# Understanding PID Temperature Control as Applied to Vacuum Furnace Performance

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1 Understanding PID Temperature Control as Applied to Vacuum Furnace Performance number 4 Ser Vacuum Furnace Reference i e s

2 Understanding PID Temperature Control As Applied To Vacuum Furnace Performance A) INTRODUCTION Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) control is the most common control type algorithm used and accepted in the furnace industry. This popular controller is used because of its robust performance in a wide range of operating conditions and simplicity of function once understood by the processing operator. The purpose of this paper is to further define and thoroughly explain the basics of the PID controller. It should be noted that many current instruments incorporate what is called an Autotune feature which can automatically set the PID variables for a given temperature setting, allowing the operator to bypass much of the initial manual requirements. However, Autotuning was not introduced until the late 1980 s, and many instruments are still in use today which do not have this tuning feature and must be set-up manually. Also, Autotuning often requires additional tuning or tweaking to reach final acceptable results. By understanding fully the basics of the PID functions as described below, it is hoped that any final adjustments or tuning will be simplified. Further discussion of the Autotune feature follows. As the name suggests, the PID algorithm consists of three basic components, Proportional, Integral, and Derivative which are varied to get optimal response. If we were to observe the temperature of the furnace during a heating cycle it would be rare to find the temperature reading to be exactly at set point temperature. The temperature would vary above and below the set point most of the time. What we are concerned about is the rate and amount of variation. This is where PID is applied. B) DEFINITIONS 1) Closed Loop System In a typical control system, the process variable is the system parameter that needs to be controlled, such as temperature for the vacuum furnace. The control T/C is used to measure the process variable and provide feedback to the control system. The set-point is set for the desired temperature for the process, such as 1500 o F. At any given moment, the difference between the process variable and set point readings is used by the control system algorithm to determine the furnace power output required to reach and maintain set-point. This method of tuning is known as the closed loop system. 1

3 2) Proportional (GAIN) Means a value varying relative to another value. The power output of a proportional controller is relative to the difference between the temperature being controlled and the set-point. The controller could be full ON at some temperature which is well below the set point or full OFF at some temperature above set-point. This creates a Proportioning Band above and below set-point and the power within the band adjusting proportionately to the set-point. See Figure Proportional Band Illustration Temperature Degrees F Process Set-Point PB Upper Limit PB Lower Limit Time (Minutes) Figure 1 3) Integral (RESET) This component provides automatic and continuous elimination of any offset between final settling temperature and set-point. After monitoring and averaging the actual temperature over a period of time, this feature shifts the Proportional Band upscale or downscale until the system temperature and set-point coincide. See Figure 2 where the blue process will eventually be corrected to red set-point. Offset/Integral Illustration 1550 Temperature Degrees F Process Set-Point Time (Minutes) Figure 2 4) Derivative (RATE) This component when combined with proportional action improves control by sensing either positive or negative changes and correcting them more quickly. The proportional is effectively intensified (its gain increased) to 2

4 achieve a quicker response. As illustrated in Figure 3, the process temperature is rapidly corrected (green line) with the derivative active as compared with the slower correction (red line) without the derivative active Derivative Illustration Temperature Degrees F Set-Point WO/Derivative W/Derivative Time (Minutes) Figure 3 C) ACTUAL OPERATION 1) UNDERSTANDING PID DIMENSIONS AND VALUES Although instruments can vary in how each PID value is expressed, most controllers would use the following units: a) Proportional Band This is usually expressed as a percentage of full scale range where the proportioning action takes place. The wider the Proportional Band, the greater the area around the set-point in which the proportional action occurs. Proportional Band is sometimes referred to as GAIN which is the reciprocal of the Proportional Band number. b) Integral This value, also known as RESET, is usually expressed in time (seconds). This component sums the error between the process value and the set-point over a set time period and makes an adjustment accordingly. c) Derivative This component is also expressed in time (seconds) and usually ends up being about 1/4 to 1/6 the value of the Integral time. The derivative response is proportional to the rate of change of the process variable. The time setting represents the period over which the derivative reacts to the process conditions. 2) GENERAL RULES FOR MANUALLY ADJUSTING PID The following rules define what happens with each component adjustment: a) Proportional Band configured as % of range 1) Low numbers more responsive 2) High numbers less responsive 3

5 b) Integral configured as time constant (seconds) 1) Low numbers more Integral action 2) High numbers less Integral action c) Derivative configured as time constant (seconds) 1) Low numbers less Derivative action 2) High numbers more Derivative action D) THE ART OF TUNING MANUAL As stated above, most modern PID controllers have the Autotune capability which will often work satisfactorily, so why need to understand how to tune the PID? Keep in mind that Autotuning functions are based on assumed dampening values which may or may not be perfect for your furnace system. If you have an instrument which does not have Autotuning such as the Allen Bradley PLC used on many furnaces, or even if you have Autotuning, being skilled in the art of tuning allows you to consider trade-offs in the performance of your controller which would not be apparent if you relied solely on an Autotune feature. In general, the most popular method of tuning involves the close loop type of tuning, primarily because it is the easiest to do and the least time consuming. Begin by placing your controller in the ON-OFF mode (turning off the PID). If your controller does not have this capability, set the Proportional Band as low as possible (1 or 2%). Turn the Integral function OFF or set it to ZERO. If you cannot set it to ZERO and it is configured as a time constant as with most modern instruments, setting it as high as possible will disable the Integral function. Finally, turn the Derivative to OFF. If this is not possible, set it to ZERO or as low as possible. It is understood that a chart recorder is part of the control panel. Start with an empty furnace and establish what set point is to be reached. Let us say this is 1500 o F. Allow the furnace time to reach set-point. The chart recorder should display something as shown in Figure 4. Stabilizing Curve 1550 Temperature Degrees F Set-Point Process Time (Minutes) Figure 4 4

6 This curve allows us to establish two important values: 1) The Amplitude which is the difference between the highest and lowest temperature achieved during stabilization. 2) The Period which is the time after settling between peak to peak or valley to valley. This time should be recorded in seconds if your Integral and Derivative functions are typically in seconds. The range of a controller is usually defined by the specific type of thermocouple used for the process. Go to the configuration section of the controller to help determine the range. Based on the above, we can now use the following formulas to determine a preliminary value of each PID component: a) % Proportional Band = Amplitude x 100/Input Range b) Integral Time (Seconds) = Period c) Derivative Time (Seconds) = Period Divided By 6 Put these PID calculated values into your controller which should represent an excellent starting point. Most likely some tweaking will be required which is covered in the next section. E) AUTOTUNING As stated above, many instruments today incorporate an Autotuning feature that determines PID settings automatically for different temperature settings. With the Autotuning function, PID values are measured, computed, and optimum PID constants are set. This feature derives the accurate PID values required to achieve stable and more accurate control. In addition, the Autotuning feature of the instrument is normally activated when the system has reached desired furnace temperature set-point and stabilized for at least 15 minutes. The PID parameters are derived via the software of the microprocessor in the controller. Most instruments allow for establishing and automatically storing PID settings for various temperature settings as they will be different for each final stabilizing point. 5

7 F) TWEAKING THE FURNACE PID CONTROLLER Tweaking should be considered a minor adjustment of the PID parameters in pursuit of control perfection whether following an Autotune or manual set-up. One of the most important concepts to keep in mind when doing tweaking is to understand the potential for harmful interaction between the three PID functions. For example, if the Integral function is set to a time which is shorter than the natural period of the process, it could start erroneously applying correction which might be easily mistaken as a problem with the Proportioning function. Similarly, too long a Derivative time could cause your system to oscillate unnecessarily. We should remember that the principal function of the PID is to better control the Proportioning. 1) SOME BASIC RULES IN TWEAKING PID PARAMETERS While fine tuning the Proportional Band, keep in mind that excessive oscillation or swing can result in either too high or too little amplitude (Bandwidth). This could result in pronounced period length which would mean generally sluggish response when set too high, or a shorter period length accompanied by greater amplitude when set too low. Finally, be sure to change only one value at a time. Remember, Integral and Derivative values which are set too long will cause oscillation or swing while setting them too short could make them essentially ineffective. G) OTHER FACTORS 1) It should be noted that if Autotune is done at several temperatures, resulting PID parameters will be high at the lower temperatures and will decrease in value as the temperature values are increased. This is why the Autotune process is valuable. It establishes and stores each PID functional value at several different temperatures and implements those values when operating in each range. See Figure 5. Temperature Proportional Band Integral Derivative (Degrees F) (Percent) (Seconds) (Seconds) Figure 5 6

8 2) When initiating an Autotune function, the operator should determine the percent of output power being used to hold stabilizing temperature and set the Autotune High Limit to 3-5% above this number. This input will expedite the system in establishing the PID parameters. 3) When multiple PID parameters have been established for various set-points using Autotune, the operator enters what temperature cross-over occurs between the set of PID values and the next set of values. 4) Overshoot is a critical component of any process and must be minimized. Overshoot can be controlled within acceptable limits by properly programming any heating cycle and having the proper Proportional Band and Derivative value established. 5) Many furnace users consider limiting power output so as not to overdrive the hot zone of the furnace. This is especially important at lower temperatures (under 1000 o F) and users should consider minimizing power output to the 25-50% range. G) TYPICAL PID CONTROLLER Written By Real J. Fradette Senior Technical Consultant Solar Atmospheres, Inc. Contributor William R. Jones CEO Solar Atmospheres, Inc. 7

9 ATMOSPHERES Solar Atmospheres Eastern PA Plant A 1969 Clearview Road, Souderton, PA p Solar Atmospheres Eastern PA Plant B 255 Township Line Road, Hatfield, PA p Solar Atmospheres Western PA 30 Industrial Road, Hermitage, PA p Solar Atmospheres CA 8606 Live Oak Avenue, Fontana, CA p Copyright 2012 Rev. 2/ Clearview Road, Souderton, PA p

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