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European Journal of Control (2006)12:195204

# 2006 EUCA
Performance and Robustness Improvement
in the IMC-PID Tuning Method
Alberto Leva
Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione, Politecnico di Milano Via Ponzio, 34/5, 20133 Milano, Italy
This manuscript presents an extension of the IMC-PID
tuning method. A higher order structure is adopted for
the process model than in the original method, where a
FOPDT (First-Order Plus Dead Time) model is used.
Then, the general IMC procedure is applied, and the so
obtained regulator is approximated with a (real) PID.
Simulations and experimental results indicate that
abandoning the FOPDT structure in the IMC approach
is beneficial both in terms of performance and
Keywords: Internal Model Control; PID Control;
Process Control; Robust Autotuning
1. Introduction
In most process control applications, a good tuning of
the numerous PID loops at the low levels of the con-
trol system is very important for a satisfactory plant
operation. Indeed, no matter how complex a control
system is, its optimisation is a skyscraper whose
foundations are the low level loops, as recognised by
many audits and studies of which Ref. [10] is a
somehow historical example. A poorly tuned loop
invariantly means more hassle for the upper levels of
the control hierarchy, and having a loop tuned
incorrectly very often results in the necessity of taking
more complex solutions at the higher hierarchy levels,
or even of reducing the overall expectations [17].
Therefore, a huge research effort is being spent on
PID autotuning since many years, and as witnessed
for example, by [26], many different methods and
techniques are being experimented with.
Coming to the scope of this work, it is straightfor-
ward to apply the Internal Model Control (IMC)
principle to the synthesis of industrial PID regulators
[4,9,16,27,29,31], but this requires that a specific
structure be adopted for the process model [9].
Therefore, the model structure is dictated by the
type of regulator, not by the process dynamics.
Most frequently, FOPDT (First-Order Plus Dead
Time) models are used with satisfactory results.
Nonetheless, in some cases those models lead to poor
loop behaviour and are detrimental for the interpret-
ability of design parameter(s). In addition, the less the
model structure is close to reality, the more the
identification algorithm adopted is critical for the
tuning results.
To take profit of the IMC rationale for the synthesis
of industrial regulators, it is beneficial (and sometimes
necessary) to abandon the FOPDT model structure,
also while preserving the PID control law. Extending
the IMC-PID tuning method to non-FOPDT struc-
tures is not an easy task, however, and many works
can be found in which, to overcome the FOPDT
shortcomings, the choice is to abandon the PID law:
notable examples are Refs [11,12]. In any case,
extensions of the IMC-PID to non-FOPDT models
are practically absent in the applications [20,26],
especially if analytical tuning formul are required
E-mail: leva@elet.polimi.it
Received 19 November 2003; Accepted 25 November 2005
Recommended by F. Allgower and D. Clarke
[13]. This article proposes such an extension, based on
the preliminary results reported in Ref. [21].
2. Overview and Motivation of the
Presented Research
The general IMC scheme is reported in Fig. 1: P(s)
is the transfer function of the process, assumed here
asymptotically stable; M(s) is the process model; Q(s)
and F(s) are asymptotically stable transfer functions;

, d and n are the set point, a load disturbance and

a measurement noise; y and y are the true and
nominal controlled variables, i.e. the outputs of the
process and its model, respectively.
In the absence of disturbance and noise, if
M(s) P(s) and Q(s) 1/M(s), then the transfer
function from y
to y equals F(s). In practice, the IMC
rationale is to set Q(s) to the inverse of the minimum-
phase part of M(s), and choose F(s) as the desired
closed loop dynamics, aiming at a reasonable
compromise between performance and robustness.
In conventional IMC-PID tuning rules, see e.g.
[16,25,27,29,31], F(s) is composed of lags, and often
takes the form 1/(1 s`), where the design parameter
` can be interpreted as the desired closed-loop time
constant of the control system. Such tuning rules can
provide a good set point response, but are very likely
to cause sluggish transients in the presence of load
disturbances, and are quite a good example of the
overemphasis on set point response too frequently
encountered in the literature [32]. More advanced
rules suggest to include convenient leads in F(s),
possibly abandoning the PID structure: a good
example is Ref. [11], where it is recommended to use a
lead-type F(s) when the desired closed-loop dynamics
is faster than the open-loop one, as is the case when
emphasis is set on disturbance rejection, and con-
ventional rules are suggested in the opposite case.
Some modern techniques adopt complex model
structures, in an attempt to minimise the loss of pro-
cess information, apply the IMC (or a model-based at
large) approach to synthesise a complex regulator,
and then approximate this regulator with a PI or PID.
A few examples of this research stream are [13,14] and,
more specifically on controller reduction, [33,35]. It is
important to note that, with differences too long to
analyse here, the controller reduction is based on a
low-frequency approximation.
Despite all this research effort, however, modern
model-based tuning methods are seldom applied in
the industry. To give just a few examples, the Emerson
EnTech Tuner Module, the Control Station soft-
ware from Control Station Technologies, the Control
Loop Assistant Tuning Software from Lambda
Controls and the ExperTune from ExperTune, Inc.
are based on the `-tuning method, that is somehow
an ancestor of the IMC-PID and was proposed in
1968 [8]. Note that some products (e.g. Control Sta-
tion) ask the user to state whether a first or second
order model has to be used, whether this model must
be integrating or not and whether the step response is
overdamped or oscillatory. Note also that some pro-
ducts (e.g. Control Loop Assistant) require manual
user intervention in the identification phase (the so-
called bump analysis), in order to obtain the best fit
to the data.
In the authors opinion, an important reason for the
practical difficulties encountered by model-based
tuning resides in the interplay between the model
structure, the identification method and the tuning
rules a subject that is seldom addressed in the
autotuning literature [19,30]. Some symptoms of this
problem are listed in the following.
Most research articles are silent on the identifica-
tion method adopted to parametrise the chosen
model structure. This emerges, for example, from
the extensive review given in Ref. [26]. As a result,
several comparisons between different methods
loose significance. Indeed, there is practically no
point in discussing a tuning method based on
extremely simple models without including in the
discussion the identification method employed
Model uncertainty is often addressed in a way
that is not suitable for deriving applicable
procedures, typically because the required hypo-
theses are impossible to check on the basis of
field data: in realistic situations, well-established
results of the identification theory can often
prove inadequate to assess the quality of a model, as
shown in Ref. [3], to which the interested reader is
On the same front, it is seldom considered that short
identification time and low process upset are of
paramount importance for the acceptance of any
industrial autotuner. Most often, in the particular
field of autotuning, the admissible experiment
Fig. 1. The IMC control scheme.
196 A. Leva
consists of a single step or relay test, and articulated
discussions on the excitation properties of the input
signal(s), the estimated parameters variance, and so
on, are of consequently limited relevance in that
domain. Addressing all the peculiar aspects of
autotuning-oriented identification is not possible
here, however, and is also out of the scope of this
manuscript: the reader can find useful information
in Refs [2,17,18,26,34] and in several works quoted
The descriptive capabilities of simple (namely
FOPDT) models are often overestimated. Despite
any opposite claim, no real process has its
dynamics exactly described by this model form [7],
a FOPDT model can just say how far, how fast and
with how much delay the measured process variable
will respond (ibidem).
Many assumptions on those descriptive capabilities,
for example statements like a FOPDT model fits
well at steady state, actually depend (again) on how
the model is identified. Ideally, the model should be
precise near the cutoff frequency, but that fre-
quency is an outcome of the tuning process, not an
information available prior to it, and that is why the
great majority of the identification methods used
in the autotuning domain privilege low-frequency
fitting. Such an aprioristic attitude may affect the
tuning quality in hardly predictable ways, and this
is another (seldom addressed) big problem. For the
interested reader, a brief discussion can be found in
Ref. [19].
Also many assumptions on the characteristics
of some tuning methods, for example the IMC
is not adequate for load disturbance rejection
depend on the identification method. It must
be kept in mind that a cancellation-based method
acts on the singularities of the model, not of the
process. The example in Section 5 illustrates the
remark above, while for the interested reader
Ref. [30] contains a further discussion that would
not fit in this work (and would also stray from its
The significance of design parameters, and the
sensitivity of the tuning results to them, are seldom
discussed, despite these aspects of a tuning proce-
dure are crucial for its acceptance in the industry.
The brief document [10] gives a short but quite
complete idea of the most important issues that
need addressing right from the derivation of a
tuning method, to achieve an industrially reliable
On the other hand, nowadays computational
resources are not a very strict bottleneck. Many
products are conceived to run on a PC, that
connects to the regulator to be tuned via the
control system network. As such, identification
and synthesis procedures can afford non-trivial
computations, and can also be given rich operator
Bridging the gap between academic research and
applications in the autotuning domain is a formidable
task, and this work does not claim to propose a
complete solution. Nonetheless, a simple analysis of
the mentioned interplay involving model structure,
identification and tuning allows to state some
facts, that dictate the guidelines of the proposal
formulated herein. First, though powerful model
evaluation methods have been proposed, in existing
autotuning technology the most common approach is
to identify a good model and trust it as the process.
Given the average quality of process data, it is highly
advisable to preserve this approach whenever possi-
ble. Then, once the model structure has been chosen
and its parameters identified, any information
that cannot be explained by that structure is lost, or
which is even worse has affected the identification
results in a way that depends on the identification
method. If the model is chosen and identified in
such a way that relevant dynamic facts are concealed,
there is no way for the tuning rules to recover that
information loss.
The idea of tuning a PID based on a complex (i.e.
essentially, high-order) model is not new, of course, as
witnessed by Refs [5,13]. The approach proposed in
this work just tries to deal with the mentioned inter-
play between the various autotuning phase in an
organic manner, viable for practical implementation,
and is based on the following reasoning. A model
structure is chosen that is capable of describing all the
characteristics of the process dynamics that can be
observed in the response used for the identification.
Once identified, the model is assumed to represent the
process exactly. The identification is based on the
simulation (not the prediction) error, to ensure that
the model parameters are meaningful with respect to
the process dynamics, and do not merely reproduce
the data. The tuning is done by first synthesising a
higher-order regulator, and then approximating it
with a PID.
The proposed method concentrates on the feedback
block of industrial PIDs, i.e. it adheres to the
approach proposed in Refs [15,16], where the 2-d.o.f.
structure of those regulators is exploited in two steps,
by first tuning the feedback block for disturbance
rejection and robustness, and then optimising the set
point response with the so-called set point weights.
There are alternative approaches where set point
Improved IMC-PID Tuning 197
tracking and load disturbance rejection are tackled
jointly, see e.g. Ref. [28].
3. The Proposed Method
The basic idea of the proposed method is to identify
a process model with a more complex structure
than the FOPDT one, determine a complete IMC
regulator and then approximate this with a PID,
privileging the fit around the cutoff frequency. The
rationale is that a reasonably more complex model
can reduce the criticality of the identification
method, and increase the efficacy and interpretability
of design parameter(s). Recall that synthesising the
controller on a high-order model and then reducing
the former is considered better practice than reducing
a priori the model [1]. The key point is to decide what
is meant for reasonably complex model, in a way
suitable for implementation as a (partially) automated
Whatever response is employed for the identifica-
tion, the structure of the process dynamics is revealed
by the main characteristics of that response. Thin-
king of the step response, a model should be able
to reproduce delay, overshoots, undershoots and
oscillations, with the minimum number of parameters.
This may seem obvious, but is too often overlooked.
On the basis of this reasoning, the structure employed
herein is
s j
1 u
s u
1 c
s c
, 1
that can reproduce the required response features,
and has a sufficiently high order to avoid the unne-
cessary introduction (or overestimation) of the delay
in the presence of significant phase lags. In the esti-
mation of FOPDT models, the delay quite often
explains phase lags that are in fact because of rational
dynamics, and this adversely affects the subsequent
regulator synthesis, especially from the point of view
of performance.
In this work, the model (1) is estimated from
an open-loop step response, by numerical minimisa-
tion of the simulation (not the prediction) error,
with the constraint that the model be asymp-
totically stable. Discussing the identification in
depth would stray from the scope of this manuscript,
and there is plenty of literature on the subject [23].
However, it is advisable to point out some facts.
First, as anticipated, using the simulation error
requires an iterative procedure, but it is vital to obtain
models that not only reproduce the step response
data, but are also representative of the underlying
dynamics. In the literature on autotuning, this is
another aspect that often is not treated with the
emphasis it deserves. Then, the delay is estimated
prior to the other parameters, with a threshold-based
mechanism. This eases the identification of the
rational part of (1), whatever technique is used.
Finally, (1) may be overparametrised for simple pro-
cesses, but in any real-life case where data are rea-
sonably noisy, the identification is not problematic
from the numerical standpoint (provided the predic-
tion error minimisation is avoided).
An alternative (not treated here for space
reasons) is to identify the model interactively, by
asking the operator questions like is there an over-
shoot?, and having relevant points of the response
(e.g. the peak value) indicated in a convenient
graphical window. This may seem crude, but eases a
lot the entire process (and, recall, is done in several
industrial products).
For the IMC-based tuning, first replace the
delay L with its (1,1) Pade approximation (1 sL/2)/
(1 sL/2), which leads to a rational model in the form
Ms j


, 2
where M
(s) is Hurwitz, M
0 M

0 M

the roots of M

s in the LHP, and those of M

in the RHP. Then, make the empirical assumption
that M(s) describes the process satisfactorily, from
the standpoint of control synthesis, up to a
frequency .
. If M(s) is minimum-phase, .
selected as the maximum of the frequencies of the
roots of M
(s), M

s and M

s; in the opposite
case, .
is the minimum of the frequencies of the
roots of M

s. The model might have some poles
more or less cancelled by the zeros. If these (LHP)
cancellations are at high frequency with respect to the
relevant dynamics, then .
is excessively large.
To avoid this, the inverse of .
is constrained to
be larger than a fixed percentage (1/50) of the mea-
sured settling time. This also counteracts any other
meaningless high-frequency singularity owing to
overparametrisation. Finally, .
must be reduced if
the model has (meaningful) loosely damped poles or
LHP zeros, because those singularities will be can-
celled by the IMC regulator, making the PID
approximation critical. Therefore, if such a couple
of singularities exists with damping factor lower
than a fixed value (0.7 is used), then .
is further
constrained to be smaller than the characteristic
frequency of those singularities. Notice that the
degrees of M
(s), M

s and M

s allow to
compute their roots explicitly. Note also that
198 A. Leva
performing the identification in an interactive and
guided way would help a lot avoiding the mentioned
To obtain Q(s), set

, 3
s 1 s,.

and .
, k
being the first design parameter of
the proposed tuning method. This guarantees that
Q(s) be an acceptable approximation of the inverse of
the minimum-phase part of M(s) up to the reasonably
achievable control bandwidth. A larger k
means the
request of a wider control bandwidth, thus of higher
performance. The standard value of 1 is adequate in
practice. The integer i is selected based on the degrees
of M
(s) and M

s so that the relative degree of Q(s)
be zero. Adopting the choice F(s) 1/(1 s/.
), the
IMC regulator turns out to be

s1 s,.

, 5
where .
is set to k
, k
2 (0, 1) being the second
design parameter of the proposed tuning method. The
rationale of k
is to increase the degree of stability and
robustness, as in the typical IMC scheme. A value in
the range 0.11 is advisable on the basis of experience.
Notice that, up to this point, the tuning procedure is
entirely analytical, with the advantages illustrated in
Ref. [13].
In all the cases considered, the obtained IMC reg-
ulator can be approximated with a PID very effec-
tively up to the necessary bandwidth. For this
approximation, an ad hoc numeric procedure is
employed. The idea is to preserve the low-frequency
aspect of the regulators frequency response, with a
certain emphasis on the frequency range around the
cutoff, and its mid-frequency phase lead (when there is
one). With the hypotheses introduced, the IMC reg-
ulator magnitude may have one of the two aspects of
Fig. 2, the low- and high-frequency asymptotic slopes
being 20 dB/dec.
To obtain the PID regulator, the magnitude of the
frequency response of the IMC one is computed, the
presence or absence of the peak is checked, and 20
points are selected as shown in Fig. 2 around the
cutoff frequency, computed by means of the high-
order model and regulator. Then, the frequency
response magnitude of a real PID is fit to these points
with a procedure very similar to the Matlab invfreqs
command, with the constraint that the second PID
pole and its zeros be in the LHP. Thanks to the choice
of .
, this simple procedure works effectively in all
the cases of interest. Several alternative procedures
can be found in the literature, see e.g. Refs
[6,22,24,33,35]. Some were tested, with results similar
to those of the simple one proposed. This corroborates
the idea that the structural model improvement, and
the corresponding choice of the control bandwidth,
make also the PID approximation not particularly
critical, provided that the reduction rationale is not to
privilege low-frequency fitting unconditionally, but
rather to preserve (also) the mid- and high-frequency
behaviour of the IMC regulator as much as possible.
As a final remark, notice that the IMC regulator could
be approximated even more effectively by a real PID
cascaded to a first-order filter. This possibility is not
investigated here (apart from a short remark in the
simulation example of Section 6), but may be impor-
tant in the presence of noise.
The proposed method has two design parameters:
dictates the limit of the band where Q(s) is con-
sidered an acceptable inverse of M(s), while k
mines the band of the IMC filter, relatively to that
where the inverse is considered reliable. To ease the
application, extensive simulation tests indicate that
two modes can be defined: a simple mode, where
is set to 1 and k
can range from 0.1 to 0.5, and an
expert mode where recommendations like those
summarised in Table 1 can be employed.
Though a complete treatment of the joint use of k
and k
is not reported for brevity, three facts need
Also the simple use of the proposed method does
yield an improvement with respect to the FOPDT-
based IMC-PID tuning.
As far as the clarity of the effect of the parameter(s)
is concerned, in some cases the improvement
Fig. 2. PID approximation of the IMC regulator.
Improved IMC-PID Tuning 199
yielded by the simple use of the method exists but
is not particularly evident. These problems are
always avoided using the other parameter, however:
no cases were found in which the closed-loop
responses are not sensitive to at least one parameter
in a clear and sensible way.
The closed-loop responses forecast with the
model (1) are always realistic enough to decide on
the correctness of a specific choice of the para-
meter(s) another improvement with respect to
FOPDT models.
There should be no doubt that the proposed
method can improve performance with respect to the
FOPDT-based IMC-PID, since the dynamics that are
cancelled are more close to the really control-relevant
ones. To compare the robustness properties of the
proposed method with those of the IMC-PID, recall
that in the scheme of Fig. 1 robust stability is guar-
anteed [9] for any additive model error W(s) fulfilling
jW j. C
j. j < 1 8., 6
(s) F(s)Q(s) being the nominal control sensitivity
function. If the FOPDT model used in the IMC-PID
method is a low-frequency approximation of (1), and
if the same IMC filter is used, it is easy to verify that
the nominal control sensitivity functions of the pro-
posed method and of the IMC-PID are almost equal
in the control band, their difference vanishing for
w ! 0. However, in the proposed method the model
error is computed with respect to (1), while in the
IMC-PID it is computed with respect to the FOPDT
model. Hence, the proposed method is more tolerant
to model error than the IMC-PID. This fact is
confirmed by experience, as shown also in the
experimental example of Section 6, but opens another
problem. In the FOPDT case, there is the possibility
of selecting ` based on quantitative model error
information [18]. Things are more complex in the
proposed method, so that precise clues for a case-
specific selection of k
and/or k
are not yet available.
The problem is being studied.
Finally, some generality considerations are in order.
Quite intuitively, the method is as general as the set of
characteristics that the model structure is able to
represent. Given a set of dynamics that an auto-
tuner must be capable of dealing with, if the IMC
approach is adopted with an adequately complex
model structure, a correspondingly designed con-
struction of the approximated model inverse, and a
consequent choice of the IMC filter, then, for the
processes that exhibit those dynamics as the control-
relevant ones, the tuning results will be good, the
design parameter(s) will have a clear effect, and nei-
ther the model identification nor the PID approx-
imation procedures will be critical. Employing the
IMC approach in this way is very effective, also to
obtain tuning procedures that are specialised for
certain application domain.
4. Possible Extensions
The proposed idea, besides the procedure sketched
above, can lead to some extensions.
Obviously, it is possible to employ different model
structures, to better tailor the method to different
classes of situations if needed. It would be very
interesting, for example, to employ identification
procedures with structural selection capabilities [18],
possibly with some human intervention. Some pre-
liminary results are available, and the idea seems
It is also possible to employ different IMC filters,
e.g. introducing lead elements when the closed-loop
bandwidth is higher than the open-loop one. Com-
putations are analogous to those reported, and are
omitted for brevity. As will be shown in the simulation
example, introducing lead-type filters may yield
some advantage, but not as evident as in the FOPDT-
based case.
Research is underway on these extensions, and
results will be presented in future works.
5. A Simulation Example
The process considered is P(s) (1 10s)/
[(1 100s)(1 s)]. The two first order models
(s) 1/(1 100s) and M
(s) 0.1/(1 s) represent
Table 1. Recommendations for the use of design parameters in the expert mode.
Characteristic of model or response Preferred parameter Range Other parameter Value
Dominant delay k
0.050.3 k
high (typ. 1)
Overdamped, delay-free (incl. oversh. only) k
0.11.5 k
medium (typ. 0.6)
Loosely damped, delay-free k
0.050.3 k
low (typ. 0.25)
Undershooting only, delay-free k
0.050.3 k
low (typ. 0.25)
Under-and overshooting, delay-free k
0.050.6 k
medium (typ. 0.6)
200 A. Leva
it accurately in different frequency ranges, as shown
in Fig. 3.
The IMC-PID rules were applied to M
(s) and
(s) taking Q(s) as the model inverse and (a) F(s)
1/(1 5s), (b) F(s) 1/(1 s) and (c) F(s) (1 10s)/
(1 5s)
. The closed-loop responses to a unit load
disturbance step and the regulators magnitude plots
are shown in the first and second row of Fig. 4.
Then, the proposed method was applied to
P(s) taking k
1 and (a) F(s) 1/(1 s)(k
(b) F(s) 1/(1 0.2s) (k
1) and (c) F(s) (1 10s)/
(1 5s)
. The closed-loop responses to a unit load
disturbance step and the regulators magnitude plots
are shown in the third row of Fig. 4.
When using the model M
(s) and the IMC-PID
rules, the best closed-loop performance in terms of
peak deviation from the set point and settling time
is achieved with the lead-lag filter (c), see the
corresponding curves in the first row of Fig. 4.
However, that regulator has quite a large high-
frequency gain.
On the other hand, when using the IMC-PID rules
with model M
(s), the best results are achieved with
the lag-only filter (b), see the corresponding curves in
the second row of Fig. 4. Also, the regulators high-
frequency gain is smaller. Note, however, that it is
very unlikely that the typical identification methods
used in autotuning produce a model like M
(s): in fact,
to decide that M
(s)is a good model for PID tuning,
knowledge of the entire P(s)is necessary.
The results of the proposed method (third row) are
similar to those obtained with M
(s), i.e. the knowl-
edge of P(s) does yield an advantage. Note that the
regulator magnitude is quite small and rolls off at high
frequency, as the PID approximation leads to a very
high-frequency zero, that can be omitted.
To summarise, the shortcomings of the FOPDT
models can adversely affect the tuning results or not,
depending on the identification method: if the model
is accurate in the right bandwidth, the IMC-PID
results are comparable with those of the proposed
method. The problem is that such information is not
available a priori. This should help answering the
frequent question when is a FOPDT model accurate?
or, better, understanding that the question is de facto
of very limited interest in the autotuning context: a
Fig. 3. Process and models in the simulation example.
Fig. 4. Results of the simulation example.
Improved IMC-PID Tuning 201
FOPDT model is always good if well identified, and
bad if identified with the wrong method, but to decide,
extensive process knowledge is needed. In addition, if
an accurate model is used, there is little disadvantage
using a lag-only IMC filter (which saves a design
parameter, by the way): in fact, adopting M
instead of M
(s) improves the settling time without
using a lead-type filter. The real problem is that
transients are sluggish when the low-frequency
dynamics of the model are cancelled, and these are not
representative of the dynamics of the process that are
control-relevant for the problem at hand: statements
like load response is sluggish when the required
closed-loop time constant is smaller than that of the
process can be very misleading, because rigorously
speaking there is no such thing as the process time
constant, and that of the model depends on the
6. Experimental Results
The process considered is a laboratory setup for
temperature control, where a metal plate is heated by
two transistors: one is the control actuator, the other
acts as a load disturbance. The controlled variable is
the plate temperature.
Figure 5a shows an open-loop step experiment and
two identified models: one has the proposed structure
and is
0.1061 81.5s 28.2s
1 192.4s 5180.4s
. 7
The other has the FOPDT structure and is
1 126s
, 8
see figure 5(a). Taking
1 192.4s 5180.4s
0.1061 81.5s 28.2s
1 1.5s
, 9
i.e., k
1, and F(s) 1/(1 6s), i.e., k
0.25, leads
to the approximating PID regulator
s 32.5 1

1 2s

. 10
Figure 5c and f reports the experimental closed-loop
transients obtained with the proposed method (R
and Fig. 5b and e those of the IMC-PID rules [25] with
the FOPDT model (R
) and a requested closed-loop
dominant time constant of 10 s, i.e.
s 96.8 1

1 1.23

. 11
The response to a set point step of amplitude 2

and to a load disturbance step of amplitude 30% are
shown. Note the apparent lack of integral action on
the part of R
. The integral time of R
is one third of
that of R
, and the transients of Fig. 5 evidence a
significant response speed increment owing to stron-
ger feedback (see in particular the load disturbance
response, where the output-derivation structure of the
Fig. 5. Experimental tuning results.
202 A. Leva
PID used in the experiments is irrelevant to the ana-
lysis). Notice also the lower high-frequency regulator
gain obtained with the proposed method, and the
corresponding smoother behaviour of the control
signal in the presence of noise. In this example the
process step response appears definitely of the first
order: nonetheless, more extensive process knowledge
is of help.
In Fig. 5d the two PIDs (10) and (11) are compared
in the frequency domain, by reporting the open-loop
Nyquist plots with the (accurate) model (7). Finally,
Fig. 6 shows the magnitude plots of the inverse of the
nominal control sensitivity in the various cases, to
show the improved robustness of the proposed
method, especially in the vicinity of the cutoff
7. Concluding Remarks
An extension of the IMC-PID tuning method was
presented. A reasoned choice of the process model
structure, and an empirical quantification of the
bandwidth where this model is reliable from the
synthesis standpoint, allow the IMC procedure to
yield a regulator that can be approximated with a real
PID effectively, and produces better results than the
one obtained with a FOPDT model (the most com-
monly used structure in IMC-based PID tuning), both
in terms of performance and robustness. Simulation
and experimental results have been presented to back
up the proposed approach.
If the IMC approach is used as proposed herein, the
criticality of the model identification method is
reduced, and the clarity and interpretability of the
effects of the IMC design parameter(s) are improved
with respect to any use of the IMC approach where
the model structure is selected based only on the
regulator type. Also these statements are corroborated
by experience.
The presented research is continuing, with three
major goals. The first is to further investigate the role
of design parameters, so as to obtain simple clues for
their selection like in FOPDT-based IMC-PID tuning
(the table proposed for the expert mode is to be
considered a preliminary result). The second is to
further extend the method by employing a set of
possible model structures, among which the choice is
to be made on-line. The third, and more ambitious, is
to employ non-parametric models, so as to minimise
the information loss on the process dynamics.
It is finally worth recalling that here a tuning
principle, not an engineered product, was introduced.
To achieve an industry-ready implementation, a
number of aspects would need addressing that cannot
be treated in a research article. In any case, experience
with a Matlab prototype of the presented procedure
are definitely encouraging.
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