- 8:35 AM

The Evolution of Process Control - from Hand-Turned Valves to Wireless Networks

Pete Sharpe, Emerson Process Management, 11101 Dude Ranch Rd., Glen Allen, VA 23059

Over the past 50 years, fundamental advancements in process control technologies have driven dramatic improvements in plants' operating efficiencies, productivity and asset utilization. The move from pneumatic to electronic controls improved response times and control loop performance. Distributed Control Systems (DCS) brought another step change in capability and established a platform to build Advanced Process Control (APC) applications. Fieldbus technologies and intelligent field devices are driving another transformation in the process industries with advanced diagnostics and asset management functions. Wireless control networks are poised to be the next major disruptive technology that could proliferate cheap measurement devices into services that have previously been cost prohibitive. These technology shifts have also changed how control systems are designed, installed and maintained.

This paper will take a historical perspective on how instrumentation and process control has evolved over the years and what each major innovation has meant to the process industries. A review of new process control technologies in their infancy will provide a vision of what the future might bring.

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