Control Engineering's Process Control Newsletter for November 2000


In this issue:

The 'Digital Divide'

In 1880 president James Garfield said, 'Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.'

Education is at the forefront of many discussions today, and many claim the Internet, with its nearly instant access to a wealth of information, is key to improving education to the masses. But many forget, if you can't afford Internet access to the information, it doesn't exist. In some parts of the country, access might be available through libraries, schools, colleges, universities, and other public outlets, but in each example a variety of restrictions apply.

Michael Fleisher, ceo of Gartner Group (Sanford, Conn.), says, 'What is being created is a 'Digital Divide' between those who can afford access and those who can't and unless we address it, the repercussions could last through future generations. The unfair access to the Internet has implications that reach to the very social and economic core of our nation.'

To read the free report and learn more about Mr. Fleisher's Digital Divide presentation made before Congress, visit:

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Ten vendors receive ETV verification

Congratulations to the ten vendor companies with commercially available air and water monitoring technologies that recently received Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ETV was established to accelerate the use of improved, cost-effective environmental technologies through third-party verification testing. The verification statements provide a summary of the performance characteristics of the monitors as verified under specific, pre-determined criteria and appropriate quality assurance procedures.

ETV encourages vendors to use the verification statements and reports of test results as part of their marketing message and to provide valuable information to possible users of the technologies, as well as to local, state, and federal agencies responsible for issuing permits.

Visit to read copies of verification statements, reports, and technology profiles.

The technologies and vendor companies are:

Three turbidimeters:

Three portable NO/NO 2 analyzers:

Four optical open-path air monitors:

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PID control information sources

At least once a month I receive an e-mail asking me to recommend tuning parameters for a control loop. Almost universally there is no information about the dynamics of the process the e-mail author is trying to control. That tells me there are still a lot of folks in need of material, tools, and education on applying basic PID control; so I did some checking. A search for 'PID control' on Control Engineering's site at will turn up 100 articles and news items containing PID control. A similar search using the Copernic 2000 search tool produced 66 Internet hits containing the term 'PID control.'

One of those 66 hits results in a visit to the University of Texas (Austin, Tex.) web site, and eventually to a process control game called TANKSPILL. TANKSPILL was developed by Norwegian University chemical engineering professor Sigurd Skogestad and Erik Wolff and simulates a tank with a gas and liquid feed. Designed to be a process control game, the challenge is to keep the pressure and liquid level in the tank at defined values by manipulating the values of the streams leaving the tank for as long as you can. TANKSPILLL introduces the dynamics of interacting processes in a game like environment that runs on just about any personal computer with Microsoft Windows. You begin with 1,000 points and each time the level and pressure deviate from setpoint, you lose points.

To learn more about TANKSPILL and obtain a free copy visit and complete the necessary paperwork.

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November in Control Engineering

Cover: New Developments in CNC
CNCs (Computer Numerical Controls) no longer are stand-alone cell controllers, but often integrate PC and machine control technologies, becoming an integral part of discrete manufacturing automation. This includes the latest advancements from IMTS 2000 in Chicago.

Software Integration across Sites
Mergers, acquisitions, and links into the supply chain can increase the numbers of types and versions of automation and control software used in an organization. Here's practical knowledge about assessing software types, versions, integration, and/or migration

Predicting Savings of Asset Management Solutions
Asset management technologies offer the potential to help companies in the process industries stem the high cost of maintenance by ensuring production equipment is maintained for maximum performance at minimum cost. But can asset management software save money in an already efficiently run plant? And if so, how much can be saved? This article outlines how to calculate the savings intelligent instrumentation can deliver for a specific application.

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

Technology Update: Submersible Medium-Voltage Drives
Medium-voltage (MV) ac drives are heading under water to bring higher efficiencies to subsea oil and gas production, as part of the Subsea Electrical Power Distribution System project. Developments in MV drives to make this exciting and challenging technology a reality will be covered.

Back to Basics: pH Sensing
Here's a primer on pH sensing principles, methods, and technologies.

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Dave's Public Service Announcement

The University of Cambridge's (UK) department of engineering host a web site exclusively for control. (There is a mirror site at California's Cal Tech.) This site provides information and links to other sites throughout the world involved in control. The next time you've got a few minutes, visit or . It might just provide the control solution you've been looking for.

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