The way forward for turbomachinery control

The original Digital Control System (DCS), Honeywell’s TDC 2000, began a revolution in industrial process control. What had previously been the realm of operators and pneumatic control systems slowly began to migrate into a microprocessor-based control chassis.

The history and evolution of turbomachinery control was linked to this progression, but it also took its own course, with specialists emerging, who focused solely on control, regulation and protection of the turbomachinery.

With the rapid advancement of microprocessor technology, we are seeing a shift in
process control and turbomachinery control toward software-based solutions. And the emergence of fast and flexible Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) means that firms specializing in turbomachinery control will gradually move away from proprietary hardware and instead focus on software and know-how.

Historic perspective

This history of turbomachinery control can be traced back to the initial development of steam engines, which required effective speed control. Watt’s governor (also known as the flyball governor) of 1788 was the first centrifugal and fully automatic speed control which utilized a system of levers and gravity to control the opening of the aperture on throttle valves in steam engines.

Read more in the Aug./Sept. 2012 issue of Turbomachinery International.