I'd like to study process automation by myself, could you suggest a good entry-level book to start with?

I have engineering college math level and I remember a bit of Laplace transforms to model systems. I have successfully implemented many simple PID and fuzzy logic control with microcontrollers, like tank-level control, pH and more.

My goal are to model systems, test automation strategies in Simulink (instead of time-domain simulations like I did until now), and be able to solve multivariate/interactive situations through decoupling (RGA etc.)

Any suggestion would be very appreciated!


  • \$\begingroup\$ What type of process do you mean? Electronic? Mechanical? Chemical? Factory production lines? \$\endgroup\$ – jDAQ Jan 28 '20 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, ain't Simulink pretty much time-domain simulation? Whether it is discrete or an approximation of the continuous modeled system. \$\endgroup\$ – jDAQ Jan 28 '20 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jDAQ I used other tool than Simulink to make time domain simulation (check goldsim). Using Simulink or Labview is standard in process automation with pre-programmed blocks Yes, physical (mostly tank level), chemical processes (pH, other reactions). Today my issue is really to deal with interactive systems and I find that I am not comfortable with the basics when it comes to read about RGA. \$\endgroup\$ – Vinlar Jan 28 '20 at 21:01

As an entry-level book I can recommend Modern Control Engineering from Ogata. It teaches system modelling and control theory, just what you're looking for.

Also, take a look at Scilab and Xcos, which are open-source alternatives to Matlab and Simulink respectively. Since these are open source, there is a lot of free information for these platforms on process automation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ From the "...be able to solve multivariate/interactive situations through decoupling (RGA etc.)" part I supposed he knew the basics of control and was looking for something more specific, specially related to huge systems in which that decoupling could help optimize separately each process. \$\endgroup\$ – jDAQ Jan 28 '20 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I managed to implement PID without doing any Laplace Transform, just using differential equations and time-based calculations. In most case, I ended doing online tuning using Ziegler Nichols criteria. Preface says "The reader is expected to have fulfilled the following prerequisites: introductory courses on differential equations, Laplace transforms, vector-matrix analysis, circuit analysis, mechanics, and introductory thermodynamics." \$\endgroup\$ – Vinlar Jan 28 '20 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh well, then you are in for a big trip discovering state-space methods. \$\endgroup\$ – jDAQ Jan 28 '20 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, did you mean you implemented a PID algorithm one time or had a whole class on controls and never used a Laplace transform? Anyway, for linear time-invariant SISO systems the approach should be very similar, but for MIMO and non-LTI only the time-domain approach works. \$\endgroup\$ – jDAQ Jan 28 '20 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jDAQ I never had a class. I did implement level control, pH control and some other physical/chemical control at industrial scale, in very practical approach. MIMO gives me problems (let's say controlling levels in a serie of connected tanks), that's why I'd like to learn decoupling theory/application. What is LTI? \$\endgroup\$ – Vinlar Jan 28 '20 at 23:02

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