ISA published Process Control Basics by George Buckbee, a process control veteran with over 25 years of practical industry experience. In this Q&A feature, Buckbee explores the focus, importance, and differentiating qualities of the book.

Please tell us about your professional background.
I earned a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in chemical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  I discovered the field of process control and found it to be a nice blend of computer science and chemical engineering.

After graduating, I joined Procter & Gamble. For the next 14 years, I led projects to automate and optimize the production of consumer products, including coffee, peanut butter, pulp, and paper. At P&G, I was also involved in training new engineers and technicians in instrumentation and control.

Then, I went into the consulting business, helping other companies get more out of their control systems. As a consultant, I had the opportunity to work with Expertune, which involved creating software, and offering training and global consulting services.  I have been leading the Expertune team since its acquisition by Metso (now Neles) in 2012.

What inspired you to write this book?
Process control skills are highly desired, but it is often difficult for people to enter the field. Colleges and universities tend to focus on theory and mathematics rather than the practical applications. Plant technicians often have no way to enter the field unless a program is offered at a local community college. Therefore, I decided to create a resource that technicians could use to teach themselves the basics of process control.

Who is this book written for?
This book is intended for those interested in learning the practical basics of process control, including technicians, engineers, and maintenance and management professionals.

What is unique about this book? What separates it from the competition?
You don’t need a background in theory or mathematics to get value from this book. I have covered all the essential topics, and explained the terminology and principles of operation for instrumentation, valves, and controls. Those who read this book will be able to participate in conversations and projects more confidently.

What are the key takeaways from your book? Is there a problem that the book can help readers solve?
This book helps the reader overcome the entry barrier to the field of process control. Whether you are maintaining instruments, automating a plant, or managing a technical team, this book helps you build a basic understanding, competence, and confidence in the practical aspects of control systems.

George Buckbee, PE, is a veteran of the process control industry. An experienced author and instructor, he has over 30 years of practical experience improving process performance in a wide array of process industries including oil and gas, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products.

Buckbee’s career includes direct industry experience at Procter & Gamble and Sanofi Pasteur, before entering the software development and control system consulting business at ExperTune. Currently head of performance solutions at Neles, he manages global digital solutions for valve monitoring, and the ExperTune family of products and services.

He is the coauthor (along with Joseph Alford) of Automation Applications in Bio-Pharmaceuticals, published by ISA. He wrote several chapters in The Instrument Engineer’s Handbook and authored Mastering Cascade Control and Mastering Split-Range Control. He has also written dozens of articles and white papers on control system performance.

Buckbee holds a BS in chemical engineering from Washington University, and an MS in chemical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was selected as an ISA Fellow in 2011, and he is a member of the ISA Publications Department.