Tuning and Troubleshooting Control Systems (TC15)


Length: 5 days
CEU Credits: 3.5
Course Hours:  8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Certification of Completion: A Certificate of Completion indicating the total number of CEUs earned will be provided upon successful completion of the course.


This course is designed for individuals and technicians who would like to gain a better understanding of how to tune and troubleshoot control loops. You will learn how pressure, level, flow, and temperature loops operate to maintain good process control systems. In addition, this course will present a systematic approach to troubleshooting and start-up of single- and multi-loop control loops.

Note: A basic understanding of instrumentation and controls (either by working experience or taking fundamental courses such as ISA's FG07: Introduction to Industrial Automation and Control) and pre-existing knowledge of instrumentation and control is assumed.

"Feedback control tuning for level, pressure, temperature, and flow were well covered with a variety of strategies presented. The laboratory sessions were very useful in providing hands on experience with the theories being presented." -Vincent Broderick, Automation Engineer

"Hands-on training was great and can very easily be applied to real life." -Gregory Musacchio, Instrument Technician

You Will Be Able To:

  • Define the concepts of PID control
  • Explain the operation of the components in a closed loop control system including static and dynamic functions
  • Identify the requirements for open loop and closed loop stability
  • Use three methods to tune a control system for stated quality control
  • Apply the functions of cascade control loops and the advantage of cascade control over single element feedback control
  • Tune a cascade control loop for optimum control
  • Apply the principles and design features of feedforward control
  • Tune a feedforward control system for optimum control
  • Identify the advantages of feedforward control over feedback control
  • Apply the operation and function of ratio control systems
  • Tune ratio control systems
  • Develop a systematic approach to troubleshooting
  • Identify why a systematic approach to troubleshooting is most effective
  • Follow specified procedures for proper loop check-out
  • Verify, locate, and identify performance problems and the causes of the problems
  • Take or recommend appropriate follow-up procedures to minimize problem recurrence
  • Identify the common causes of sensor, transmitter, controller, and final control element problems
  • Troubleshoot control systems
  • Apply distributed control system (DCS) functions for troubleshooting
  • Interpret pneumatic and electronic loops
  • Apply safety practices for start-up
  • Check and utilize control loop documentation
  • Discuss applications and procedures to troubleshoot conventional analog control systems
  • State the general operation features of a HARTTM control system
  • State the general operations features of a FIELDBUSTM control system
  • Compare general troubleshooting procedures for conventional, FIELDBUSTM, and HARTTM control systems

You Will Cover:

  • Review of Feedback Control Concepts and Components:  History of Control Operation | Concepts | Pictorial Representation | Disturbances in the Loop
  • Control Modes:  Proportional | Integral | Derivative
  • Dynamic and Steady State Considerations:  Gain | Dead Time | Time Constant
  • Tuning Control Systems:  Closed Loop Tuning Using Ziegler Nichols Method | Evaluation and Control Criteria
  • Cascade Control:  Primary Loop | Secondary Loop | Design and Tuning Criteria
  • Ratio Control:  Applications | Implementation
  • Feedforward Control:  Criteria | Applications | Tuning | Implementation | Material and Energy Balances
  • Safety Concerns and Procedures when Operating Control Systems
  • Introduction to Troubleshooting:  Purpose of Troubleshooting | Reasons for Troubleshooting
  • Approaches to Troubleshooting:  Equipment History | Input/Output (Serial) | Shotgun Approach | Logical Analysis
  • Logical Analysis Troubleshooting:  Verify | Identify | Repair | Test | Follow-up on Problems
  • Review of ISA Standard Diagrams and Symbols:  Process and Instrument Drawings | Loop Drawings | Process Flow Diagrams
  • Single-Loop Feedback Control Troubleshooting:  Measurement Concerns | Valve Concerns | Controller Operations | Signal Conditioners | Troubleshooting Simulation
  • Multi-Loop Control Systems Troubleshooting:  Ratio (Controlled Stream, Wild Stream) | Cascade (Primary and Secondary Loop) | Three-Element Drum Level Control | Troubleshooting Simulation
  • Introduction to Digital Control Systems:  Advantages | Digital Control (DDC) | Supervisory | Supervisory Plus DDC | Analog Back-up | HARTTM Systems | FIELDBUSTM Systems
  • Distributed Control Functions for Troubleshooting:  Elements | Displays (Graphic, Trend, Alarm)
  • Start-up Concerns:  Safety | Documentation | Tuning Review  | Component Check-out

Classroom/Laboratory Exercises:

  • Demonstrate the operation of components required for closed loop control
  • Review start-up procedures for single- and multi-loop systems
  • Tune feedback control loops via a number of different methods
  • Tune cascade, ratio, and feedforward control systems
  • Tune using PC-based simulation software
  • Observe operation and tuning of a feedback control loop
  • Tune cascade, ratio, and feedforward control systems using PC-Based simulation software
  • Diagnose and solve problems with single-loop control loops
  • Diagnose and solve problems with ratio, cascade, and three-element control loop systems
  • Diagnose problems using DCS displays for information 
  • Troubleshoot several single control loop problems


  • Basic and Advanced Regulator Control: System Design and Application, 3rd Ed
  • Troubleshooting: A Technician’s Guide, 2nd Ed

Recommended Resources:

  • Fundamentals of Process Control Theory, 3rd Edition

If you wish to register offline, download the Training Registration Form, complete, and return to ISA with your payment.