Certified Automation Professional (CAP) Associate Exam Review Course (EC01)

EC01 Image

The Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) Associate Exam Review Course (EC01) is an intense review of the field of automation intended to help students in their preparation to take the CAP Associate exam. The exam is for recent graduates who have a four-year academic degree in a technical or technology field, a two-year technical degree with one year of experience in the automation field, or five years of work experience in the automation field.

For early-career automation professionals, the CAP Associate program recognizes interest and knowledge in automation. Though CAP Associate is not a certification program, it provides additional credentials and CAP Associates are eligible to sit for the CAP exam after four years of work experience in automation instead of the usual five years.

ISA CAP Associate Badge Logo

This course is provided as a preparation resource for the CAP Associate Certificate Program. Your course registration includes your registration for the exam (a 200 USD value). Pass the exam and earn the certificate. Learn more about the CAP Associate Certificate.


Who Should Take EC01?

This course is designed to help individuals prepare for the ISA CAP Associate certificate exam, including those who:

  • Have a four-year academic degree in a technical or technology field;
  • Have a two-year technical degree plus one year of work experience in the automation field; or
  • Have five years of work experience in the automation field

View Offerings by Format

Classroom (EC01)

Length: 2 days 
CEU Credits: 1.4

View EC01 Classroom Offerings

Self-Paced, Modular (EC01M)

Length: 18 Modules
CEU Credtis: 6.3

View Self-Paced Modular Offering (EC01M)



Learning Objectives

This course includes a broad scope of learning objectives. Expand the topic headings below to view the learning objectives you will be able to achieve upon completing this course.

CAP Associate Basics

  • Recognize the benefits of earning CAP Associate certification
  • Explain the scope of CAP Associate certification
  • Recognize the six domains of CAP Associate and that each domain includes specific tasks
  • Explain characteristics of the CAP Associate exam

Process Instrumentation

  • Discuss measurement concepts in relation to process instrumentation
  • Discuss pressure measurement concepts, methods and considerations
  • Discuss level measurement concepts, methods and considerations
  • Discuss temperature measurement concepts, methods and considerations
  • Discuss flow measurement concepts, methods and considerations
  • Compare multivariable and smart transmitters

Analytical Instrumentation

Describe concepts, methods and considerations of analytical measurements including:

  • pH
  • ORP
  • Specific ion
  • dissolved oxygen
  • moisture
  • gas analyzers

Continuous Control

  • Discuss important process dynamic characteristics that influence control loop behavior
  • Discuss the purpose and behavior of the various modes of a PID controller
  • Configure a controller for direct or reverse acting
  • Discuss controller tuning techniques and recognize the strong and weak points of each
  • Explain why feedback control, if used alone, will permit more variability in the process than will feedback control combined with the use of some advanced regulatory control technique
  • Discuss advanced regulatory control strategies, including ratio, cascade, feedforward, decoupling, and selector control

Control Valves and Analog Communications

Part A

  • Explain the role of a control valve
  • Discuss the fundamentals of valve selection
  • Discuss the problems associated with cavitation, flashing, and sonic velocity
  • Explain the effects of hysteresis, deadband, and friction on the precision of a control valve
  • Describe the types of actuators and their advantages
  • Discuss the added functionality of smart valves

Part B

  • Define analog signal
  • Discuss sources of analog signals
  • Explain analog signal scaling
  • Describe the types of signaling standards
  • Explain why signaling is necessary
  • Explain analog-to-digital conversion

Control System Documentation and Control Equipment

Part A

  • Identify the documents typically used to define the control system of a continuous process
  • Explain the sequence of document development for the control system of a continuous process
  • Understand the purpose and contents of a process P&ID
  • Explain the meaning of the symbols used to define control system components
  • Recognize the differences in how a loop is depicted on a P&ID and a loop diagram
  • Recognize the difference between mandatory and consensus standards
  • Explain the use of and the importance of instrument numbers

Part B

  • Explain the existence and purpose of control equipment
  • Describe the evolution of control systems
  • Describe the advantages of PLC control
  • Describe the purpose and application of SCADA systems, distributed control, and hybrid control
  • Explain the advantages of digital fieldbus communications

Basic, Discrete Sequencing and Manufacturing Control/Discrete and Sequencing Control

Part A:

  • Describe actuation technologies and their control
  • Describe output interfacing techniques
  • Describe sensing technologies
  • Discuss remote and networked input and output technologies used in automation control

Part B:

  • Explain and understand concepts of discrete and sequential control
  • Understand the basic operational principles of PLCs
  • Explain interlocking and its uses
  • Explain the need for sequencing and its uses
  • Describe use of IEC 61131 programming languages
  • Explain basic selection criteria for PLC

Motor and Drive Control

  • Describe DC motor principles of operation and explain the differences between four major DC motor types
  • Describe AC motor principles of operation and explain the functions of key AC motor components
  • Compare and contrast AC versus DC motor advantages in variable speed applications
  • Identify DC drive principles of operation and typical motor stopping methods
  • Identify AC drive principles of operation with speed, torque and stopping control
  • Identify key VFD design features used in automation environments

Motion Control

  • Discuss the functions of motion control
  • Explain the difference between an absolute encoder and an incremental encoder
  • Explain what causes the device being controlled to not be at the correct position when the servo control shows zero error
  • Identify the control element and the measurement element in a motion control loop
  • Describe the difference between stepper motors and servo motors
  • Discuss how servo motors are controlled

Batch Control

  • Explain how batch control differs from traditional continuous process control
  • Describe batch control functionality
  • Identify the four levels of modules that make up key equipment entities and the functionality of each
  • Explain the concept of control as a function
  • Identify the principles of ANSI/ISA 88
  • Explain the importance of the recipe in batch processing

Alarm Management and Reliability, Safety, and Electrical

Part A

  • Identify the main problems of alarm management
  • Explain the purpose and list some of the key components of an alarm philosophy
  • Explain the purpose and list some of the products of alarm rationalization
  • Identify the key elements of HMI design for alarm systems
  • Identify the typical performance metrics for alarm systems
  • Explain the purpose and components of an alarm management system

Part B

  • Explain the basics of MTTR, MTTF, MTBF
  • Discuss safe and dangerous failure modes
  • Identify the different types of redundancy and how they impact dangerous and safe failure modes
  • Identify the key elements of HMI design for alarm systems
  • Identify common cause and its impact on reliability
  • Determine testing intervals and its impact on availability

Process Safety and Safety Instrumented Systems

  • Explain the concept of SIS as a layer of protection and how the need is determined
  • Discuss the significance of SIL levels
  • Explain the steps in the safety instrumented system design lifecycle
  • Describe the two basic failure modes of safety systems
  • Compare and contrast technology logic systems used for safety systems
  • Identify common failures in field devices such as sensors and final elements
  • Explain the need for testing safety systems
  • Explain the need for management of change
  • Identify which systems are necessary to meet Safety Integrity Level requirements

Electrical Installations and Electrical Safety

Part A

  • Ensure that automation processes do not fail due to faulty electrical installation practices
  • Explain the basics of grounding
    Discuss the use of electrical circuit protection and enclosures
    Recognize the importance of adherence to PE manufacturers’ installation requirements

Part B:

  • Select electrical equipment with appropriate protection from fire and shock hazards
  • Define the salient features of the most common types of protection against electrically initiated explosions and understand characteristics, design, and operation of each
  • Select electrical apparatus appropriate for use in a specific potentially hazardous location, and the materials to which it may be exposed
  • Identify intrinsic safety as a system-oriented protection concept rather than a device characteristic
  • Explain the differences between a dynamic model and a steady state model
  • Explain the classification of locations where combustible materials may be present

Industrial Networks

  • Explain the difference in model fidelity requirements
  • Recognize the need for field or lab measurements to correct models
  • Compare and contrast experimental and first principal models
  • Explain the risks of relying on historical data to build models
  • Explain the differences between a dynamic model and a steady state model

MES Integration and Network Security

Part A:

  • Identify the level of activities in a typical manufacturing company
  • Explain the information that is exchanged between business processes and manufacturing processes
  • Identify work centers and work units and their relationship to manufacturing operations management activities
  • Compare and contrast different MES systems based on the functions they support
  • Identify maintenance, quality, and inventory operations management functions in your organization
  • Explain the criteria used to define the specific boundary between business process functions and manufacturing operations management functions

Part B:

  • Discuss the need for security and the general approaches that are used to achieve it
  • Explain the steps in developing a security program including risk assessment and developing an audit program
  • Describe the security approaches of authentication/ authorization, filtering/blocking, and encryption

Data Management

  • Describe the structure of a typical process database
  • Design a database structure to support desired uses of the data
  • Recognize the special requirements of real-time process databases
  • Estimate database storage requirements
  • Perform database sorts and searches effectively
  • Generate complete, useful documentation for a process database

Deployment and Operation

  • Explain the importance of safety considerations during startup
  • Explain the areas for instrument commissioning
  • Explain the use of Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT)
  • Explain the use of Site Acceptance Testing (SAT)

Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Part A:

  • Explain the logical framework that underlies troubleshooting
  • Explain safety aspects of troubleshooting
  • Explain the seven-step troubleshooting procedure
  • Discuss various troubleshooting techniques
  • Explain how “out-of-the-box” thinking applies to troubleshooting

Part B:

  • Discuss the importance of maintenance to optimize life cycle costs and profits
  • Establish metric to measure your organization’s performance for comparison to benchmarks and for continuous improvement
  • Discuss guidelines for evaluating and supporting equipment
  • Recognize reliability and availability as the most important goals of maintenance
  • Identify different approaches to maintenance

Topics Covered

View EC01 Topics

  • CAP and CAP Associate Basics
  • Process Instrumentation
    • Measurement Concepts
    • Analytical Instrumentation
  • Continuous Control
    • Introduction
    • Response Characteristics
    • PID Control
    • Characteristics of typical loops
    • Advanced Regulatory Control
    • Simple Multivariable Control
  • Control Valves
    • Types
    • Flow vs. opening relationship (characteristic)
    • Actuators and positioners
    • Dynamic Problems
    • Cavitation, Flashing, and Noise
    • Other Final Control Elements
    • Smart Control Valves
  • Analog Communications
    • Analog signals
    • Two wire measurement systems
    • Four wire measurement systems
    • Output signals
    • Digital signals
  • Control System Documentation
    • Requirements for Documentation
    • ISA Standards for Documentation
    • Types of Documentation
  • Control Equipment
  • Basic Discrete, Sequencing, and Manufacturing Control
    • Discrete I/O
    • Discrete and Sequencing Control
    • Motor and Drive Control
    • Motion Control
  • Advanced Control
    • Process Modeling
    • Advanced Process Control
    • Batch Control
  • Reliability, Safety, and Electrical
    • Alarm Management
    • Reliability
  • Process Safety and Safety Instrumented Systems
    • Safety Layers
    • Risk
    • SILs
    • SIS Requirements
    • Fault Tolerant Systems
  • Electrical Installations
    • Grounding
    • Shielding
    • Interference
    • Hazardous Areas
  • Electrical Safety
    • Hazardous Area Classification
    • Protection Techniques
    • Intrinsic Safety
    • Non-incendive
    • Pressurized/Purged Enclosures
  • Data Communications
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • Industrial Networking
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • MES Integration
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • Network Security
    • Terminology and Tools
    • Computer Network Vulnerabilities
    • Defense Tools and Strategies
  • Operator Interface
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • Data Management
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • Deployment and Maintenance
    • OSI Reference Model
    • Terminologies
    • Error Detection
    • Topology
    • Ethernet
    • Internetworking
  • Work Structure
    • Automation benefits and project justification
    • Project management
    • Interpersonal skills

Recommended Reading

A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge, Third Edition
Edited by Nicholas P. Sands, PE, CAP, ISA Fellow, and Ian Verhappen, P Eng, CAP, ISA Fellow

Take the First

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