Controller Tuning

This comprehensive INVOLVE® interactive multimedia training program was produced in association with the Instrument Society of America (ISA). This one lesson program trains participants in three methods of controller tuning and Me various steps needed to be taken in each method.

Audience: This program is excellent for training technicians, operators, control practitioners and engineers as well as for the multi‑craft training needs of process and manufacturing facilities.

Controller Tuning

Prerequisites: This lesson is designed for participants familiar with the basics of instrument control including the proportional, integral, and derivative control modes.

Description: This lesson explains tuning methods and principles behind the three methods of tuning a controller: ultimate, reaction curve, and trial and error. The lesson presents the characteristics of a properly timed process response and relates these to proportional, integral, and derivative control actions. In addition, step-by-step procedures for tuning controllers using each method are demonstrated.


  • Define controller tuning and its purpose as used in a process control system
  • Define a process response
  • Explain the significance of a 1/4 decay reaction curve
  • Perform the preliminary steps for tuning a controller
  • Stabilize a process on manual control before using the ultimate method
  • Obtain the value of and calculate the proper setting for a proportional band or gain
  • Find the value of the ultimate period
  • Calculate the proper settings for PI, PD, and PID controllers
  • Verify adjustments
  • Obtain and interpret a process reaction curve
  • Calculate the process gain, dead time, time constant, and controller settings using the reaction curve method
  • Interpret a process response to determine the proper setting
  • Using the trial and error method, tune the proportional mode