Author Patrick Bouwman explains how his book, Fundamentals of Process Control: Principles and Concepts, helps up-and-coming automation professionals build a solid foundation.
What inspired you to write this book? Is there an experience that led you to consider writing a book on this topic?
I can point to two primary reasons that led me to write the book.
First, although there are many good books about process control, most tend to fall into one of two categories; those that avoid the mathematical foundation and those that treat process control as an academic and theoretical exercise. In writing the book, I paid particular attention to first explaining the concepts and second providing the mathematical principles to justify the explanation. This approach provides the reader with the tools to better understand process control principles and build a foundation for understanding more advanced topics effectively.
Second, in my experience as an instructor, I have always felt that students were unable to make connections between what was covered in theoretical courses and what they learned and experienced in lab activities relating to process control. At some technical schools and universities, there is tremendous pressure to add more and more technology to the curriculum. This reduces the amount of time available for clearly understanding the basic principles and concepts of automation.
Who is this book written for?
The book is intended for those who want to study independently and those studying in a college or university. It can serve as a reference resource for engineers, senior technicians, technologists, and first-line supervisors working or involved in the field of process control.
What is unique about this book? What separates your book from the competition?
The book is divided into three sections. The first section addresses the basic principles and concepts of process control and building a foundation. Section two discusses control strategies used in industry, and section three covers more advanced topics. Because each chapter can be studied independently, this modular approach enables colleges and universities to use the book in a two- or three-semester course by selecting specific chapters in each section to custom tailor their course curriculum. What makes the book unique is that it not only describes control strategies and advanced topics, but it also lays down the foundation in understanding their fundamental principles and concepts.
What are the key takeaways from your book? Is there a problem that the book can help readers solve?
In a typical plant, automation professionals are under pressure to increase productivity and product quality. Suppliers inundate them with the promise that new and advanced technologies—such as fuzzy, model predictive, and other control techniques—will provide them with increased productivity and product quality. This book will help the professional understand the technical terminology, and it explains how these advanced control techniques can help.
The training offered for process control covers many relatively new and very worthwhile technologies. A focus on these topics has often resulted in reduced time spent on advanced topics, assuming that automation suppliers will fill in the blanks.
The ability of the process control professional to recognize opportunities for applying advanced regulatory control techniques means they need a solid basis in understanding the fundamental concepts and principles of these techniques.
What are some of the other ways your book differs from others written on the subject?
In contrast with many academic textbooks on process control, this book aims to present the concepts of process automation and control with a minimal amount of theory and a large amount of practical application knowledge. The book can be used by both instrumentation technicians and process control engineers, but it is primarily aimed at those whose responsibility is to design the control system for a new process or to suggest modifications to an existing control system.
Patrick F. Bouwman is a semiretired electrical engineer with over 40 years of industrial experience, including 18 years in the design and development of military electronics, instrumentation, and biomedical equipment. For more than 15 years, Bouwman operated his own company specializing in research, design, and development of data acquisition and signal processing systems for medical research applications and the instrumentation and process industry. He has provided design and consulting services to the process and automation industry and participated in research conducted at McGill University by custom designing data acquisition equipment and instrumentation for medical research applications.
In addition, Bouwman taught industrial electronics at the collegiate level for over 20 years and was department chair for 16 years, a role in which he was actively involved in all facets of curriculum development, laboratory design, industrial training, and continuing education. He has written numerous instructional and lab manuals on topics including analog and digital electronics, signal processing, discrete automation, instrumentation, process control, PLC programming, ISA-5.1 technical documentation, robotics, computer automation, distributed automation, and medical and military electronics.
He has also provided technical training and instructional material to the Canadian Armed Forces; conducted seminars in data acquisition, signal processing, instrumentation, and control for the manufacturing industry; and prepared and conducted seminars/workgroups in instrumentation, process control, and ISA-5.1 for the International Society of Automation (ISA) Montreal Section. Bouwman is a senior member of ISA, and he served on the Montreal Section board of directors.
He received a B.Sc. in electrical and electronic engineering from Concordia University in Montreal in 1976, and he currently lives in Montreal, Canada.