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Small-matrix, Model-less Multivariable Control

By Allan Kern Consultant |

Beginning with the early days of automated multivariable control in the 1980s, the trend has always been toward the use of larger matrices and more models. Today’s multivariable controllers commonly comprise dozens of variables and hundreds of models. But the next big advancement in multivariable control may be a shift toward the use of small-matrix, model-less multivariable control practice. Small-matrix practice means that the multivariable controller design is based on practical operating and optimization criteria. This usually involves only a relatively small handful of key variables, typically the ones that operators and process engineers normally use to effect process optimization and constraint management prior to the application of multivariable control. Model-less multivariable control means that the control action is more conservative, and is based on pre-determined safe rates of change and maintaining process stability. This reflects how most industrial processes are actually operated and does not require the use of detailed models (Note: The key terms and concepts used in this article are defined in the sidebar on p. 53). Taken together (although they can be taken separately), small-matrix, model-less practice offers…
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