One problem with the application of neural networks to the multivariable control of mineral and extractive processes is determining whether and how to use them. The objective of this investigation was to compare neural network control to more conventional strategies and to determine if there are any advantages in using neural network control in terms of set-point tracking, rise time, settling time, disturbance rejection and other criteria. The procedure involved developing neural network controllers using both historical plant data and simulation models. Various control patterns were tried, including both inverse and direct neural network plant models. These were compared to state space controllers that are, by nature, linear. For grinding and leaching circuits, a nonlinear neural network-based model predictive control strategy was superior to a state space-based linear quadratic gaussian controller. The investigation pointed out the importance of incorporating state space into neural networks by making them recurrent, i.e., feeding certain output state variables into input nodes in the neural network. It was concluded that neural network controllers can have better disturbance rejection, set-point tracking, rise time, settling time and lower set-point overshoot, and it was also concluded that neural network controllers can be more reliable and easy to implement in complex, multivariable plants.
Additional publication details
Neural network-based nonlinear model predictive control vs. linear quadratic gaussian control