Automatic Tuning

Researchers: Josefin BernerKristian Soltesz, Tore Hägglund, and Karl Johan Åström.


Methods for automatic tuning of PID controllers were developed in the early eighties, and implemented in industrial single-station controllers and DCS systems. A main reason was the technology shift from analog to computer-based controllers and systems at that time, which made implementation of such tuning functions possible. These methods were limited by the computer power and the knowledge about PID design that were available at that time. Since then, the computational  power and the knowledge about PID design has increased, which provides the possibility to develop new tuning functions with better performance.

Within process industry, a large number of processes can be accurately modeled using simple models, i.e. SISO FOTD or SOTD, and there are efficent tuning rules for PID controllers that are based on these model structures.

We aim at developing a methodology for automatic tuning of PID controllers, using nonlinear feedback for idenfication input generation and optimization based methods for both process parameter identification and controller synthesis.

The main components of the auto-tuning alogorithm are the following:

  1. Generate identification input with little or none a priori system information
  2. Transfer function parameter identification through optimization
  3. Model verification
  4. PID synthesis
  5. Performance evaluation

As a case study, a modified version of the method has been applied in closed-loop controlled anesthesia. The closed-loop anesthesia project is described here.

Another approach for automatic tuning is to conduct a simple experiment, using an asymmetric relay function as feedback. From the experiment the static gain and the normalized time delay of the system can be estimated, and from this a FOTD model can be achieved from analytical formulas. The experiment data can also be used to find a higher order model using numerical parameter estimation methods. From the achieved model the parameters of a PI or PID controller can be tuned either by existing tuning rules or by optimization methods.

This autotuner is still under development, but has been tried in both simulations and on an industrial air handling unit with promising results. The aim is to continue the development of the autotuner for SISO systems, as well as adapting it to handle MIMO systems.


Josefin Berner, Kristian Soltesz: "Short and Robust Experiments in Relay Autotuners". In: 22nd IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation; ETFA2017 2017.

Josefin Berner, Kristian Soltesz, Karl Johan Åström, Tore Hägglund: "Practical Evaluation of a Novel Multivariable Relay Autotuner with Short and Efficient Excitation". In: IEEE Conference on Control Technology and Applications, CCTA 2017 2017.

Josefin Berner, Kristian Soltesz, Tore Hägglund, Karl Johan Åström: "Autotuner identification of TITO systems using a single relay feedback experiment". In: 20th IFAC World Congress, 2017 2017.

Kristian Soltesz, Pedro Mercader, Alfonso Baños: "An automatic tuner with short experiment and probabilistic plant parameterization". Int. Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control, 27:11, pp. 1857–1873, 2017.

Pedro Mercader, Kristian Soltesz, Alfonso Baños: "Autotuning of an In-Line pH Control System". In: 21st IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation, ETFA 2016 2016.

Kristian Soltesz, Pedro Mercader: "Identification for Control of Biomedical Systems using a very Short Experiment". In: 2016 International Conference on Systems in Medicine and Biology 2016.

Alfred Theorin, Josefin Berner: "Implementation of an Asymmetric Relay Autotuner in a Sequential Control Language". In: IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (IEEE CASE 2015) 2015.

Josefin Berner: "Automatic Tuning of PID Controllers based on Asymmetric Relay Feedback". Licentiate Thesis Department of Automatic Control, Lund University, Sweden, June 2015.

Josefin Berner, Karl Johan Åström, Tore Hägglund: "Towards a New Generation of Relay Autotuners". In: 19th IFAC World Congress, 2014 2014.

Kristian Soltesz: "On Automation of the PID Tuning Procedure". Licentiate Thesis Department of Automatic Control, Lund University, Sweden, January 2012.

Kristian Soltesz, Tore Hägglund: "Extending the Relay Feedback Experiment". In: 18th IFAC World Congress, 2011 2011.

Kristian Soltesz, Tore Hägglund, Karl Johan Åström: "Transfer Function Parameter Identification by Modified Relay Feedback". In: American Control Conference, 2010 2010.