Introduction to Aspen Process Controller Builder - Modeling and Building Controllers for Industrial Processes

Course Id:  APC125   |   Duration:  3.00 day(s)   |   CEUs Awarded:  2.1   |   Level:  Introductory

Course Objective

At the end of this course, you will be able to explain the characteristics of linear, dynamic, and empirical models. You will identify a process model using APC Builder and decide whether to use FIR or SubSpace Modeling. You will be familiar with Aspen DMCplus controller functionality as well as calculation modules and sequences.

This course is equivalent to the final 3 days of APC105: Introduction to Aspen Process Controller Builder for APC Engineers.

Course Overview

  • Learn how to conceive, design and deploy an Aspen Advanced Process Control (APC) Application
  • Learn the characteristics of a Linear, Dynamic, Empirical Model
  • Learn how to use APC Builder to identify a process model
  • Be able to decide when to use FIR or SubSpace Modeling
  • Understand the importance of Collinearity Analysis
  • Learn to use the APC Builder software to develop control models, build control applications, and perform off-line tuning and simulation of control applications   
  • Learn the role of CV Ranks and Equal Concerns in the computation of the Steady State Targets
  • Learn to use MV/CV Costs to cause the steady state optimization to seek the most profitable operating point
  • See why multiple moves are calculated each control cycle
  • Learn how to use MV move suppression and CV Concerns to tradeoff move minimization versus CV error minimization
  • Learn how to implement variable transformations and custom built controller calculations
  • Become familiarized with the various Online tools associated with APC Builder


  • Acquire the skills and knowledge required to participate on or lead a team charged with the development and deployment of an Advanced Process Control application.
  • Know how to use APC Builder to identify a controller model before implementing the controller online
  • Increased effectiveness in troubleshooting and maintenance of Aspen DMCplus controllers
  • Increased awareness of the operating characteristics and capabilities of Aspen DMCplus controllers


  • Engineers who are designing or implementing new Aspen DMCplus controllers
  • Engineers who are maintaining existing Aspen DMCplus controllers
  • Operating supervisors and console operators who are involved in Aspen DMCplus control projects


  • Introduction to basic concepts behind  multivariable control 
  • Description of the theoretical concepts that form the basis of the Aspen DMCplus family of products
  • Demonstrations of the ways in which the offline tools are used
  • Hands on workshops that allow controller development concepts to be applied to typical plant processes
  • Concept review quizzes reinforce learning


Background in chemical process engineering and/or process operations
Some familiarity with Microsoft® Windows operating systems

Subsequent Courses

This course serves as a prerequisite for many of the more advanced courses.

  • APC170 Introduction to Aspen Inferential Qualities - Developing and Deploying Inferential Soft Sensors for Industrial Processes
  • APC210 Aspen Watch Performance Monitor - Real Time Monitoring and Maintaining Controllers Online
  • APC240 Aspen DMCplus - APC Project Step Testing and Commissioning Using a Virtual Plant
  • APC250 Aspen DMC3 - APC Calibrate and Aspen Adaptive Modeling

Class Schedule

Class Agenda

APC125: Introduction to Aspen Process Controller Builder - Modeling and Building Controllers for Industrial Processes

Modeling Terminology

  • Differentiate between Real Time Optimization and Advanced Control
  • Discuss the characteristics of an independent variable and a dependent variable
  • Review the definitions of a Unit Response Curve, Time to Steady State and Steady State Gain
  • Review the defining characteristics of a DMCplus Controller and the components comprising an Aspen APC Suite
  • Introduction to DMC3

APC Project Overview
  • Review the process for implementing an APC project
  • Discuss available alternatives and proper documentation procedures

Dynamic Modeling of Linear Systems
  • Review the definition of a dynamic, empirical, linear model and the technology of Finite Impulse Response (FIR) Modeling
  • Discuss the strengths and drawbacks of an FIR model

Model Identification in APC Builder
  • Familiarize with the APC Builder interface
  • Use the vector import tool to bring data into APC Builder
  • Review vector quality and perform data processing
  • Define and run model identification cases
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Build a finite impulse response model for a simple fractionator

Model Analysis in APC Builder
  • Define and Run Predictions
  • Understand and use model analysis tools
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Evaluate and assemble the model
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Fix collinearity issues in the model

Variable Transformations
  • Configure built in transforms to deal with non-linear data
  • Configure transforms to rescale data
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Apply variable transformation

SubSpace Identification Technology
  • Review modeling technology for MPC control
  • Subspace Identification: fundamentals and features
  • Aspen APC Builder - guidelines for Subspace modeling
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Build a subspace model for the fractionator 

Open Loop Prediction
  • Learn how DMCplus uses the dynamic model to predict the future behavior of controlled variables
  • Learn how DMCplus accounts for differences between the prediction and the actual measurements
  • Learn how DMCplus corrects predictions for ramp variables
  • Learn how prediction errors can be used to assess modeling errors
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Configure prediction error filter options

Steady-State Feasibility Check
  • Introduce the DMCplus Steady State Optimization features
  • Recognize how DMCplus uses the Steady State Predictions in Projecting the Optimum Operating Point for the Process
  • Differentiate between a Linear Program and a Quadratic Program

Economic Optimization
  • Determine how MV Costs can be used to drive the Process to an Economic Optimum
  • Determine how an external Optimizer can affect the DMCplus Steady State Solution
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Calculating Steady State Cost and configuring the Steady State Optimizer

Minimizing Dynamic Errors
  • Introduce DMCplus Dynamic Move Calculations features
  • Discuss how computing multiple future moves improves control
  • Make tradeoffs between move aggressiveness and error minimization
  • Explain how ramps are controlled dynamically
  • Review details of the Move Calculation
  • Review the tuning and simulation workflow in APC Builder
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Dynamic Tuning to adjust move suppressions to achieve smooth control

Calculations and Gain Scheduling
  • Configure input and output calculations to modify controller data
  • Configure gain scheduling to modify model gains on the fly
  • Configure and manage model switching
  • Workshop: Fractionator Controller - Configure custom built controller calculations

External Targets
  • Identify and explain the application of External Targets:
  • External Target Definitions
  • RTO and IRV Style External Targets
  • External Target Attributes

APC Builder Plant Connection and Tuning Configuration
  • Use the APC Builder to:
  • Connect the controller to the plant
  • Enable SmartStep and Composite participation
  • Workshop: DemoCol Controller - Configure plant connections

  • Identify and explain subcontroller concepts
  • Discuss MV and CV memberships in Subcontrollers
  • Subcontrollers and shedding
  • Introduction to Composites

Ramp Variable Techniques
  • Learn how to deal with process ramp variables by using one of the following types:
  • Balanced Ramps
  • Ramps with allowed Imbalance
  • Program Imbalance Ramps
  • Pseudo-ramps
  • Discuss the effects of the ramp horizon on ramp calculation
  • Workshop: DemoCol Controller  -Observe the effects of changing tuning parameters on ramp behavior

New Features in Aspen APC Suite
  • Review the new features available with Aspen DMC3 controllers

Appendix: Controller Variable Validation
  • Learn how to deal with the Controller's variable validation process:
  • General Variables
  • Manipulated and Feedforward Variables
  • Subcontrollers and Composite
  • External Targets

Aspen Technology, Inc. awards Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for training classes conducted by our organization. One CEU is granted for every 10 hours of class participation.