say. it‟s time to explore the power circuit . integration and servicing.000 to Rs 200. The main metric is grip on control. there is automation. you need to have expertise to survive in the global-quality working environment of automation. Notably. And if you consider technology. instrumentation and maintenance related solutions will be automatically on your fingertips. we can convert a much larger percentage of the emerging manpower into more enriching careers. the salary is on the higher side for design section. And if you grab an international opportunity.000 available engineering graduates are ready to be deployed in this industry and efforts to increase the figure need to be made. the automation industry is offering a salary in the range of Rs 500. design engineering. The industry employs almost 50. It may be a human gene analysis laboratory or a locomotive workshop.000-Rs 400. Even in this time of economic downturn. Exciting and technically satisfying careers can be pursued in the field of technical marketing. And as a professional you are expected to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to design practical control loop as per that metric. The automation field is specifically suitable for engineering professionals with multidisciplinary as well as project management interests.000 per annum. If you can achieve these. The five-year forecast shows healthy trends and the industry will be requiring more technical graduates— both from polytechnics and engineering colleges —to join the industry. salaries are proportional to the cost of the projects.000 professionals today. project management. the minimum salary may be in the range of Rs 2 million per annum within just about five years. a fresh engineering passout may start at Rs 300.” adds Wadhwa. According to Wadhwa. In most cases.000 per annum. such as project engineering. Groom for automation Now that you have received enough boosters about the opportunities to be grabbed in the automation field. Science and engineering graduates having an aptitude for machine control will find space for a fulfilling professional career here. Since the automation industry comprises fairly large and mature companies with highly . However. By transferring global quality learning processes. Money matters Speaking of salary prospects. “This demand will be at least double in the next three years.” said Anup Wadhwa. You could start at a junior level as part of a major project and grow to become a project leader in 10-12 years‟ time frame. To make maximum use of the situation.000 to Rs 1 million per annum for professionals with five to seven years of experience. director.

a controller and a final control element. Again. A simple process control loop consists of three elements: a measurement system. The skill requirements are vast and there is room for professionals for product design and development. Macintosh or workstation) and devices used in industrial automation applications such as controllers. Next. Both types of controllers have their respective pros and cons. like final control elements. electrical. You are not expected to know everything but your learn-ability levels should be high as a lot of training would essentially take place on the job. It refers to a wide range of hardware and software products and protocols used to communicate between standard computer platforms (PC. However. Forget the analogue versus digital controversy. How to control the control loop? Keep in mind that automation is the use of control systems (such as numerical control. These days. however. instrumentation. digital controllers are not continuous. these use processors to calculate the output based on the measured values.technical processes. the controllers can do a lot more. project engineering. product management. . Understand the controllers from both the theoretical and practical point of view. to control industrial machinery and processes. along with other applications of information technology (such as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing). With regards to industrialisation. These were used to execute PID control functions. 80 to 90 per cent of the controllers used in India are still PID controllers. Professionals who have a superior understanding of electronics. controllers were usually single-loop proportional-integralderivative (PID) controllers. let me share some basics of automation beyond programmable logic control (PLC) and SCADA. programmable logic control and other industrial control systems). Before the advent of computers. Since they do not have moving parts. recruiters are looking for such competencies as interpersonal skills and drive for end results down the ranks. Because of the technology-driven nature of this field. automation greatly reduces the human sensory and mental requirements. these moving parts are subjected to wear and tear over time and that causes the response of the process to be somewhat different with time. Instead. professionals must at all times keep themselves abreast of the latest improvements and technological upgradations that are taking place. Don‟t get nervous. this reflects on the manpower needs as well. marketing and sales. But analogue controllers control continuously. they are not susceptible to wear and tear with time. Analogue controllers are based on mechanical parts that cause changes to the process via the final control element. Digital controllers do not have mechanical moving parts. mechanical and robotics engineering are required among others. Automation is a very technical field and therefore domain expertise and knowledge of processes is very important. In additional to technical skills. While mechanisation provided human operators with machinery to assist them in the physical requirements of their work. thereby reducing the need for human intervention. instead of narrowly focusing on their departmental concerns. automation is a step beyond mechanisation. sales.

Originally based on Microsoft‟s OLE COM (component object model) and DCOM (distributed component object model) technologies. learn to use OPC—„OLE (object linking and embedding technology) for process control. the final control element is the control valve. Therefore. more often than not.The next thing you need to know is the measurement system. it is now possible to do inferential measurements. These benefits are real and tangible. The original OPC Data Access used to move real-time data from PLCs. technical reliability is assured. So standards for alarms and events. historical data and batch data were launched. they have made measurements all the more important. interfaces and methods for use in process control and manufacturing automation applications to facilitate interoperability. upon computer industry standards. however. In process plants. It was quickly realised that communicating other types of data could benefit from standardisation. The automation industry is growing 6-8 per cent globally. Final control elements can refer to three things: control valves. although these are applicable to a large extent to dampers and in some cases variable-speed drives as well. With the advent of computers. How to standardise the control? For starters. It should. it is growing at more than 30 per cent The issues relating to final control elements are most relevant to control valves. which means telling the value of a parameter without actually measuring it physically. rather than rendering measurements redundant. the specification defined a standard set of objects. distributed control systems and other control devices to human machine interface and other display clients.‟ It is a series of standards‟ specifications. The Data Access 3 specification is now a Release Candidate. It leverages earlier versions while improving the browsing capabilities and incorporating XML-DA . In the context of process control. controller decisions are based on measurements of process parameters. Additionally. be remembered that inferential measurement algorithms are also based on physical measurements. The first standard—originally called the OPC specification and now the Data Access specification —resulted from the collaboration of a number of leading worldwide automation suppliers working in cooperation with Microsoft. in turn. variable-speed drives and dampers. you need to know the current and emerging OPC specifications and their applicability. The original specification standardised the acquisition of process data. Try to realise the practical utilities of the standardisations—the user‟s project cycle is shorter using standardised software components and their cost is lower. So try to get a clear idea about the instrumentation part of the control valve . whereas in countries like india and China. Because the OPC standards are based.

How to communicate for better control? Although computers. multidrop commu-nication—FieldBus. twoway.Schema. informational messages and tracking/ auditing messages. in the future. It provides interfaces for the exchange of equipment capabilities (corresponding to the S88. Moreover. while a value of 20 mA might correspond to a 1000GPM flow value. The ultimate solution. OPC Historical Data Access provides access to data already stored. In two-way communications. These include process alarms. diagnostic and monitoring/management services. switches. the 4-20mA standard will be replaced with a digital. most end devices (valves. etc) still use analogue signals. a separate cable needs to be run between the end device and the control system because only a single analogue signal can be represented on the circuit. All these commands allow the users to identify. You need to know the reason behind that. all standardisations ensure secured mode of operation —OPC Security specifies how to control client access to servers in order to protect this sensitive information and to guard against unauthorised modification of process parameters. OPC Alarms & Events provides alarm and event notifications on demand (in contrast to the continuous data flow of Data Access). pressure transducers. PLCs and remote terminal units communicate with each other digitally.‟ But keep in mind.01 physical model) and current operating conditions. send and monitor control commands which execute on a device. With analogue devices. It provides multi-vendor interoperability. the presence of a signal might represent a „closed‟ or „alarm‟ condition. OPC Batch specification carries the OPC philosophy to the specialised needs of batch processes. an analogue value of 4 mA might correspond to a pressure of no flow. From a simple serial data logging system to a complex SCADA system. is to be able to connect a reasonable number of sensors all located in the same area to the same cable. With discrete devices. For example. historical archives can be retrieved in a uniform manner. operator actions. while the absence of a signal might represent „open‟ or „normal. The multidrop capability of a FieldBus results in the most immediate cost savings for users. It also adds remote configuration. Although this . Modern distributed systems partially solve this problem by locating remote multiplexing devices out in the field. however. For example. Client-to-server and server-toserver communication across Ethernet fieldbus networks is facilitated by OPC Data exchange. the calibration constants associated with a particular sensor can now be stored directly in the device itself and changed as needed. a value can not only be read from the end device but also be written to the device.

it is always advisable to learn advanced process control with respect to the underlying theory. cost savings ranging from 2 to 6 per cent of the operating cost are observed with the implementation of advanced controls. to detect whether the process observed is under control. the proliferation of so-called advanced control methodologies can only be attributed to the advances made in the electronics industry. Also. advanced control is synonymous with the implementation of computer-based technologies. advanced process control meant any algorithm or strategy that deviated from the classical three-term PID controller. Model predictive control (MPC) is widely adopted in the process industry as an effective means to deal with large. statistical process control is a method for achieving quality control in manufacturing processes. Nowadays. possibly subject to constraints on the manipulated inputs and outputs. Initially. It is a set of methods using statistical tools such as mean. The advent of computers offered more convenient alternatives—feed forward control. Indeed. multivariable control and optimal process control. especially in the development of low-cost digital computational devices (circa 1970). the benefits that its applications will bring and projections of future trends. implementation studies. energy consumption. The main idea of MPC is to choose the control action by repeatedly solving online an optimal control problem. signal processing. Usually.will not happen overnight. You should regard advanced control as more than just the use of a multiprocessor computers or stateof-the-art software environments. where the future behaviour is computed . Knowledge of different controlling algorithms is always nice to have. These benefits are clearly significant and achieved by increasing process efficiency. process safety. hence allowing plants to be operated closer to their designed capacity. you should be prepared to accept this tectonic shift in technology. The algorithms of control Remember that control systems run according to the logical flow of the operating program. It describes a practice. variance and others. Know advanced processcontrol To get an edge over your competitors. environmental emissions. multivariable constrained control problems. product quality. try to understand the impact of advanced process control on product yield. statistics. For example. Realise the actual logic behind the control systems. which draws upon elements from many disciplines ranging from control engineering. This aims at minimising a performance criterion over a future horizon. etc. decision theory and artificial intelligence to hardware and software engineering. Neither does it refer to the singular use of sophisticated control algorithms.

These types of controllers are not designed to handle the effects of loop interactions. tuning each loop for maximum performance may result in system instability when operating in a closed-loop mode. So before choosing a course. It overcomes the debilitating problems of delayed feedback by using predicted future states of the output for control. Loops that have single-input single-output (SISO) controllers may therefore not be suitable for these types of applications. the industry accreditation and also the course curriculum. Dynamic matrix control is also a popular model-based control algorithm. the certification system. however.according to a model of the plant. If you feel that you lag behind due to lack of practical exposure. Perhaps the best known technique for controlling systems with large time-delays is the Smith Predictor. Try to understand how a model-based controller can be modified to accommodate multivariable systems. Depending upon the inter-relationship of the process variables. There are. I emphasise the word „strategically‟ because that is what decides whether you will get the job passport or your money will go down the drain. Don‟t worry. PID-type controllers do not perform well when applied to systems with significant timedelay. Controller-loop interaction exists in such a way that the action of one controller affects other loops in a multiloop system. These are useful for predictive constrained control. Predictive controllers can also be embedded within an adaptive framework. . The process model is stored in a matrix of step or impulse response coefficients. The final bend It is possible that your awareness about most of the aforementioned terms is from a notional perspective only. You can get a holistic overview of „chip to ship‟ of a control loop onl y after completing a project. This model is used in parallel with the online process in order to predict future output values based on the past inputs and current measurements. many other model-based control strategies that have dead-time compensation properties. Utilise your industrial training or final -year project to your advantage. a strategically chosen course may be the solution. judge the reputation of the institute. Nearly all of Indian institutes are woefully lagging in terms of providing students with such opportunities. Most processes require monitoring of more than one variable. Currently. some commercial controllers have Smith Predictors as programmable blocks.

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