Layers of APC Software Tools

Oct. 3, 2012
The many choices and approaches to APC software can be confusing, and tools are available both from DCS vendors and third parties.

John Caldwell, APC product marketing manager at Emerson Process Management (, Austin, Texas, says Emerson intentionally blurs the lines between the advanced regulatory and advanced process control in an effort to make advanced control overall more accessible and easier to use.

“In what is considered a regulatory control application, we allow you to do model identification. We try to make the tools available, [because] the accessibility of the tools is important too,” says Caldwell. “Customers are busy. It’s hard to get IT departments to bless [an APC application] and get it up and running.  We put in APC tools as a standard part of our control system, and include regular updates of that software with the DCS.”

Because APC software is made up of many individual applications, unified updates can go a long way toward improving ease of use. The following functional list of APC software applications from Yokogawa Corp. of America ( illustrates the layers within APC software itself. It was provided by Saravanan Prabakaran, advanced process control specialist.

· Data Collection Tool. OPC server software is often used. Yokogawa provides ExaOPC server, although Yokogawa’s APC can communicate with any OPC server.

· Identification tool. This is for identification of the model. Yokogawa’s AIDAPro also does data analysis.

· Offline Controller Build/Simulation Tool. SMOCPro is available for building and simulating the complex multi variable controls.

· Online Controller. ExaSMOC is Yokogawa’s tool for running the APC online and communicating with any DCS.

· Soft Sensor. This tool, ExaRQE, is for predicting the quality parameters that are difficult to measure with analyzers.

· Integration Tool. ExaITG is for communicating with multiple OPC servers.

· Automatic Step Test Tool. QUESTPro performs step tests in the plant automatically.

· Diagnostics Tool. MDPro is for monitoring, analyzing and reporting controller performance.

>> Read Automation World's complete coverage: Zeroing In On Advanced Process Control