This paper summarizes an industrial necessities and study of the application of neural networks in the area of process monitoring and control. Descriptions of the major activities undertaken in this programmed, which included the application of neural networks for fault detection in a nitrification process and the model based predictive control of a gasoline engine are provided. The paper also describes some of the practical difficulties that were experienced while applying neural networks and lists the important lessons that were learned through the completion of this project. The main conclusion from the work was that neural networks are capable of improving industrial process monitoring and control systems. However the level of improvement must be analyzed on a problem specific basis and in many applications the use of neural networks is essential.

1.1 Process monitoring and control systems applications The pressure on the Process Industries to improve yield, reduce wastage, eliminate toxins and above all increase profits makes it essential to increase the efficiency of process operations. One possible approach for achieving this is through the improvement of existing process monitoring and control systems. Many process monitoring and control schemes are based upon a representation of the dynamic relationship between cause and effect variables. In such schemes, this representation is typically approximated using some form of linear dynamic model, such as finite impulse response (FIR), autoregressive with exogenous variable (ARX) and autoregressive, moving average with exogeneous variable (ARMAX) models. Once determined, the dynamic process model of the system can be integrated within a variety of process monitoring and control algorithms. In process control, for example, the model can be incorporated within a model based predictive control (MBPC) algorithm, such as Generalised Predictive Control. Alternatively, for process monitoring, the residuals (prediction errors) from such models can be analyzed to detect abnormal operation. Such monitoring and control schemes have found widespread application in industry and have led to significant improvements in process operations. Unfortunately, the models employed within the schemes tend to be linear in form. Although linear models can provide acceptable performance for many systems, they may be unsuitable in the presence of significant nonlinearities. For such systems it may be beneficial to employ a model that reflects the nonlinear relationship between cause and effect variables. Preliminary studies have indicated that artificial neural networks (ANNs) may provide a generic, non-linear solution for such systems. As with standard linear modelling techniques, ANNs are capable of approximating the dynamic relationships between cause and effect variables. In contrast to linear techniques however, ANNs offer the benefit of being able to capture non-linear relationships. Since the performance of process monitoring and control algorithms are dependent upon the precision of the model embedded within them, ANN models have the potential to provide benefits to these algorithms when applied to nonlinear systems.

Figure-1 Basic Perceptron Model.

A mechanistic model derived from first principles is theoretically the most accurate model that can be developed for any system. Unfortunately, the resources required to develop such a model for even the simplest of systems tends to prohibit their use. Consequently engineers tend to rely on system identification techniques to establish process models. The most common approaches to system identification include dynamic process models such as ARX and ARMAX, which are linear in form. The majority of process systems however contain varying degrees of non-linearity that can reduce the accuracy of such models. To recover this loss in prediction accuracy many research projects in recent years have focused on the use of neural networks as a tool for system identification. As with linear models, ANNs provide a description of the relationship between cause and effect variables. The benefit ANNs offer over linear models is that they are capable of modelling nonlinear relationships. In fact studies have shown them to be capable of modelling any non-linear function to arbitrary accuracy. Although there exist many different ANN structures, they do possess some common features. They are generally composed of numerous processing elements, termed nodes, which are arranged together to form a network. The most commonly used processing element is one, which weights the input signals and then sums them together with a bias term. The neuron

output is then obtained by passing the summed, weighted inputs through a non-linear activation function, such as the hyperbolic tangent. A common type of ANN model used in many applications is the feed forward network. This type of network comprises an input layer where input information is presented to the network, one or more hidden layers where neuron processing takes place and an output layer from which the network outputs are obtained. It is termed a feed forward network because the outputs from one layer are fed forward as inputs to the subsequent layer. The topology of such layered networks is usually described according to the number of nodes in each layer. For example, a network with 2 inputs, 1 hidden layer with 4 nodes and 1 output is referred to as a 2-4-1 network. This basic feedforward network is useful for many applications, however, a number of modifications have been proposed to improve its suitability for application to process systems.

Figure-2 Non-linear optimization and transform neural network model. In particular, the incorporation of a dynamic element into the network is important for the modeling of dynamic data. One approach for introducing dynamics is to adopt the philosophy of ARMAX models and use time lagged data in the model. Another possibility is to introduce dynamics at a localized level by passing the outputs of the network nodes through first order low pass filters in what is referred to as a filter based network. Alternative structures, known as recurrent networks, incorporate feedback elements within the network. A simple form of recurrent structure is the globally recurrent network, which feeds back the output of the model to the input layer. In this study filter based, globally recurrent and time lagged neural networks were all applied.

Fully recurrent networks were not used due to the excessive times required to develop the model. All the neural network structures studied in this work contained a direct linear link between the input and output nodes. The reason for this is that it has been demonstrated that ANNs are often unable to accurately represent linear relationships. Whilst it could be argued that if the relationship between cause and effect variables is linear then a linear model should be used, it can be expected that in a multi-input, multioutput system there will exist both linear and non-linear relationships between cause and effect variables. Noticeable improvements in modelling accuracy were observed in many of the applications detailed in this paper through the inclusion of such a link. The architecture of a neural network refers to the particular type of neural network that is being used, for example feedforward, recurrent or filter based network. Once this architecture has been specified the network must be trained. The issue of training is a non-linear optimisation problem, the aim being to adjust the weights in the network to minimise a cost function based on the squared prediction error over a set of process data, termed training data. Literature abounds with various algorithms for the training of neural networks. In this study both backpropagation and the second order Levenberg-Marquardt search direction method were successfully employed. It is worth noting that besides speed of training, (the Levenberg-Marquardt technique was noticeably faster than Backpropagation) no difference was observed in the prediction accuracy of models resulting from either of these training techniques.

Figure-3 Basic Model of Perceptron.

These applications were typically chosen because studies involving traditional control and monitoring techniques had proved unsuccessful. A brief description of the main applications studied are provided below. 3.1 Process Descriptions Nitrification Process Nitrification is the process whereby highly active liquid waste, obtained in the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel elements, is encapsulated in glass to form solid blocks of waste for safe and convenient storage. The liquid waste, along with glass frit, flows into a vessel, known as a melter, which is heated by four induction coils. When the level of waste reaches a certain point in the melter the contents are discharged to a storage container and sent to product store in an operation known as pouring. Heat transfer mechanisms in the melter are complex and during pouring there is an increase in the transfer of heat from the vessel walls to the melt. The control system regulating the temperature in the vessel is relatively crude and is slow to respond to this effect and consequently the temperature tends to vary considerably during operation. The large thermal disturbance experienced during pouring exert significant thermal stresses on the walls of the melter vessel and have resulted in a number of the vessels fracturing before their full life expectancy has been reached. Such fractures result in increased downtime costs as well as extra costs incurred in the disposal of the radioactive vessel itself. The objective for this study was to firstly develop an accurate model of the process and then to integrate this model into a process monitoring scheme capable of detecting signs of imminent vessel failure.

Figure-4 Activated neuron is fired.

Polymer Extrusion Process The polymer extrusion process is responsible for coating a layer of polymer onto copper wire. The system comprises an induction-heated barrel containing an archimedal screw. A base polymer is introduced into the barrel, along with a cocktail of chemical additives, known as monosil. The monosil and polymer are forced along the length of the barrel by the archimedal screw, reacting to produce a polymer with specific properties, which is coated onto a wire cable. The quality of the polymer product, measured principally in terms of its tensile strength, is influenced by a variety of variables such as the speed at which the screw rotates (screw speed), operating temperature and monosil dose rate. Presently, the only reliable method for determining the quality of the polymer coating is through destructive testing 24 hours after production. This means that it is possible for large quantities of substandard material to be produced before it is ever detected. To improve quality management on this process BICC have invested heavily into finding alternative methods for measuring the polymer quality. They have recently determined that the viscosity of the polymer as it exits the extruder provides an approximate measure of the ultimate tensile strength of the polymer. Consequently, through the use of a rheometer, the viscosity and, through inference, the tensile strength of the polymer can be measured online. Unfortunately, the expense associated with the installation of rheometers to all the extruders BICC Cables operate worldwide means that this approach is unsuitable. The objective of this project was therefore to develop an ANN inferential estimator capable of predicting the viscosity of the polymer product and to then incorporate this model within an automatic control system for the process. This project was undertaken on a pilot scale extrusion process, with a rheometer attached. The pilot scale extruder was approximately half the size of a typical industrial extruder. 3.2 Gasoline Engine To meet ever more stringent legislation regarding emission levels from gasoline engines, it is necessary for the air-fuel ratio (AFR) in the engine to be kept as close as possible to the stoichiometric mix. The control of the AFR is complicated significantly by the dynamics in gasoline engines, which contain large non-linearities and varying time delays and time constants.

Current state of the art techniques for controlling AFR employ adaptive linear model based controllers. Although such controllers have proved relatively successful, problems are encountered during large transients when it takes time for the linear model to adapt to the new operating conditions. Since an ANN is capable of identifying the nonlinearities in the system, it will not need to adapt during transients and should therefore be better able to control the AFR. The aim of this project was therefore to develop an ANN model of the gasoline engine and then incorporate this model within an automated control system to regulate the AFR.

Thames Water utilize a rapid gravity filtration process during the treatment of drinking water. The process involves passing water through a filter bed of sand that traps suspended particles. The filtration process is enhanced through the addition of coagulants and the pre-injection of ozone gas. Precise dosing of the coagulant is critical to the performance of the filters. Too little causes trends in the turbidity of the incoming water to pass through into the filtrate and too much increases the iron residual, resulting in reduced filter run times and unnecessary expense. The aim of this work was to optimise the operation of the filtration process. Specifically plant operations required a system that could maximize output water quality and filter run length and minimize coagulant and ozone dosage. As a first step an ANN model was to be developed to predict the output water quality and filter run length, based upon process measurements. This model could then be incorporated into an optimization routine that could be used to minimize a cost function. This cost would be a function of output water quality, filter run length and the coagulant and ozone dosing rates. Other problems, which were tackled during the initiative, were the forecasting of drinking water demand for Severn Trent Water, the prediction of chemical dosing levels for drinking water for Northwest Water and the optimization of lift gas flow rates for Texaco. In addition, the ability of ANNs to model a series of generic problems encountered in process systems, such as variable time delays and time constants was investigated.

The first phase for each of the projects was to acquire process data suitable for model development. As with linear models it is important that the data used to develop the process models is sufficiently exciting to extract accurate cause and effect relationships. For some of the systems investigated it was found that historical data was suitably exciting for identification purposes. However, in other cases, such as the extrusion process, historical process data was unavailable. For these systems trial runs were organised so that process data could be collected. The trial runs took the form of either multi-level pseudo random signals (PRS) or multi-level step tests. A point worth noting is that unlike linear models, data collected during pseudo random binary signal (PRBS) testing is unsuitable for non-linear identification purposes. It is important to consider the effects of feedback controllers when collecting data. If the model is to be used for control purposes then using data collected under closed loop operation may introduce problems. If however the model is to be used for monitoring purposes then the process data should be collected with the system in its standard configuration. For example if the system typically operates in closed loop then the data should be collected in closed loop operation. In this study the data collected for the control applications were obtained during open loop multi-level step tests. As with conventional linear modelling, the performance of the developed neural network is very much dependent upon the amount of process data collected and used during training. For each application investigated here all available data was utilised. This amounted to data collected during a trial run involving 10 step changes per variable for the BICC extrusion process to over two years of data for the Thames Water filtration process. Whilst two years of data may seem exceptional, the filtration application is seasonally affected and therefore two years of data was considered to be the minimum requirement. Once the data was collected it was divided into three sets; the training data set comprised half the available data and the remaining data was split evenly between testing and validating data sets. Once the process data was collected, it was cleaned and analyzed. Noise levels on each of the data sets were not found to be excessive, however, there were spurious measurements in most data sets. Spurious data were commonly caused by erroneous signals from measuring devices and were removed by linear

interpolation using reliable process measurements taken before and after the erroneous signals. Following the cleaning of the process data, it was analyzed to determine the cause and effect variables and the major time constants and time delays present in the systems. The tools used for this analysis included cross-correlation and multivariable techniques such as principal component analysis and principal component regression. The results from these analyses were subsequently discussed and validated with process operators and engineers. Such discussions proved extremely useful and provided greater insight into the operation of the process than was possible with the data analysis techniques alone.

The investigation detailed in this paper met its objectives in analysing in detail the major issues involved in applying neural network technology within the process industries. It may be considered that the effort during this project has been too focused on neural networks. While brief comparisons with linear techniques have been made, little attention was given to the issue of whether neural networks were an acceptable or preferred solution overall. Whilst neural networks may provide greater modeling accuracy than their linear counterparts, stability is an important issue and until it is resolved some resistance to process control solutions based upon neural networks is likely to remain. Adaptive control applications are seen as one area where neural networks have much to offer. The implications of allowing neural network models to adapt on-line were covered briefly during this project. In particular the ability of a neural network to adapt to the continuous dynamic changes in a gasoline engine was studied23. Again, further research is required in this area to increase the credibility of adaptive neural network solutions. The future of neural networks not only lies in their explicit use, but their use in conjunction with other advanced technologies. The fusion of neural networks and fuzzy logic in the form of neurofuzzy techniques is seen by many as the most promising way ahead for advanced process monitoring and control applications32. An alternative field that also offers great potential is hybrid modelling, an identification methodology that complements simplified mechanistic models with either linear or nonlinear data based

models33. The potential for the application for neural network technology in the process industries is vast. The ability of neural networks to capture and model process dynamics and severe process nonlinearities makes them powerful tools in model based control and monitoring. This investigation has looked in detail at the practical and theoretical issues associated with using neural networks for such application and this paper should provide readers with an insight into the problems and benefits encountered when exploiting the technology.

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