Control Engineering's Process Control Newsletter for August 2001


In this issue:


Online and self-paced training

If we aren't in a recession, we sure are close as witnessed by the layoffs, cut back's, belt-tightening, and downturn in manufacturing that's occurring across the country, and we all know one of the first things trimmed is conference and training budgets and their related travel expenses. But that doesn't have to mean no training, it just means you can't travel to attend a conference or a training course. With that in mind, I spent some time visiting a variety of web sites to see what online and self-paced training courses are available. Here's what I found.

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When you reach ABB Virtual Learning Center, you can take online courses on all sorts of topics including computer skills, such as Lotus Notes, UNIX, TCP/IP, and Microsoft NT and 2000. If you're looking for personal development courses, such as planning, problem solving, or stress survival you will find them on the ABB Virtual Learning Center site. For more information, visit!OpenDocument


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The American Institute of Chemical Engineering offers a CD-ROM titled 'Distillation in Practice.' Since this is a vendor neutral tutorial, it has broad application to operators and engineers. There are eight chapters covering beginning principles, the distillation process, overall system design, tray column design, packed column design, installation, startup, and shutdown, troubleshooting, and column control. For more information visit

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Emerson Process Management:

At Emerson Process Management's site, I found the expected product specific training material as well as several generalized course topics. Among the generalized video and computer based training material available are fundamentals of process control, advanced process control, fundamentals of process measurement, pressure regulator technology, fundamentals of control valve engineering, control valve and actuator maintenance, fundamentals of control valve positioners, transmitter calibration techniques, and electro-hydraulic actuator operation and maintenance. To learn more, visit

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If your training needs are in the area of safety systems, you might want to visit and take a look at the more than 40 online training lessons including Introduction to Safety Instrumented Systems, The Safety Lifecycle, Safety System Justification, SIL Verification, Basic Reliability Engineering, Fault Trees, SIS On-line Testing and many more.

Each lesson is an Internet based power point presentation with audio files and video clips, including slides and notes that can be downloaded and studied. Several of the lessons are focused on the TÜV Certified Functional Safety Expert examination.


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If you visit ExperTune and fill out a registration form, they will send their free training CD titled, '5 Steps to Diagnose and Fix Process Control Problems.'

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Honeywell/MyPlant: offers five online courses, advanced distillation operations, centrifugal compressor operations, dual fired heater operations, fluidized catalytic cracking operations, and steam utilities.

To learn more, visit

If you like to play computer games but your boss won't let you play at work, take a look at the shadow plant operator challenge. The challenge is to take a process already running in steady state and increase throughput in 20 minutes or less. There are histograms, alarms, and random instrument failures. The process is a debutanizer column, but similar applications can be found in pulp and paper, chemical, pharmaceutical, power generation, and others. This is a timed exercise and you even get to put your initials on the 'winners' list...assuming you win.

To learn more and then take the challenge, visit


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ISA Online:

TheThe Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA) offers both online and self-paced training material. Basic process control series of online courses include feedback control, process control modes, process characteristics, process variables, instrumentation symbols, instrument loop diagrams, piping and instrumentation drawings, mechanical connections, and electrical connections. ISA also indicates a process measurement series will be available later this year covering such topics as temperature, pressure, level, and flow.

For more information about ISA's online training, visit,2200,0,00.html .

Several of the courses offered in the basic process control series are also available on CD-ROM or if you prefer watching a video and using a workbook, checkout ISA's videotape training material including batch control series, boiler control series, continuous process control series, and control valves and actuator series.

For more information about ISA's CD-ROM and video training material, visit,2699,0,00.html

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Invensys - Foxboro:

A visit to Invensys/Foxboro's web site reveals several Foxboro product related online training opportunities along with seminars titled process control systems application, design, and tuning, and another titled understanding dynamic performance monitoring. One seminar being offered by Foxboro that's different than any others I found is titled 'Presentation of Self' and covers leadership credibility, communication, teaming, cultural imperatives, and learning how to learn. To learn more, visit

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Rockwell Software:

Rockwell's training is listed at where a list of computer based Rockwell product related software courses plus a longer list of Microsoft courses including Windows 2000 Active Directory and Upgrading to Windows 2000 all available for sale.

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Siemens Energy and Automation:

If you're in need of basic training in electricity, control components, sensors, load centers, or safety switches and you have no money to spend there is still training opportunities. Visit and select from the pulldown menu on the right side titled 'Available online.' You won't become a licensed electrician or sensor expert by working your way through these courses, but you're bound to learn something; and just in case you don't think you can learn something, try taking the exam before you take the course.

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I'm sure I missed more sites than I mentioned, and for those who felt slighted, simply forward ( ) a brief description of the generic training material you offer along with the URL and I'll update the online version of this e-newsletter to include those new sources.

Of course another way to learn is to attend webcast and virtual conferences and trade shows.


FOUNDATION Fieldbus webcast planned for September

On September 28, 2001, Control Engineering Online will present the following webcast: 'FOUNDATION Fieldbus: An Open Architecture for Information Integration.' Sponsored by the Fieldbus Foundation, this webcast will help automation users seeking plant optimization solutions to find a quick path to the many performance advantages of FOUNDATION Fieldbus. Learn more and register for the webcast at:

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Virtual conference and tradeshow planned for October

I know it's a few months off, but this is one of those things you can do now and then when October comes you are ready.

Control Engineering and the Cahners Supply Chain/OEM Group are hosting a two-day online conference and tradeshow, October 17-18. During this FREE event, you can enjoy all the benefits of attending an industry tradeshow, right from your desktop. No traveling, no expenses, no wasted time...just valuable seminars, product information, networking - everything you'd find at a traditional conference or tradeshow - but on the Web. Keynote speakers are Thomas Stallkamp, CEO of MSX International and former president of Chrysler Corp., and James McNerney, CEO of 3M Corp.

Visit to register and qualify to win prizes: laptop, digital camera, and cash!

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Conferences, seminars, and exhibitions

  • August 28-29 American Petroleum Institute PSM Best Practices Workshop in New Orleans, La. Contact Karen Haase at for details.

  • September 10-13 ISA Expo 2001 will be held in Houston, Tex. Visit for details.

  • September 17-20 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Ammonia Safety Symposium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Visit for details.

  • September 25-28 Fisher-Rosemount Users Group Meeting (New Orleans, La.). Visit for details.

  • September 28, 2001, Control Engineering 'FOUNDATION Fieldbus: An Open, Integrated Architecture for Information Integration' webcast. Visit for more information

  • October 7-9, Invensys Process Systems User's Group Conference (Las Vegas, Nev.). Visit for more information.

  • October 17-18, Control Engineering and the Cahners Supply Chain/OEM Group are hosting a two-day online conference and tradeshow. Visit for more information.tion.

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August in Control Engineering

Cover: Level sensing in hostile environments
Level sensing has long been the 'forgotten' process variable, going almost unnoticed until a vessel overflows or a pump self-destructs while running dry. The hostile environments in which level sensors are used most often cause these types of failures. This article will look at what is new in the fight against 'poor working conditions' and applications they are 'thriving' in.

E-Manufacturing for Process Industries
Examples such as, 'Make-to-order at point-of-sale,' 'mimic the semiconductor industry,' and 'look how Dell does manufacturing and replicate it,' are routinely touted as the means of survival for producer businesses in the 21st century. But how realistic is it to produce gasoline at the pump or cookie cutter pharmaceuticals? And what's the less-told story behind Dell's success? This article will examine what parts of these manufacturing examples in process industries can learn, use, adapt, and adopt.

Motion Control Simulation
Simulation plays a key role in implementing cost-effective design of motion control systems. Sophisticated software tools can check out the feasibility and reliability of a motion system early in the project phase, before investing in detailed design and costly parts. More alternative designs can also be evaluated with these tools. The article will examine the process of simulation as it applies specifically to motion control and cover some product examples.

Tailoring a Best-Fit Network
Different networking methods, equipment, software, and fieldbuses work differently in different applications. Here's how you can find the most appropriate, most useful network for your application.

ISA 2001
Events, exhibitors, and products at ISA 2001, Sept. 11-13, in Houston, Tex., will be featured in this preview of the major process industry show. Keywords: Trade shows, conferences, news, trends

Sensors Expo
Significant exhibitors and products at Sensors Expo Fall 2001, Oct. 2-4, Philadelphia, Pa., will be highlighted in this preview article. Keywords: Trade shows, conferences, news, trends

Product Focus: Flowmeters
Original Control Engineering/Cahners research examines trends and user issues with flowmeters. Recent product descriptions from leading suppliers will be included, along with research results.

Back to Basics: Orifice plate installation, practices, and maintenance
Orifice plate flowmeters are one of the most basic differential flowmeter types. However, proper plate installation and maintenance are essential to maintaining its accuracy and reliability. Here's how it's done.

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Six Sigma for Fun and Profit

By now most of you know I have more than a casual interest in applying the Six Sigma process for continuous improvement beyond tracking defective products. I've seen innovative company's apply the Six Sigma process to back-office activities, call center activities, etc. I believe any company who embraces the process will find it worthwhile.

A weekly Six Sigma e-newsletter I receive recently included an article about properly defining product or service defects, units, and opportunities in order to understand customer's critical to quality (CTQ's) requirements. The article defines terms and provides examples. To read the article, visit

Okay, that was the "for profit" part, now for the fun part. On the web site is a process Sigma calculator. You plug in numbers for units, opportunities per unit, total defects, and process Sigma shift and press the button. Since I've been working on my golf game this year (lessons, practice drills, etc.) and I've been tracking simple on-course data of rounds played, fairways and greens hit in regulation, sand saves, and putts, my curiosity got the best of me. I plugged my numbers for greens in regulation into the online calculator and compared my game to the top PGA pro's. I'm hitting greens in regulation at about 3.98 Sigma, the top PGA players are about 4.44 Sigma. When I say it that way, it sounds pretty good. The reality is I'm hitting greens about 60% of the time, they hit greens about 90% of the time. I'm improving, but it's going to be a bit longer before I'm ready to join any of the professional tours, but applying Six Sigma principals to my golf game has already won me a few "friendly wager" bucks.

Hey, you measure fun your way, I'll measure it mine! &SMILE>

If you would like to use the Sigma calculator for fun and profit, visit


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