Process automation challenge

Challenge title
Process automation challenge

Industrial partner

This challenge is organized by the 3Smart project and supported by Siemens and MathWorks.


Cooling of a three-room building

mathworks logo


Overall competition winners

MED 2018 Process automation challenge finals was held on 19 June 2018, the first day of the MED2018 conference in Zadar. Teams FTSEI from University of Belgrade and University of Novi Sad (Serbia), and SapiEngineering from Hungarian University of Transilvania (Romania) were the finalists. The scoring in the finals was calculated as arithmetical mean of the scores achieved in the second round of the challenge (FTSEI: 1,78 EUR, SapiEngineering: 4,37 EUR, as reported before) and of the scores achieved on the slightly modified assignment for the finals. The scores achieved on the assignment for the finals are 27,90 EUR for the FTSEI team and 13,53 EUR for SapiEngineering.

Thus, the overall scores of the teams are:

FTSEI: 14,84 EUR

SapiEngineering: 8,95 EUR

and the winner team of the MED 2018 Process automation challenge is SapiEngineering.

The winners will be promoted at the conference gala dinner on Thursday 21 June 2018, where the representatives of Siemens as the sponsor of the competition will give out the rewards.

We congratulate the winners and to both teams in the finals for the results achieved and skills presented. We thank to all teams who participated in the challenge!

Rules of competition

Please read the general rules first, and do not forget to register by March 7 (extended deadline) [closed] to participate.

The remainder of this page describes the specific rules of the Process automation challenge.

The top 30 student teams after the first round of qualifications will advance to the second qualification round and will be given the necessary licensed tools from MathWorks and Siemens for controller design and testing for a target PLC.

The top three (3) students teams passing the second qualification round will become finalists, and will get the chance to compete at the conference for the challenge winner title. The winning team will be rewarded with industrial IoT devices.


Full technical description

Here you can download the detailed technical description: MED2018_Process_automation_challenge_task_details. (Below is a brief summary.)



The process automation challenge is organized in three stages.Deadlines for the Process automation challenge stages are as follows:

1.    First qualification round deadline: 19 March 15:00 CEST (final extension) 27 March 2018 23:59 CEST [closed], publication of results in one week time.

Here are the results and team ranking for the first qualification round:

No. Team name J [€]*
1.  FTSEI team  3.294
2.  SapiEngineering  5.671
3.  Borgovci  9.365
4.  Control & Co.  229.996

The contestants have been notified about the outcome by e-mail on April 5.
According to the rules of the Challenge, the teams listed above will proceed to the second stage once the student status of all team members is officially confirmed.

2.    Second qualification round deadline: 30 April 2018 15:00 CEST, (final extension – HARD DEADLINE) 3 May 2018 23:59 CEST, publication of results in two weeks time.

The results of the second qualification round are:

No. Team name J [€]*
1.  FTSEI team  1.78
2.  SapiEngineering  4.37

The contestants were informed about the results by e-mail on May 10. Congratulations!

3.    Finals will take place on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.


Technical description summary

The challenge focuses on the process of cooling a building that consists of three rooms with fan coils units (see figure, below). The building is connected to a smart electricity grid.

The goal is to design a controller for fan coils fans on-off state and the chiller setpoint temperature which will make the building smart, and to make it work on a programmable logic controller (PLC).

Tools used for controller design and simulation are Matlab/Simulink from MathWorks and TIA portal from Siemens.

process automation challenge illustrationFan coils are supplied with a cooling medium produced in the building’s chiller. Besides the cooling energy from fan coils, the room temperature is dynamically influenced by solar irradiance, outdoor air temperature and heat disturbances like the presence of people or operation of equipment. For all of them there exists a prediction which is uncertain.

Fan coils’ fans can be turned on or off and their on-off signals are the process control variables. The chiller provides the cooling medium with a constant flow which is always distributed in the same way between the fan coils of the rooms, so the hydraulic situation is static and known. The starting temperature of the medium from the chiller towards the building is also a control variable of the process. There are heat losses along the distribution pipeline from the chiller to fan coils and from the fan coils output back to the chiller. The fan coils are described with the models of cooling power they provide to the rooms, which is for both its on and off fan state a function of the cooling medium temperature at the fan coil entrance, the known cooling medium constant flow and the room temperature. Besides the cooling power, the electrical power for fan operation is also known.

The chiller is supplied with electricity and its efficiency map (ratio between the produced cooling power and the needed electrical power for that) with respect to the required cooling power and the outside air temperature is known. Upon the setpoint temperature command change, the chiller’s reaction is considered to be instantaneous so that the actual temperature of the medium at the chiller’s output towards the building is the same as the setpoint temperature. The chiller’s output temperature is constrained in such a way that is cannot be lower than the certain temperature threshold.

The price of electricity changes with 15 minutes time resolution, and is known one day in advance.

Here you can download the detailed technical description: MED2018_Process_automation_challenge_task_details.



The challenge is motivated by the problems of integrated energy management of buildings and distribution grids connected with them, tackled within the project Smart Building – Smart Grid – Smart City (3Smart) funded through the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme. More info can be found here: