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If you're trying to troubleshoot or optimize different aspects of your manufacturing process, consider adding an historian. This software is used to store and analyze vital process and industrial data. Historians fall into their own category in the world of industrial software due to the critical role they play in the success of analysis and decision making. Unfortunately many companies have lots of data, but do not use it effectively.
Many companies are looking for ways to determine the root causes of why their plant’s performance is not at its best on a consistent basis. For example, a plant manager may know that the plant is losing money because a process is taking an extra three minutes. However, determining why this process is taking those three extra minutes can prove to be challenging. Using historian software may provide the needed insight into this issue.
Historians are designed to capture and store a large amount of data from many different sources using disk space efficiently so that years of data can be quickly retrieved. For instance, OSI’s PI Historian can handle millions of points, archive thousands of events per second and quickly retrieve data from a million gigabytes of data (many years of data for most users!).
In a process control system, very common items that are historized include temperature, flow rate, pressure, level and other types of analog data. Also common is the historization of digital data, such as the output or feedback states associated with valves, pumps and other discrete control devices. Integration with other software systems, such as Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS), allows the comparison of process data with lab results.
There are many advantages to adding historian software to your manufacturing process. They include:
Visibility Across Different Systems/Vendors
If a site has multiple, separate systems, historian software can bring all those disparate systems into one view.
The historian can be used to analyze data for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and batch cycle improvements.
Increased Availability of Data
Efficient Storage of Data and Quick Retrieval when Needed
A historian can store many years of data and make it available for immediate retrieval. Some of our customers have systems that were installed more than 15 years ago and all of the data since the initial installation can be easily retrieved for analysis and viewing. There are some installations where the historian can display historical data better than the control system. In one instance, operators actually preferred pulling up trends in PI Processbook because of the faster performance and the more convenient user interface.
Connectivity with Other Business Systems
By connecting the historian to business systems, it is possible to reduce downtime and more accurately report material consumption.
If you are interested in adding historian software to your manufacturing process or using the data you have more effectively, consider us. We have installed many historian systems including those from OSI, Rockwell, Honeywell, Wonderware and GE in a variety of industries, and our teams have interfaced with PLC and DCS control systems as well as a myriad of business systems. We work with a wide variety of industries including life sciences, chemical, food/beverage and consumer packaging, power, and pulp & paper. We understand the type of information your engineering, operations, technical services, maintenance, and business groups need. Big data is the wave of the future, don’t be intimidated, it is possible to use large volumes of data to improve your processes.
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Abraham Lincoln once said, "History is not history unless it is the truth." How is your history - truthful or skewed? We're not talking about your family history, your country's history, or world history, but rather your process history! Is your historian telling you the truth? Would you know if it wasn't? There are several pitfalls that can plague a data historian - pitfalls that typically come to light only after an event occurrence in which we are left scratching our heads and asking, "what in the world happened to our process?"
Data historians are powerful tools that serve us in multiple ways. They record how our plants and processes run for the purpose of process analysis, process improvement, historical record keeping, regulatory compliance, and event reconstruction. But our analysis and records are no better than the quality of our data. Understanding where our historians can let us down is the first step in proactively addressing these potential pitfalls.
The first area to examine is simple analog trending. There is nothing more frustrating for the process engineer than going back in time to look at a process variable and finding a flat line trend - flat lined because the deadband or deviation exception settings were too large or because the analog input filtering was too excessive. Proper tuning of historical data collection involves balancing the needed resolution of the data with the available data collection bandwidth, online storage requirements, and available disk space. These criteria can be satisfied simultaneously, but it takes some upfront analysis and engineering to set the historical data collection parameters correctly - and we want them set correctly the first time - before the data is needed.
A second and more challenging area is a Sequence of Events (SOE) analysis. What was the triggering event for a plant evolution? What happened in what order? More than one process engineer has been confounded by their historical data until they realized their alarms were time-stamped in the process controller, but their analog and discrete data were time-stamped in the historian - making an exact correlation between the two impossible. For critical process evolutions that may require SOE analysis, different coding techniques need to be employed within the control configuration itself in order to accurately reconstruct a sequence of events.
Your historian is your tool for knowing your process history, but it must be configured properly in order to tell you "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." If you need help analyzing your historian to ensure accuracy and functionality, we're happy to provide you with support in this area. We'll make sure you not only know your history, but you can be confident it's historically accurate as well.