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IMC Tuning Method

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You are on page 1of 3

Dataforth Corporation

Page 1 of 3

When PI and PID controllers first came to market during the 1930s, there were no clear instructions on how to tune them.

Tuning was done through trial and error and results were inconsistent. This was the situation until 1942, when J. G. Ziegler

and N. B. Nichols from the Taylor Instruments Company published two methods for tuning PID controllers [Ref. 1]. These

tuning rules came into widespread use while Ziegler and Nichols became legends among process control practitioners.

Preamble

Since 1942, well over one hundred controller tuning

methods have been developed, each trying to accomplish

a certain objective or fill a specific niche. One of these

methods is the Internal Model Control (IMC) tuning

method [Ref. 2], sometimes called Lambda tuning. It

offers a stable and robust alternative to other techniques,

such as the famous Ziegler-Nichols method, that usually

aim for speed at the expense of stability. This Application

Note describes how to tune control loops using IMC

tuning rules.

Applicable Process Types

The IMC tuning method was developed for use on selfregulating processes. Most control loops, e.g., flow,

temperature, pressure, speed, and composition, contain

self-regulating processes. One obvious exception is a

level control loop, which contains an integrating process.

A self-regulating process always stabilizes at some point

of equilibrium, which depends on the process design and

the controller output. If the controller output is set to a

different value, the process will respond and stabilize at a

new point of equilibrium (Figure 1).

The IMC tuning method offers the following advantages:

Once tuned using the IMC tuning rules, the

process variable will not overshoot its set point

after a set point change.

The IMC tuning rules are much less sensitive to

possible errors made when determining the

process dead time through step tests. It is easy to

under- or over-estimate dead time on lagdominant processes because of their relatively

short dead times. Ziegler-Nichols and many

other tuning rules can give poor results when the

dead time is measured incorrectly.

The tuning is very robust, meaning that the

control loop will remain stable even if the

process characteristics change substantially from

the ones used for tuning.

An IMC-tuned control loop absorbs disturbances

better and passes less of them on to the rest of

the process. This is a very attractive

characteristic for using IMC tuning in highly

interactive processes.

The user can specify the desired control loop

response time (the closed-loop time constant).

This provides a single tuning factor that can be

used to speed up and slow down the loop

response.

Unfortunately, the IMC tuning method has a drawback,

too. It sets the controllers integral time equal to the

process time constant. If a process has a very long time

constant, the controller will consequently have a very

long integral time. Long integral times make recovery

from process disturbances very slow.

Figure 1

A Self-regulating Process Settles Out at New Level

after Change in Controller Output

The IMC tuning rules are designed for use on a

noninteractive controller algorithm. The tuning rules

presented here are for a PI controller. Although IMC

tuning rules have also been developed for PID controllers,

there is theoretically no difference in the speed of

response of the PI and PID tuning rules, so there is little

sense in adding the complexity of derivative control.

AN124

Dataforth Corporation

Page 2 of 3

Procedure

To apply the IMC tuning rules for a self-regulating

process, follow the steps below. The process variable and

controller output must be time-trended so that

measurements can be taken from them (Figure 2).

1.

2.

Do a step test:

a) Put the controller in manual and wait for the

process to settle out.

b) Make a step change in the controller output

(CO) of a few percent and wait for the

process variable (PV) to settle out. The size

of this step should be large enough that the

PV moves well clear of the process

noise/disturbance level. A total movement of

five times more than the peak-to-peak level

of the noise and disturbances on the PV

should be sufficient.

Determine the process characteristics (refer to

Figure 2):

a) If the PV is not ranged 0-100%, convert the

change in PV to a percentage of the range as

follows:

Change in PV [in %] = change in PV [in

Eng. Units] 100 / (PV upper calibration

limit - PV lower calibration limit)

b) Calculate the Process Gain (gp):

gp = total change in PV [in %] / change in

CO [in %]

c) Find the maximum slope of the PV response

curve. This will be at the point of inflection.

Draw a tangential line through the PV

response curve at this point.

d) Extend this line to intersect with the original

level of the PV before the step in CO.

e) Take note of the time value at this intersection and calculate the Dead Time (td):

td = time difference between the change in

CO and the intersection of the tangential line

and the original PV level

f) If td was measured in seconds, divide it by

60 to convert it to minutes. Since the

Dataforth PID controller uses minutes as its

time base for integral time, all measurements have to be made in minutes.

g) Calculate the value of the PV at 63% of its

total change.

h) On the PV reaction curve, find the time

value at which the PV reaches this level.

i) Calculate the Time Constant ( ):

= time difference between intersection at

the end of dead time, and the PV reaching

63% of its total change

j) If was measured in seconds, divide it by 60

to convert it to minutes.

Figure 2

Step Test for IMC Tuning

3.

good average values for the process

characteristics.

4.

loop time constant, cl) for the control loop.

Generally, the value for cl should be set between

one and three times the value of . Use cl = 3

for a very stable control loop. Using a larger

value for cl will result in a slower control loop,

while using a smaller value will result in a faster

control loop.

5.

equations below.

Controller Gain, Kc =

Integral Time, Ti =

Derivative Time, Td =

For PI Control

/ ( gp [ cl + td] )

0

6.

the algorithm is set to Noninteractive, and put

the controller in automatic mode.

7.

8.

response can be sped up by increasing Kc and/or

decreasing Ti.

AN124

Dataforth Corporation

Page 3 of 3

References

[1] J.G. Ziegler and N.B. Nichols, Optimum settings for

automatic controllers, Transactions of the ASME, 64, pp.

759768, 1942

[2] D.E. Rivera, M. Morari, and S. Skogestad, Internal

Model Control. 4. PID Controller Design, Industrial

Engineering and Chemical Process Design and

Development, 25, p. 252, 1986

The reader is encouraged to visit Dataforths website to

learn more about PID control and the MAQ20.

Figure 3

A Flow Control Loop, Tuned with IMC Method,

Responding to Set Point Change

Conclusion

While many PID controller tuning rules aim for a fast

response but sacrifice loop stability to obtain that fast

response, the IMC tuning rules provide a viable

alternative when control loop stability is important.

http://www.dataforth.com/catalog/pdf/AN122.pdf

2. MAQ20 Brochure

http://www.dataforth.com/catalog/pdf/MAQ20_broch

ure.pdf

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