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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO.

1, JANUARY 1998

43

Rule-Based Autotuning Based on Frequency


Domain Identification
Anthony S. McCormack and Keith R. Godfrey

Abstract A frequency domain procedure is proposed for


the automatic tuning of proportional integral derivative (PID)
controllers. The nonparametric open-loop frequency response
function is estimated on-line (in closed loop), and simple discriminatory parameters are obtained, which enable appropriate tuning
of the controller. For processes with some prior knowledge of the
dynamics, the method removes the need for relay tuning or openloop step response testing. If there is little or no prior knowledge
of the process dynamics, relay or step response testing can be
used initially, with the method then being used for the subsequent
tuning. As part of the paper, a comprehensive comparison of
existing rule-based tuning formulas is given using realistic plant
examples.
Index TermsAutomatic tuning, computer control, frequency
response, identification, perturbation signals, PID control, threeterm control.

I. INTRODUCTION

HE automatic tuning of proportional integral derivative


(PID) controller parameters is both an established feature of commercial controllers as well as a fruitful area of
academic research [1][4]. The requirements of commercial
auto tuners are two-fold. First, the controller must exhibit selfinitialization features in the face of no a priori knowledge of
the process dynamics. The relay excitation method [5], is attractive in this sense, since a control-relevant excitation signal
is generated automatically, and many tuning rules exist to utilize the resulting process information. The second requirement
is recalibration in the face of significant changes in the process
dynamics. This problem manifests itself regularly in many
industrial feedback loops, e.g., due to changeable loading
conditions and/or significant process nonlinearities. Retuning
of the controller parameters in this case is usually achieved
by performing another relay experiment, or alternatively an
open-loop step response.
The autotune approach detailed in this paper is based on
the use of multiharmonic excitation signals for frequency
response estimation. The use of such signals allows automated
identification to be carried out, with only modest calculations
required by the controller hardware. Inevitably, the scheme

Manuscript received April 2, 1996; revised July 7, 1997. Recommended


by Associate Editor, S. A. Malik. This work was supported by Grant GR/K
09373 from the U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
A. S. McCormack is with Tensor Technologies, Dublin 16, Ireland.
K. R. Godfrey is with the Department of Engineering, University of
Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, U.K.
Publisher Item Identifier S 1063-6536(98)00577-6.

relies on the integrity of the estimated frequency response. In


the face of significant unmeasurable disturbances, a number
of solutions are possible. One solution makes use of nonparametric averaging schemes, hence preserving the simple nature
of the identification procedure. Alternatively, the frequency
response function can be estimated via a parametric model,
with the ensuing problem of automating a procedure which
is usually solved in an interactive fashion, e.g., structure
selection/model validation. The former approach is concentrated upon here, with the proviso that stochastic disturbances
can be countered somewhat with amplitude selection and
nonparametric smoothing [6], together with an estimate of the
coherence function.
The layout of this paper is as follows. Section II describes
the common rationale involved in the automatic tuning of
three-term controllers. Section II also lists tuning rules which
have been developed as alternatives to those of Ziegler and
Nichols [7]. Section III discusses periodic signal design and
the closed-loop identification of the process (open-loop) frequency response. The paper ends with the application of
the techniques to a number of systems, which illustrate the
practical nature of the approach.

II. RULE-BASED CONTROLLER DESIGN


The tuning rules to be used in subsequent sections are
introduced here to set the scene for the requirements of
the system identification. Attention is restricted to tuning
formulas, due to the acceptance of ZieglerNichols (ZN)
type rules in industry, and also due to the proliferation of
competing designs. The performance of the feedback loop
is generally prescribed in terms of the transient response to
setpoint changes [3], [8], [9], load disturbances [3], [10], or
frequency domain criteria such as the symmetric optimum [4].
These will now be discussed in turn.
A. Tuning Formulas
A large number of control system design methods now exist
which, unlike the majority of design methods, do not require
a parametric transfer function model of the process. Instead
a nonparametric representation of the system is assumed,
and identification methods that can be easily automated are
used to obtain the process information. Frequency-domain
representations are most popular, with many control system
tuning formulas available which require either one or two
frequency response measurements.

10636536/98$10.00 1998 IEEE

44

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

available for both setpoint and load changes. Note that ISTE
tuning formulas are not available for simultaneous setpoint
tracking and load rejection, i.e., for two degree of freedom
controllers. The formulas require knowledge of
and
,
along with the static gain of the system.
3) Pessen Integral of Absolute Error (PIAE): Pessen remarks in [10] that the ZN tuning formulas were developed
for interacting controllers, i.e., PID controllers which do not
have the ideal PID relationship

Fig. 1. General regulating and tracking PID controller.

Eight such tuning formulas are assessed in later sections.


Although the main emphasis of the work reported here is
directed toward improving the identification of the process
dynamics, it is worthwhile here to give a brief summary of
each tuning formula. The two degree of freedom controller
shown in Fig. 1 allows each tuning rule to be encapsulated.
The numerator polynomial,
, of the prefilter differs from
only in the weighting of the signals
and
, the
reference and output, respectively.
The tuning rules require knowledge of either one or two
points of the process frequency response. Ideally, knowledge
of the plant structure (not necessarily parameterized), time
delays, and normalized quantities such as
(1)
for FOPDT models of the form
(2)
and the normalized gain
(3)
is the critical gain, are useful in PID design
where
[1]. The frequency domain identification procedure developed
here, specifically sets out to deliver an accurate estimate of
the system frequency response. This may then be used in a
straightforward manner to estimate the model order [11] and
time delay, as well as quantities such as and . Due to the
restricted set of models typically found in autotune PID loops,
this procedure can be easily automated.
1) ZieglerNichols (ZN): This formula for single degree of
freedom controllers was initially designed to give a quarter
decay ratio response to load disturbances [7]. It requires
, and critical period,
,
knowledge of the critical gain,
i.e., the inverse of the system gain and frequency at which
the phase is 180 . Since the tuning formula is intended for
load disturbances, oscillatory transient responses to setpoint
changes typically result from its use.
2) Integral of Squared Time Weighted Error (ISTE):
Following on from work carried out on the optimal design of
PID controllers for transfer function models [12], Zhuang and
Atherton proposed tuning formulas which are ISTE optimal for
FOPDT models [3]. Using their formulation, tuning rules are

(4)
and
are the PID parameters and
and
represent the actuation and error signals, respectively.
For this reason, Pessen claims that the ZN formulas have been
misapplied whenever the PID controller has a form similar to
(4). As an alternative, he proposes IAE formulas for FOPDT
models. As with the ZN formulas, the PIAE rules apply for
and
is required.
load disturbances. Knowledge of
4) Kessler Landau Voda (KLV): This rule attempts to
achieve the symmetric optimum, originally proposed by
Kessler [13]. The model used to represent the system contains
a sum of long compensatable time-constants, along with a
sum of small parasitic time constants, which may include a
delay [4]. The design goal is to have the crossover frequency
rad/s, where
of the compensated system equal to
is the sum of the parasitics, and for the PID controller to give
a magnitude slope of 20 dB/dec two octaves to the left of
the crossover and one octave to the right of the crossover.
The KLV tuning formulas require the gain of the system and
the frequency at which the phase is 135 . The authors also
consider setpoint weighting to improve the transient response.
5) Some Overshoot Rule (SO-OV): This formula is a simple modification of the ZN tuning rule, in order to achieve
reduced overshoots to setpoint changes [8].
6) No Overshoot Rule (NO-OV): Similar to the SO-OV
rule, with the intention of giving no overshoot in the response
to setpoint changes [8]. The proportional gain of the ZN rule
is reduced by a factor of three, with derivative time being
increased by nearly the same factor.
7) MantzTacconi ZieglerNichols (MT-ZN): Mantz and
Tacconi propose in [14] a two degree of freedom controller to
achieve the regulatory performance of the ZN rule, along with
improved setpoint control through the use of a setpoint prefilter
om [15], they
(a static element). Using an interpretation by Astr
propose a weighting of the setpoint in the proportional and
derivative terms of the controller. The weights are selected
to cancel the under-damped complex conjugate poles which
typically result from ZN tuning. Their rules are applicable
to minimum phase systems, and their modification to the ZN
and
tuning rule is independent of the system dynamics.
are required.
8) Refined ZieglerNichols (R-ZN): This rule incorporates
knowledge of the normalized gain, , or normalized deadtime, , into the ZN tuning rule [9]. The rule results from a
correlation between the overshoot (and undershoot) expected
where

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

45

(a)

(b)

Fig. 2. (a) Time-domain realization of multisine with snow signal specified to have a broad-band spectrum. (b) amplitude spectrum.

Fig. 3. Power spectra for 15 harmonic multiharmonic signal (with maximum absolute value of unity) and pseudo random binary signal of length 255
(with amplitude levels 1).

from using the ZN formulas with models typically associated


with PID control. Two cases are considered. The first is
appropriate for large values of the normalized gain , or small
normalized dead-time, , while the second applies to small
or large . The former case is treated using setpoint weighting
(related to ) in the proportional term of the controller, while
the latter requires both setpoint weighting and a reduction

of the ZN value for the integral time, again related to .


and
as well as the static gain of the
Knowledge of
system is required.
and
correspond to the gain of the
In Table I,
system and frequency at which the system phase response is
135 .
is an acceleration factor taken between one and
two, and is assumed to be 1.5 (as suggested by the authors)

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

SUMMARY

OF

TABLE I
FREQUENCY DOMAIN TUNING RULES POSTULATED

Fig. 4. Feedback loop showing location of disturbance signals.

in this work.
and
are weights applied to the setpoint
in the proportional and derivative terms of the controller,
respectively.
III. FREQUENCY RESPONSE ESTIMATION
The proposed identification procedure allows many points
on the process Nyquist curve to be measured, simultaneously,
with a high accuracy. A prerequisite for this to be achieved
is an estimate of the bandwidth of the system. This is only
required at the initial tuning stage (commissioning of the
controller), and hence may be obtained using any conventional
system identification technique (including the use of a relay). It

FOR

PID CONTROLLERS

should be noted that in the examples given in the paper, relay


excitation is only used to measure the system bandwidth, when
no prior knowledge of the system dynamics is available. Values
for
and
are calculated from the resulting response to
give initial controller settings, which are then updated using the
frequency-domain identification technique. It is acknowledged
that if either the system is low-order or the relay contains
hysteresis, values for
and
are only approximations to
their true values.
The main advantage of the identification approach is the
excitation signal used. The design of this signal will now be
discussed.
A. Signal Design
Periodic excitations of the form
(5)
are used to excite the plant while in closed loop. The design
of the signal in (5) involves first the selection of the power
spectrum (components of
), followed by optimization of
the harmonic phases, , to increase the signal-to-noise ratio
[16]. In general a fixed signal (i.e., either the time-domain
samples or the harmonic information amplitudes), is desirable,

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

47

Fig. 5. Output of third-order system during tuning phase, followed by step response.

Fig. 6. Step responses for deterministic third-order system. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1),SO-OV (131), NO-OV (121),
MT-ZN ( o ), R-ZN ( 3 ).

since the optimization of the phases


is a computationally
expensive procedure. A narrow-band excitation with
(6)
where
, will mimic the action of a relay in the
frequency domain, with
harmonics centred around the a

priori estimate of , with bandwidth rad/s. This approach


is not adopted here, first because there is a high dependence
in the critical freon an assumed level of uncertainty
quency, and also because broad-band knowledge of the system
characteristics allows greater confidence to be placed in the
feedback design. A signal containing equal power in the first
15 consecutive harmonics is used for the results obtained

48

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

Fig. 7. Load responses for deterministic third-order system. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1),SO-OV (131), NO-OV (121).

in this work. This number of harmonics was found to be a


practical compromise between achieving sufficient coverage of
the process dynamics and ensuring that a reasonable amount
of power is present in each harmonic. The phases have been
method of Guillaume et al. [17]. The
optimized using the
) and amplitude spectra of
signal waveform (with
the excitation is shown in Fig. 2. It can be seen that arbitrary
nonzero amplitudes are present above harmonic 15. This effect
is known as snowing the spectrum, and generally allows
greater signal-to-noise ratios to be achieved at the desired
harmonics (115). For comparison purposes, Fig. 3 shows the
power spectrum of the multiharmonic signal as well as that of
. This has a
a pseudorandom binary signal of length
fixed power spectrum of the form [18]

(7)

is the amplitude level. It is clear that the ability


where
to specify an arbitrary power spectrum and optimize the
time-domain behavior of the signal has great benefits for
nonparametric identification.
Once the signal phases have been optimized, the fundaand number of samples
are the only
mental frequency
remaining variables. In selecting these, the desired bandwidth,
sampling rate and Nyquist conditions are the most important
considerations. The maximum frequency of interest dictates
the fundamental frequency. In this work, the maximum frequency (i.e., harmonic 15) is always placed one octave above
the critical frequency. This is believed to give good coverage
of the dynamic range of typical systems under PID control,

TABLE II
REFERENCE CONTROLLER PARAMETERS

FOR

THIRD-ORDER SYSTEM

and it also allows for a reasonably fast signal period. The


number of samples in the signal, , is selected to ensure
that the sampling frequency is at least 20 Hz, and also that
there is a minimum number of 240 samples. The limit on
the sampling frequency is heuristic, but it does ensure that
the systems treated in later sections are accommodated. If the
output is sampled at the same frequency as the clock rate of the
excitation, the bound on ensures that the Nyquist frequency
is at least three times greater than the maximum frequency in
the excitation.
It is clear that the amplitude and phase information is the
most flexible way to store the signal in the controller. In
practice, the frequency range of the signal, and hence , has
to be set based on some predetermined knowledge or estimate
of the system crossover frequency. This procedure is straightforward once the initial commissioning of the controller has

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

49

(a)

(b)
Fig. 8. Empirical frequency response estimates for the third-order system Mean (), 1:

been carried out, but during the commissioning, if no accurate


knowledge of the system dynamics is available, a bandwidth
estimation procedure is necessary. A simple technique which
may be readily automated makes use of a relay excitation. The
second application considered in Section IV makes use of this
procedure. It should be stressed however that, at most, one
relay experiment is needed during the operation of controller,

 uncertainty region ( ) and nominal (1).

and may indeed be dispensed with if approximate knowledge


of the system dynamics is available.
B. Nonparametric Estimation
During the identification, the feedback loop is assumed to
be of the form shown in Fig. 4. The multifrequency signal
is added to the reference, during the tuning phase. For this

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

(c)
Fig. 8. (Continued.) Empirical frequency response estimates for the third-order system Mean (), 1:

 uncertainty region ( ) and nominal (1).

Fig. 9. Step responses for the third-order system in the presence of stochastic disturbances. ZN (o), ISTE (3),NO-OV (121), R-ZN ( 3 ).

periodic excitations, the estimate of

system, the spectral analysis estimate

is calculated as
(9)

(8)
yields an unbiased estimate of the frequency response of the
process,
, even with nonzero
and/or
[19]. With

and
representing the Fourier coefficients
with
of the th period of the excitation and closed-loop response,
respectively. The estimate
is defined similarly.

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

MEAN

AND

STANDARD DEVIATION

51

OF THE

TABLE III
CONTROLLER PARAMETERS

FOR THE

THIRD-ORDER SYSTEM

Fig. 10. Step responses for deterministic first-order plus time delay system. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1), SO-OV (131),
NO-OV (121), MT-ZN ( o ), R-ZN ( 3 ).

In [19], Wellstead shows that, for

estimated as in (8)
(10)

is the number of periods of the perturbation signal


where
over which the data has been averaged,
is the power
spectral density of the noise signal
, and
is the
closed-loop frequency response. An important point to note
is that for a given noise level and a particular value of ,
the variance is low around the crossover frequency (i.e., the
frequency at which the forward path phase is 180 )a point
brought out clearly by Gevers in [20]. This is a very helpful
result for this application, because for the PID controllers
considered, the phase of the controller is reasonably small at
the frequency,
, at which the phase of the process,

, is 180 . For example, for a ZN controller, the


controller phase,
, at this frequency is only 25 . Thus,
in the region around which we are interested, the variance of
is relatively low.
The accuracy of the experiment may be easily assessed
using the coherence function
(11)
The Fourier coefficients of the actuation and response signals are calculated recursively during the application of the
excitation signal.
It is assumed here that the amplitude of the excitation is
selected to comply with the maximum level of disturbance that

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

Fig. 11. Load responses for deterministic first-order plus time delay system. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1), SO-OV
(131), NO-OV (121).

TABLE IV
REFERENCE CONTROLLER PARAMETERS FOR
FIRST-ORDER PLUS TIME-DELAY SYSTEM

may be present at the output of the process during the tuning


phase, in a similar fashion to the procedure adopted for relay
experiments. It is also assumed that the setpoint is nonzero
during the identification which allows the dc component of
the Fourier data to be used in estimating the dc gain of the
system under control. If this is not the case, the period before
or after the application of the signal may be used to estimate
this information.
The results presented in Section IV correspond to averaging
the spectral terms over two periods of steady-state data. This
figure is adopted to enable the use of the coherence function
in assessing the accuracy of the frequency response estimates.
The uncertainty on the coherence function after two periods
is very high, but at the signal-to-noise ratios achievable with
multiharmonic signals in typical PID feedback loops, this is

not deemed a problem. This assumption is vindicated by the


examples of Section IV.
In applications where significant disturbances affect the
feedback loop, smoothing techniques may be necessary to
reduce the scatter of the empirical frequency response. A
natural solution is either to average the response over a
greater number of periods of the excitation or to use a
parametric identification scheme which can greatly reduce the
resulting uncertainty. Both of these solutions have significant
drawbacks. Increasing the number of periods of the excitation
may lead to an excessively long tuning time, while using a
parametric identification scheme considerably increases the
required computations and effectively cancels the great advantage of using a periodic excitation with a low number
of harmonics. Neither of these approaches has been adopted
here. Once the frequency response function and coherence
function have been calculated, all estimates with a coherence
of less than 0.75 are rejected. Nonparametric smoothing is
then employed with the use of a median filter. This reduces
the scatter of the frequency response estimates significantly.
The frequency response may be used to find the model order
using the slope of the magnitude curve, and whether the system
is nonminimum phase (and if so a representative value of the
time-delay), in a similar fashion to that proposed in [11]. This
knowledge is generally useful in tuning PID controllers [1].
IV. APPLICATIONS
The results obtained from applying the frequency domain
techniques to three systems are presented here. The systems
are 1) a minimum-phase third-order system; 2) a first-order
plus dead-time process; and 3) a hot-air flow device. In each
case the accuracy of the frequency response is assessed, as

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

53

Fig. 12.

Output of first-order plus time-delay system during tuning phase, followed by step response.

Fig. 13.

Step responses for the first-order plus time delay system in the presence of stochastic disturbances. ZN (o), KLV (2),NO-OV (121).

well as each systems response to setpoint changes and load


disturbances. All the results have been obtained using an automatic tuning virtual instrument created using the LabVIEW
development system [21].
A. Third-Order System
The system here is implemented on a hardware simulator
(Feedback Instruments Ltd. PCS327), and has a nominal

transfer function of
(12)
For the ideal case where no disturbances are present in the
feedback loop, Fig. 5 shows the output signal during the tuning
phase. It is assumed that commissioning of the controller has
been carried out and that an initial estimate of the critical gain

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

(a)

(b)
Fig. 14.

Empirical frequency response estimates for the first-order plus time delay system Mean (), 1: uncertainty region ( ), and nominal (1).

and period are available from the nominal transfer function.


The maximum useful harmonic of the excitation is placed one
octave above the initial estimate (0.27 Hz), which gives 0.54
Hz. The number of samples of the signal is selected to give
a sampling frequency of at least 20 Hz, with the minimum
being 240 samples, as discussed in Section III-A. In this case
the number of samples is 540. Two and a quarter periods of

the signal are added to the setpoint, with the initial quarter
of the first period being discarded due to the presence of
transients. Following the tuning period shown in Fig. 5 a ZN
step-response occurs.
The controller parameters for each of the rule-based designs
and
are shown in Table II. The values estimated for
are 7.51 and 3.7 s, respectively. The PID parameters for the

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

55

(c)
Fig. 14. (Continued.) Empirical frequency response estimates for the first-order plus time-delay system Mean (), 1: uncertainty region ( ),
and nominal (1).

MEAN

AND

STANDARD DEVIATION

OF THE

TABLE V
CONTROLLER PARAMETERS

Refined ZN rule are the same as the ZN and the MT-ZN


and
rules, with only the setpoint filtering parameters
changing. Step and load responses for this system with the
parameters given in Table II are shown in Figs. 6 and 7,
respectively.
With this system, the ISTE and KLV rules give the best
tracking performance followed closely by the R-ZN rule. The
advantage of the two degree of freedom controller is clear by
the superior load response of the R-ZN rule. The SO-OV and
NO-OV rules give sluggish load disturbance rejection and also
do not lead to low overshoot when compared to the other rules.
The PIAE rule leads to the best load rejection, which is its
intended use. Although ISTE tuning formulas are available for
disturbance rejection, both tracking and disturbance rejection

FOR THE

FIRST-ORDER PLUS TIME-DELAY SYSTEM

properties are felt to be important here. The MT-ZN rule


reduces the overshoot obtained with the ZN rule slightly.
Gaussian noise with a root mean square (rms) value of
0.1 V and a bandwidth of 15 Hz was then added to the
process output while in the feedback path. The frequency
response was repeated under the same conditions 25 times.
The mean magnitude and phase of the frequency response
estimates together with the coherence function are shown in
Fig. 8. Estimated uncertainty regions (one standard deviation)
for each of these quantities are also shown. The magnitude and
phase plots include the frequency response function estimated
when no noise was added to the feedback loop. As can be
seen the frequency response estimates are effectively unbiased
and generally have a high coherence. The mean and standard

56

Fig. 15.

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

Output of hot-air flow device during the tuning phase, followed by step response.

deviation of the 25 sets of controller parameters are shown


in Table III. Typical step responses are shown in Fig. 9. The
number of rules shown is limited to four due to the scattered
nature of the data.
From this application it can be concluded that the identification method gives very accurate results in the presence
of modest stochastic disturbances. The coherence function
provides a useful indicator of the accuracy of each frequency
response estimate, even when calculated from just two periods
of the excitation.
B. First-Order Plus Dead Time System
The system under investigation in this section has a nominal
transfer function of
(13)
This is implemented on a hardware simulator (Feedback
Instruments Ltd. PCS327), in which a Pade approximation of
unknown (low) order is used to represent the time-delay. It is
assumed here that no a priori estimate of the system bandwidth
is available, and so a limit cycle is used. A standard procedure
in this situation is to monitor the process output to determine
a suitable value for the relay hysteresis (to prevent relay
chattering), and then to measure several periods of the limit
cycle data [22]. With no disturbances affecting the feedback
loop (and hence no hysteresis), tuning was carried out with the
limit cycle yielding approximate values for the critical gain and
frequency of 0.432 and 0.275 Hz, respectively. Using the estimate of the critical frequency, the maximum frequency is set
to 0.551 Hz, with equal to 548. Two and a quarter periods of
the excitation were used to estimate the frequency response,
which resulted in the parameter values shown in Table IV.

The values estimated for


and
are 2.27 and 3.66 s,
respectively. Step and load responses for this system with the
parameters given in Table IV are shown in Figs. 10 and 11,
respectively. With step changes in this system the R-ZN, the
MT-ZN and ISTE rules produce very similar results with a
low overshoot. The KLV rule produces a similar response but
with a greater undershoot. This time the SO-OV and NO-OV
rules produce low overshoot and no overshoot, respectively.
The PIAE rule gives a similar response to that of the ZN
rule. With the load disturbance, the PIAE rule again gives
the fastest response, and the ISTE rule also performs well,
even though both formulas are intended for optimum tracking
performance. As with the third-order system the SO-OV
and NO-OV rules produce slow disturbance rejection.
A Gaussian noise source with bandwidth 15 Hz and rms
value of 0.3 V was added to the output of the process inside the
feedback loop. The tuning cycle is shown in Fig. 12. As can
be seen, significant disturbances affect the output. The output
is monitored for approximately 8 s, followed by a number
of periods of a limit cycle. The limit cycle yielded values
for the critical gain and frequency as 0.694 and 0.231 Hz,
respectively. The error in the limit cycle estimates is mainly
due to the significant hysteresis present in the relay to combat
the disturbance. The multifrequency signal is added to the
23 s and is removed at
96 s. A sample of
setpoint at
the resulting step responses is shown in Fig. 13. The frequency
response estimation was repeated 25 times, as in Section IV-A.
The mean magnitude, phase, and coherence together with the
uncertainty intervals are shown in Fig. 14. The frequency
response estimate when the noise source is absent is also
shown. The mean of the resulting controller parameters and
their standard deviations is shown in Table V. The uncertainty
of proportional gain has increased, but it is clear that the

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

57

(a)

(b)
Fig. 16.

Empirical frequency response estimates for the hot-air flow device. Mean (), 1:

identification together with the median smoothing method has


given very reliable estimates in the presence of very high
disturbance levels. Again the use of the coherence function
allows reliable gain and frequency estimates to be selected in
a simple and reliable manner. This example has been included
mainly to illustrate the accuracy of the identification results.
The level of noise is thought to be higher than would be
encountered in most practical situations.

 uncertainty region ( ), and nominal (1).

C. Hot-Air Flow Device


The system under investigation here is a PT 326 hot-air
flow device available from Feedback Instruments Ltd. Air is
blown through an electric heater, the power to which may be
controlled. The temperature of the air is measured at the end
of a plastic tube connected to the fan. This system represents
quite a realistic example since it has a limited linear range
and has an internal noise source due to turbulence within

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

(c)
Fig. 16.

(Continued.) Empirical frequency response estimates for the hot-air flow device. Mean (), 1:

 uncertainty region ( ), and nominal (1).

Fig. 17. Step responses for hot-air flow device. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1), SO-OV (131), NO-OV (121), MT-ZN
( o ), R-ZN ( 3 ).

the plastic tube. The same procedure is followed here as was


adopted in Section IV-A. The output of the process during the
initial tuning cycle is shown in Fig. 15. The manufacturers
data suggested a value of 1.23 Hz for the 180 crossover
frequency and so the bandwidth of the excitation is set to 2.46
Hz, resulting in
, with a sampling frequency of 40.07

Hz. The period of the excitation signal is approximately 6 s.


The frequency response estimation was carried out 25 times
and controller parameters calculated for each rule. Fig. 16
shows the mean frequency response estimate together with
the coherence function and their standard deviations. It can be
seen that the frequency response estimate has a high accuracy,

MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

Fig. 18.

59

Load responses for hot-air flow device. ZN (o), ISTE (3), KLV (2), PIAE (1o1),SO-OV (131), NO-OV (121).

MEAN

AND

STANDARD DEVIATION

OF THE

TABLE VI
CONTROLLER PARAMETERS

with a coherence of almost unity across the frequency range.


The resulting controller parameters are given in Table VI. The
and
are 4.88 and 0.76 s,
mean values estimated for
respectively. Step and load responses for the system with each
set of controller parameters are shown in Figs. 17 and 18,
respectively.
The step response obtained with the ISTE rule exhibits
minimal overshoot and a fast rise-time, with the KLV being
slightly more oscillatory. The ZN, PIAE, R-ZN, and MT-ZN
rules produce a single overshoot with the setpoint weighting of
the R-ZN and MT-ZN reducing the magnitude of the overshoot
slightly. The SO-OV and NO-OV rules produce slow response
times with large significant overshoots. The load responses of
the ZN and PIAE rules exhibit the fastest settling times with,
(as with the other systems), the SO-OV and NO-OV rules

FOR THE

HOT-AIR FLOW DEVICE

producing very sluggish responses. The ISTE rule results in


a slower settling time than for the ZN and PIAE rules, but
again ISTE rules are available for load rejection if this is
the only design goal. The KLV rule also produces sluggish
performance.
V. CONCLUSION
Most commercial autotuners use one of three methods for
updating the PID controller parameters. In the first, normal
control is interrupted, a relay is inserted in the loop in
place of the controller, and the amplitude and period of the
resulting limit cycle are measured. The controller parameters
are updated and the controller is switched back into the loop.
Some suggestions for using relay excitation with closed-loop
om [23]. The second approach opens
systems are given by Astr

60

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON CONTROL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, VOL. 6, NO. 1, JANUARY 1998

the loop, measures at least part of an open-loop step response


of the process, and then closes the feedback loop again. The
controller parameters are updated on the basis of the step
response. The third approach involves switching off full power
before the setpoint is reached and then estimating
and
from the resulting transient. All of these approaches involve
interruption of the normal closed-loop control, which is an
undesirable feature.
In this paper, an alternative approach, in which closedloop operation is maintained throughout, has been investigated.
The approach uses frequency domain system identification
techniques to estimate the open-loop frequency response of
the process from data obtained while the loop is closed. Periodic excitations have been used, enabling frequency response
estimates to be obtained in closed loop at comparatively high
signal-to-noise ratios. The identification experiment may be
automated easily, and only a modest amount of computation
is needed.
The identification techniques have been applied to three
realistic examples, and it has been shown that reliable results
have been obtained in all three situations. An arbitrary number
of frequency response estimates may be obtained, thereby
allowing more confidence to be placed in the controller design
and/or further processing of the frequency response.
In all three examples, a comparatively broadband perturbation signal has been used. This consisted of a multifrequency
(sum-of-harmonics) signal with the specified harmonics being
one to 15 consecutively. It is, of course, essential that the
bandwidth of the signal contains the frequency (or frequencies)
of interest, and this may require some prior knowledge of
the process dynamics. In the first example (Section IV-A),
a hardware simulator was used to simulate a third-order
process, and the highest frequency of interest (the negative real
axis crossover point) was known with good accuracy. In the
second example (Section IV-B), although the same hardware
simulator was used, there was some uncertainty about the
way in which the pure time-delay was approximated in the
simulator. In this case, it was assumed that no prior knowledge
of the dynamics was available, and to obtain an initial estimate
of the system dynamics, a relay was inserted into the loop,
although with level of noise present, this had to incorporate
significant hysteresis to prevent relay chattering. It should
be emphasised that the relay was only used in the first tune and
not subsequently. Further, it is felt that, in most applications,
prior knowledge of the process dynamics is likely to make the
initial relay phase unnecessary. This was certainly the case
in the third example (Section IV-C), where manufacturers
data provided reasonably good prior knowledge of the process
dynamics.
In theory, a signal containing fewer harmonics, with more
power in each harmonic, could have been used, but it is
essential to trade off possible inaccuracies in prior knowledge,
and changing process dynamics, against reducing the number
of harmonics. This is certainly a topic for further research.
A notable feature of recent research has been the interest in
improving on the performance of the widely quoted ZN tuning
rules, which date from 1942. As part of the present paper eight
tuning rules (including those of Ziegler and Nichols) have been

compared, in terms of both setpoint (tracking) and disturbance


(regulating) control. The availability of tuning rules for two
degree of freedom controllers allows both criteria to be treated
for a given set of PID parameters.
In summary, a new approach to autotune controller design
has been proposed. Except in the case of processes in which
there is very little prior knowledge of the dynamics, the
method removes the need for relay tuning or open-loop step
response tuning. The dynamics are estimated in normal closedloop operation, with a small-amplitude signal added to the
setpoint during the tuning phase. The techniques have been
shown to work well on three examples, the first a hardware
simulated process, the second a hardware simulated process
with a considerable amount of noise present, and the third a
laboratory-scale heating process.
REFERENCES
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Instrument Soc. Amer., Research Triangle Park, NC, 1988.
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controllers, Inst. Elect. Eng. Proc., Pt. D, vol. 140, no. 3, pp. 216224,
1993.
[4] A. Voda and I. D. Landau, A method for the auto-calibration of PID
controllers, Automatica, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 4153, 1995.
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[5] K. J. Astr
with specifications on phase and amplitude margins, Automatica, vol.
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[6] W. H. Press, B. P. Flannery, S. A. Teukolsky, and W. T. Vetterling,
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Press, 1989.
[7] J. G. Ziegler and N. B. Nichols, Optimum settings for automatic
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and Control. New York: Wiley, 1989.
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[9] C. C. Hang, K. J. Astr
ZieglerNichols tuning formula, Inst. Elect. Eng. Proc., Pt. D, vol.
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[10] D. W. Pessen, A new look at PID-controller tuning, Trans. Amer. Soc.
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[11] M. Lundh and K. J. Astr
self-tuning controller, Automatica, vol. 30, no. 11, pp. 16491662,
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[12] D. P. Atherton and M. Zhuang, Tuning PID controllers with integral performance criteria, in Inst. Elect. Eng. Int. Conf. Contr. 91,
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[13] C. Kessler, Das symmetrische optimum, Regelungstetechnik, vol. 6,
no. 11, pp. 395400, 1958.
[14] R. J. Mantz and E. J. Tacconi, Complementary rules to Ziegler and
Nichols rules for a regulating and tracking controller, Int. J. Contr.,
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[15] K. J. Astr
Lund Inst. Technol., Tech. Rep. TFRT-3167, 1982.
[16] K. Godfrey, Introduction to perturbation signals for frequency-domain
system identification, in Perturbation Signals for System Identification,
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MCCORMACK AND GODFREY: RULE-BASED AUTOTUNING

[22] T. Hagglund, Process Control in Practice. Bromley, U.K.: ChartwellBratt, 1991.


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Anthony S. McCormack received the bachelors


degree in electrical engineering from the University
of Glamorgan in 1991 and the Ph.D. degree for work
on system identification and signal processing from
the Department of Engineering at the University of
Warwick, Coventry, U.K., in 1995.
From 1991 to 1995 he was a Research Fellow in
the Department of Engineering at the University of
Warwick working on experiment design for system
identification and the application of frequency domain identification to autotune control systems. He
is Operations Manager of the Real-time Systems Group at Tensor Technologies
in Dublin, Ireland. His main research interests are in frequency domain system
identification and process control.

61

Keith R. Godfrey received the Doctor of Science


degree from the University of Warwick, Coventry,
U.K., in 1990 for publications with the collective
title Applications of Modeling, Identification, and
Parameter Estimation in Engineering and Biomedicine.
He is Head of the Electrical and Control Group in
the Department of Engineering at the University of
Warwick. He is author of a book on compartmental
modeling published by Academic Press in 1983 and
is coeditor of Signal Processing for Control (New
York: Springer, 1986). He is also editor (and author of the first two chapters) of
Perturbation Signals for System Identification (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall, 1993) (now available from the editor). He is author or coauthor of more
than 150 papers.