Personnel > Research Staff > Rob Willis
Contact Details
Rob Willis
MS Student
My status
Ph: +61-2-9351 4337
Fax: +61-2-9351 2854
Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW, 2006
Throughout the human world, oceans, mountains, and languages form barriers restricting human interaction and the sharing of knowledge, which in turn limits growth and development. Within the control, modelling and simulation world, the development of proprietary software and control platforms has led to similar barriers of its own. In an ever increasing number of environments, proprietary software and control platforms are failing to provide a complete solution/package restricting application and development. Each software package and control platform will specialise and excel at a specific application, however it will fail to perform sufficiently and effectively at a different application within the same plant/process environment. In these situations, the combination of several software packages and control platforms interacting with each other would provide the ultimate solution, however due to proprietary nature of these products, linking different software and control platforms is usually quite difficult and very limited. Communication links that do come with a software package or control system are usually limited to a specific function, and are usually quite slow, using old technology, hindering to the extent where it creates an unwanted bottleneck within a system.

The aim of my project is to create an environment where all software and hardware platforms can coexist, integrating with each other. Custom code developed by a user will also be able to coexist within this environment integrating with other vendors packages. Such an environment would also be web enabled. This is, 'the ultimate control environment', where the best of all technolgies can be packaged together in a single deployable solution. One such application of such an environment would be the testing(or teaching) of the operations of a hardware control scheme on a simulated/modelled plant before it is deployed. Another application would be using the software developed by an operator or the software packaged most familar to an operator to control and monitor a real physical plant or process.

Current developments include various communications links: Honeywell Plantscape, OPC, and Modbus, with several commercial software packages as well as software developed within the group.
Other Roles within the PSE Group
Aside from the software side of control, I am also very interested in how the hardware side works, ie the pumps, control valves, rtds, thermocouples, controller i/o etc. I currently maintain both hardware and software within the Honeywell Plantscape control environment. Plantscape control two plants: the Crystallisation plant, and the Polymerisation reactor plant. I completed the final stages of the setting up the Crystallisation plant. In respect to the Polymerisation reactor plant. I am responsible for the control hardware setup, wiring and installation. I also help with the Webplant. This plant is controlled by a Schneider control system which uses the Modbus protocol. I was involved in the control hardware installation and wiring of the plant, and continue to diagnose and solve problems(eg current-loop problems).

Parallel to the work done by Javier Orellana in developing online control for the Webplant using Schneider FactoryCast, I am currently deploying a product called ProcessNet by Matrikon, for web-based monitoring. The Webplant will also feature within my project, as the environment I create will have web-based control and monitoring cabilities.

I currently maintain the PSE website. This includes any updates and/or alterations. The website also includes an online teaching environment, developed within Macromedia Coldfusion, for the undergraduate students.
After 2 years of providing computer and network support/maintenace for the Chemical Engineering Department, I now provide support/maintence solely for the PSE group.
Other Interests
I currently own and operate a small business. The business name is Process Systems Integrated Technology, ABN 34714521633. The business specialises in customised computer systems to suit the computational power needs of specialist applications and environments, such as CFD, databases, control systems, simulation/modelling, server software, and music production studios. The business also specialises in hard to find accessories, as well as network installation, computer repair, and data recovery.

In my spare time I enjoy composing and producing music. I am currently setting up a professional 32-track production studio, to record and produce my own music, as well as the music of others. My studio showcases hard to find vintage analogue synthesisers and drum machines, most of which have been rescued, repaired and restored by myself.
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