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Introduction to Digital Process Control and Industrial Data Communication for Process Control

Thomas Mason, P.E.

Course Outline

This three-hour course discusses the underlying principles of process control, the opportunities available from a small computer in the controller, very general selection of components and connection for centralized monitoring and supervisory control. Concepts can be applied to benefit for small commercial operations, large industrial plants and commercial building automation. Drawings and photographs illustrate the concepts. The reference list shows sources for economical components and sophisticated integrated systems.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Course Introduction

The goal of installation of automatic controls is always to improve yield and reduce man-hour investment per unit. In an office building, the centralized supervisory control and monitoring systems (SCADA) described here must reduce the number of tenant complaints and reduce the number of full-time staff needed to keep the building systems running. In a municipal transit system, the SCADA must improve security of the transfer stations while eliminating the tour guard who visits each station several times each night. In a neighborhood garage, the automated tailpipe bender must reduce the required inventory on hand, reduce net cost of materials for an exhaust system replacement and reduce the clock time invested in the job. In a plant, the SCADA must reduce wastage, reduce downtime and eliminate one or more persons per shift.

SCADA systems are performing well in each of these applications. This course will introduce the features and limitations of automatic control, so that confidence is developed for expenditures to install automatic controls and central SCADA. (By the way, the DA in SCADA is Data Acquisition. It is the same as monitoring, but sounds like it belongs in a laboratory or flight control center.)

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file (648 KB) Introduction to Digital Process Control and Industrial Data Communication for Process Control. You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

This course covered the concepts, methods and available products for digital process control and industrial data communication for process control. Focus was the process industries and manufacturing plants. It introduced concepts, approaches, devices and interconnection block diagrams. The links provide access to further training opportunities, equipment and software suppliers. Following successful review of the reference material and the associated examination, the student should be able to discuss digital process control and industrial data communications with sales persons and management representatives. The student should be able to design prototype monitoring and control systems and write meaningful specifications for more sophisticated monitoring and control systems.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

Process Control Training
Instrument Society of America -
ExperTune -

Documentation Standards
Instrument Society of America -
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -

Statistical Process Control
American Society for Quality -
[Handbook of Quality Control - available at most libraries]

Hazard Analysis process_hazard_analysis.htm

Single Loop Controller Sources
Extech -
Eurotherm -
Honeywell -
Foxboro -
Siemens -

Sensor Sources -

Actuator Sources -

NEMA 4X boxes, Oiltight Operators
Graybar -
Square D -
Automation Direct -

Relays, Elapsed Time Meters, Counters
Cutler-Hammer -
Square D -
Potter and Brumfield -
Struthers-Dunn -

Remote input / output
Phoenix - interbus/ea_feld/asi/eamodule.html
Weidmueller -
Automation Direct -

RS-485 (ModBus) Hardware and Cable
TopWorx -
EmersonProcess -
RedPointControls -
Stonel -
SixNetIO -
RedLion-Controls -

Cat 5 UTP Hardware and Cable
Anixter -
Black Box -
RelComInc -
GarretCom -

Data Communications Standards

Human Machine Interface
Think-n-Do -
WonderWare -
Ifix - ifix/default.asp
National LabView -
Rockwell - products/visualization.cfm

General Motors standard plant electrical metering - train_tenant_dimensions.pdf
General Electric Metering System -
Square D Metering System -


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.