This study investigates the design and real-time application of fractional order sliding mode control (FOSMC) for an industrial air heating process. The closed-loop stability of the system is analysed with Lyapunov theorem. The compensation results of the modelled system are investigated under a sinusoidal tracking reference temperature profile. The physical limitations of the real system are taken into account through experimental applications. Further, the performance evaluation is tabulated with a number of quantitative measures.