Troubleshooting Distributed Control Systems (ATS03)

This comprehensive INVOLVEĀ® interactive multimedia training program was produced in association with the Instrument Society of America (ISA).

This three lesson program trains participants in efficient methods for finding the cause of a problem in a system and correcting it.


This lesson is designed for participants familiar with instruments and their functions within a control loop. An understanding of the steps involved in a systematic approach to troubleshooting single loop control systems is required.


This lesson applies a systematic process for identifying, isolating, and correcting process system problems to distributed control systems (DCS). Emphasis is placed on the use of DCS displays as a troubleshooting tool. System graphics such as set point displays, alarm summaries, and trend graphics are included.


List the five steps in a systematic approach to troubleshooting. Identify the set points and process variables of the components, valve positions, and alarms represented in a graphic display. Analyze the trend of a process variable over time in a trend graph. Identify the time, tag name, type of an alarm, and current value or status of the process variable in an alarm summary- evaluate information supplied by the system operator to determine the current condition of the system. Apply information gathered from displays and from the operator to verify that a problem exists. Locate and identify the cause of a performance problem in the most efficient way possible. Take or recommend appropriate corrective action. Verify that the problem has been corrected. Recommend follow-up procedures to minimize the potential for recurrence. Apply the systematic troubleshooting approach to its proper conclusion in a distillation system, batch process, cascade control system, as well as separating feed stock, and batch blending processes.