Troubleshooting Distillation Controls

Location Online, 08:00–12:30 AWST/MYT

Date 6th August 2024

Duration 3 days

Topic Process Operations

CPD Hours 12

Price IChemE member AU$2,875 + GST / Non-member AU$3,450 + GST

Online | In-company


Join recognised expert Henry Kister online to learn how to get the best performance from a distillation column control system. 

Through Henry's extensive experience, you will learn how to troubleshoot a distillation control system and identify causes of poor performance, evaluate existing column control performance, avoid common causes of instability, and develop improvements to your column control system. Henry will use case studies throughout to illustrate the principles and highlight control systems that did not work. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will understand how to:

  • troubleshoot a distillation control system and identify causes of poor performance
  • evaluate existing column control performance and develop new designs
  • avoid common causes of instability, off-spec products, excessive energy consumption, hammering, fouling, and other operating issues resulting from deficiencies in the control system
  • incorporate lessons from past experience for developing or improving a column control system.

Who will benefit

  • Engineers and operation personnel responsible for operating, troubleshooting, designing and revamping distillation columns in the chemical, petrochemical and oil refining industries
  • Process control engineers engaged in control system optimisation and improvements
  • Managers and supervisors endeavouring to get the best performance from an existing or new distillation unit 

What delegates say

"It is easy to see why Henry is the industry expert. Super enthusiastic and kept me engaged throughout the course...I learnt so much in such a short space of time. Not a minute was wasted."
B Robinson, Syngenta, UK

"The best thing about the course was the breadth and depth of knowledge of the presenter and the fact it had multi-industry based examples...Henry Kister is an inspiring and engaging presenter."
G Taylor, Chivas Brothers, UK

"Henry is exceedingly knowledgeable with a huge amount of experience which he uses throughout the training to aid understanding of the material. He also welcomes real-world examples from the attendees and puts time aside for this. Using examples from the attendees really improves the interaction."
J Chapman, Novartis, UK

"The training was to a high standard, given by a true legend in distillation. The training on pressure controls was first rate and highly relevant to our site operations. I really appreciated the time spent looking at our issues during the third day. Overall, this is one of the best and most relevant training courses I have attended."
I Roberts, Huntsman, UK

"The best thing about the course were the challenges in the chat and how good Henry Kister is at keeping the interest high for the attendees."
E Nordström, Preem, Sweden

"I enjoyed reviewing theory now that I have some practical experience. It's presented well and I would recommend it to other engineers, not just process engineers."
C du Plooy, Logichem Process Trust, South Africa

"Henry Kister was not only a knowledgeable and engaged professor, but he was able to incorporate so much valuable information into such a short amount of time while keeping the course understandable."
B Kemper, ADM, USA

Course outline

  • Distillation control overall schemes troubleshooting
  • Troublesome temperature controls and sidedraw controls
  • Pressure and condenser process controls troubleshooting
  • Reboiler process controls troubleshooting
  • Discussion time 

View a detailed course outline

Discussion session

This session provides an opportunity to briefly discuss plant issues with Henry and the other participants. Anyone wishing to take this opportunity should inform IChemE ahead of the course so they can be allocated discussion time in this session. Please include a problem statement and sketch which will be forwarded to Henry to review ahead of the session.

You are encouraged to prepare presentation materials in a simplified form that everyone in the audience can easily follow. We suggest you avoid elaborate P&I’s and detailed drawings, but have detailed information available of the configuration of lines connecting to drums and seal pots (enter from the top or bottom, via slotted pipes or bare nozzles, into the vapor or liquid space, etc).

Please note

The following topics are outside the scope of this course and will not be covered:

  • advanced controls of distillation columns
  • constraints controls
  • batch distillation controls
  • reactive distillation controls
  • controls of dividing wall columns
  • setting tuning constants
  • control valve selection
  • actuators
  • control hardware. 

Upcoming courses


Online courses consist of three live and interactive modules with the trainer.

From 6 August 2024

  • Module 1 – 6 August 2024, 08:00–12:30 AWST/MYT / 11:00–15:30 AEDT / 13:00–17:30 NZDT
  • Module 2 – 7 August 2024, 08:00–12:30 AWST/MYT / 11:00–15:30 AEDT / 13:00–17:30 NZDT
  • Module 3 – 8 August 2024, 08:00–12:30 AWST/MYT / 11:00–15:30 AEDT / 13:00–17:30 NZDT

From 18 November 2024 

  • Module 1 – 18 November 2024, 13:00–17:00 GMT
  • Module 2 – 19 November 2024, 13:00–17:00 GMT
  • Module 3 – 20 November 2024, 13:00–17:00 GMT

Live sessions are delivered via Microsoft Teams. If you don't already have this installed, you can join as a guest in order to access the training.


No scheduled dates.

Not available then?

Register your interest in alternative dates.


  • IChemE member – £1,500 + VAT / AU$2,875 + GST
  • Non-member – £1,800 + VAT / AU$3,450 + GST

How to register

Select your preferred course from the list of upcoming start dates and go to the 'Book course' button at the bottom of the page.

More than one person to train?

Multi-place discounts

Discounts are available to companies booking more than one place. Bookings must be made at the same time to receive the discount.

  • 2 places – 10% discount
  • 3 places –15% discount
  • 4 or more places – 20% discount

In-company training

This course can be delivered to corporate teams, either on-site or online. This could be a cost-effective option if you have several people requiring the training. Content can be tailored to your specific requirements. Request a quotation.

Attendance certificate & CPD hours

An e-certificate will be issued at the end of the course to confirm attendance and CPD hours logged. Please note that you must attend all modules to receive the certificate. 

CPD hours should be used as an approximate guide and will vary depending on the preferred approach of the delegate and to what extent additional learning is completed.

Contact Phone +44 (0)1788 534496

Contact Email

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Associated course

Practical Distillation Technology

Learn about distillation technology with world-renowned expert, Henry Kister.

Henry Kister, FIChemE


Henry Kister, FIChemE


Henry, 'the tower doctor', is a recognised specialist with a vast background in all phases of distillation, including operation, troubleshooting, controls, design, start-up, and research.

At Fluor he designs, revamps and advises on distillation processes, equipment and controls for the chemical, petrochemical and oil industries. He is also extensively involved in field consulting, start-up and troubleshooting assignments and in developing Fluor’s in-house distillation technology.

He is the author of three textbooks - Distillation Operation and Distillation Design (McGraw-Hill Inc., 1990 and 1992) and Distillation Troubleshooting (Wiley Interscience 2006) - as well as the Distillation Equipment chapter in Perry's Handbook (2008, 2018), and over 120 technical articles. He has presented IChemE's Practical Distillation Technology course over 500 times.

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