Advanced Process Control

Advanced process control is a general term that refers to areas where novel process control engineering can be applied in order to increase an operation’s performance.  It applies to control difficulties that are not typically encountered by site personnel and are therefore solved using advanced control techniques. These control difficulties result from elements such as multivariable interaction, complex or non-linear process dynamics, high measurement uncertainty, long measurement delay, infrequent measurements etc. Blue Nickel applies advanced process control to push plant control as close as possible to the operating limit where maximum potential profits are realised. A two-step approach is followed to achieve this. Firstly the process is stabilised, after which optimal set points are continuously calculated to keep the process in an optimal state.

Numerous technologies are utilised as part of our advanced process control solutions like model predictive control (MPC), multivariable control, process modelling and simulation, and online optimisation algorithms. Blue Nickel has developed a robust control system design technique that ensures implementation of an optimal control strategy with minimum disturbances to the plant during control system commissioning. Model predictive control is the most widely used controller type for advanced process control solutions. Blue Nickel has developed its own MPC controller called Psibyl, which has some unique features tailored for process control solutions in the minerals processing industry. Psibyl’s system identification component extracts dynamic process models which is used in the MPC algorithm.

Capabilities of our APC solutions include:

  • Dynamic model development with Psibyl’s system identification tool
  • Remote monitoring and online tuning of PID and APC controllers utilising OptoOne
  • Advanced multivariable control techniques like MPC, fuzzy logic, rule based control, internal model control (IMC), Smith Predictor, modified PID control techniques like gain scheduling
  • Down the bank flotation level stabilisation control
  • Milling and crushing circuit intelligent control
  • Advanced control and optimisation of kilns
  • Dynamic process models and circuit simulations
  • Soft sensors or inferential measurements where field instrument are not available or has failed
  • G2 control system development and support

Blue Nickel has successfully integrated APC solutions into flotation, milling, crushing, kilns, autoclave and abatement equipment, hot gas generators as well as drying and evaporating processes.  These solutions continue to create significant value for our clients today. Benefits resulting from process control improvements include:

  • Improved process and energy efficiency
  • Improved throughput
  • Improved product quality