Loop Tuning Expertise in Your Pocket

Some of the more popular posts here on the blog involve loop tuning. Our Process Optimization category is filled with more than 150 posts featuring the wisdom of many experienced practitioners.

Gregory K. McMillan


Good Tuning: A Pocket GuideOne extremely proficient practitioner and prolific author, Greg McMillan has an updated work on loop tuning, Good Tuning: A Pocket Guide, 4th edition (ISA member price).

Greg wrote it for those that get their hands on loop tuning—instrument, process control and process engineers.

The pocket guide is a portable, concise summary of all the practical considerations for tuning loops and includes step-by-step descriptions of the three best field-proven tuning procedures. It also includes a table of typical tuning settings, a summary of valve performance problems, logic diagrams for trouble-shooting, and more than 70 “rule of thumb.”

Greg opens by challenging some of common myths such as, “It is always best to include one tuning method” and “Controller tuning settings can be computed precisely.” No and no by the way…

For those new to tuning, there are many complications which need to be considered. For instance, direct-acting controller responses are used for reverse-acting processes, unless the valve action increases to close (fail open). Having the handy pocket guide and a table in it Greg provides helps you navigate these complications successfully.

Chapters in the book include:

  1. Best of the Basics
  2. Tuning Settings and Methods
  3. Measurements and Valves
  4. Control Considerations
  5. Troubleshooting
  6. Tuning requirements for various applications (includes: batch control, blending, boilers, coil and jackets, compressors, crystallizers, distillation columns, dryers, evaporators, extruders, fermenters, heat exchangers, neutralizers, reactors, remote cascade, sheets and webs).
  7. Adaptive Control
  8. Process Dynamics
  9. PID Checklist

There are also additional appendices for terms, PID control basics, control loop performance and difficult situation management. I counted 76 rules of thumb that this knowledge and experience were boiled down into.

I hope if you’re new to process optimization and control or perhaps a little rusty, you’ll get your hands on this pocket guide and become the expert that others in your organization seek out.

You can also connect and interact with other process optimization experts in the Improve & Modernize group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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