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# 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

robustness.

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;

y

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

o

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

[16,19].

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

referred.

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

therein.

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

scope).

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

implementation.

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

interfaces.

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

procedure.

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

M

id

s j

1 u

1

s u

2

s

2

1 c

1

s c

2

s

2

c

3

s

3

e

sL

, 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

M

N

sM

N

s

M

D

s

, 2

where M

D

(s) is Hurwitz, M

D

0 M

N

0 M

N

1,

the roots of M

N

s in the LHP, and those of M

N

s

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 .

M

. If M(s) is minimum-phase, .

M

is

selected as the maximum of the frequencies of the

roots of M

D

(s), M

N

s and M

N

s; in the opposite

case, .

M

is the minimum of the frequencies of the

roots of M

N

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 .

M

is excessively large.

To avoid this, the inverse of .

M

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, .

M

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 .

M

is further

constrained to be smaller than the characteristic

frequency of those singularities. Notice that the

degrees of M

D

(s), M

N

s and M

N

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

problems.

To obtain Q(s), set

Qs

M

D

s

jM

N

sQ

0

D

s

, 3

where

Q

0

D

s 1 s,.

Q

i

4

and .

Q

k

Q

.

M

, k

Q

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

Q

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

D

(s) and M

N

s so that the relative degree of Q(s)

be zero. Adopting the choice F(s) 1/(1 s/.

F

), the

IMC regulator turns out to be

Rs

M

D

s

jM

N

sQ

0

D

s1 s,.

F

M

N

s

, 5

where .

F

is set to k

.

.

Q

, 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 .

M

, 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:

k

Q

dictates the limit of the band where Q(s) is con-

sidered an acceptable inverse of M(s), while k

.

deter-

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

k

Q

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

Q

and k

.

is not reported for brevity, three facts need

stressing.

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

n

j. j < 1 8., 6

C

n

(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

Q

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

promising.

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

M

1

(s) 1/(1 100s) and M

2

(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

Q

high (typ. 1)

Overdamped, delay-free (incl. oversh. only) k

Q

0.11.5 k

.

medium (typ. 0.6)

Loosely damped, delay-free k

.

0.050.3 k

Q

low (typ. 0.25)

Undershooting only, delay-free k

.

0.050.3 k

Q

low (typ. 0.25)

Under-and overshooting, delay-free k

.

0.050.6 k

Q

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

1

(s) and

M

2

(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)

2

. 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

Q

1 and (a) F(s) 1/(1 s)(k

.

0.2),

(b) F(s) 1/(1 0.2s) (k

.

1) and (c) F(s) (1 10s)/

(1 5s)

2

. 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

1

(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

2

(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

2

(s): in fact,

to decide that M

2

(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

2

(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

2

(s)

instead of M

1

(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

identification.

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

M

1

s

0.1061 81.5s 28.2s

2

e

0.75s

1 192.4s 5180.4s

2

12310s

3

. 7

The other has the FOPDT structure and is

M

2

s

0.106e

2.4s

1 126s

, 8

see figure 5(a). Taking

Qs

1 192.4s 5180.4s

2

12310s

3

0.1061 81.5s 28.2s

2

1 1.5s

, 9

i.e., k

Q

1, and F(s) 1/(1 6s), i.e., k

.

0.25, leads

to the approximating PID regulator

R

1

s 32.5 1

1

32s

4s

1 2s

. 10

Figure 5c and f reports the experimental closed-loop

transients obtained with the proposed method (R

1

),

and Fig. 5b and e those of the IMC-PID rules [25] with

the FOPDT model (R

2

) and a requested closed-loop

dominant time constant of 10 s, i.e.

R

2

s 96.8 1

1

127s

1.2s

1 1.23

. 11

The response to a set point step of amplitude 2

C

and to a load disturbance step of amplitude 30% are

shown. Note the apparent lack of integral action on

the part of R

2

. The integral time of R

1

is one third of

that of R

2

, 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

frequency.

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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