This document is an expanded abstract.

Summary

Cooperative distributed model predictive control is receiving significant attention as a major next generation MPC technology and key component in unlocking the potential of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Cooperative distributed control enables a distributed network of cooperating controllers to collaborate towards a common objective without use of a centralised coordinator or optimiser. In addition to presenting a simple, modular route to plant-wide control and optimisation, the exciting potential is as a general approach to distributed MPC application within an IIoT framework.

Introduction

MPC has been the de-facto advanced control technology used in the oil and gas sector to optimise refineries and petrochemical plants for many decades. Saving many millions of dollars per year in energy and increasing profits through improved plant throughput and product yields. However, due to its perceived high cost, complexity and limited flexibility, MPC has seen limited adoption outside specific application areas. The inflexibility of existing MPC technology is particularly apparent when considering its application to large distributed but interdependent facilities. A further limiting factor has been the inability to incorporate future forecast of a changing environment into the control strategy.

Cooperative distributed control is an MPC based technology that overcomes these limitations. The solution enables a distributed network of controllers to collaborate towards a common objective without use of a centralised coordinator or optimiser, obeying all constraints of the network and utilising available future planning forecasts such as production changes or environmental conditions. By eliminating the centralised component, the technology can work within complex and geographically distributed control structures. Crucially the technology lends its self to a plug and play architecture allowing a new manipulated variable, controlled variable, disturbance variable or a new hardware device to be added to and automatically assimilated into the cooperative network with relative ease. The embedded capability of cooperative control enables it to be used for applications that are not addressed by existing solutions including compressors, fired heaters, steam systems etc. In addition, the technology is designed to address a new range of control problems including gas distribution networks, building control, power grid load management etc.

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