During a recent project for a nuclear power plant, our consultants were tasked with converting more than a hundred HMI screens to Honeywell. These screens had varying degrees of complexity, from simple status screens to crowded, dynamic process graphics. The fact that this changeover took place as part of a nuclear project also required strict documentation, validation, and testing for all process shapes, graphics, and objects.
Honeywell’s basic functionality can easily handle most of the normal HMI screens that are developed, and that was the case with this project as well. However, there were a few screens which contained some custom functionality that basic Honeywell functionality could not match. In this project, certain screens contained plotting graphs: X-Y plots where both the X-value and the Y-value were dynamically linked to different real variables. The values of these tags changed independently and constantly, requiring fast updating and 30 minutes of history to be saved. The source of the links could also be changed with a simple click of a button to the side, completely changing the plot. The result looked like a game of ‘Snake’, with an ever-updating line weaving its way around the plot, changing colors and triggering alarms or warnings as it moved in and out of different regions within the plot. Those areas could also be defined by the user. To convert those plots, basic Honeywell simply did not have the tools to produce this same functionality. The necessity of accomplishing this conversion led us to discover the ActiveX plugin software - Gigasoft plots. Using this already built-in tool, it became possible to accomplish any complex plotting graphics that were needed with some simple scripting.
For starters, the Gigasoft plot plug-in is already configured to work seamlessly with Honeywell HMI. With the right licensing, it may already come included with some software packages. Once installed, the user only needs to click and drag a placeholder object into the Honeywell DisplayBuilder window. This object will then contain all the scripting needed to create the plot in runtime.
The scripting itself is no different than the usual VisualBasic Scripting found in Honeywell DisplayBuilder, so no new programming language or syntax needs to be learned before starting. From this script, the customization options are almost limitless. Plotting can be done through arrays. So, it is important to specify the length of your arrays and the update time. It is also possible to change the amount of data that is kept for a specific length of time. Adding text and different colored regions that are specifically bounded by different functions is also an exciting part of this software. The most recent (leading) data point can be customized separately from the rest of the data being graphed, so that the present value is more evident. Obviously, titles, labels, and axis configuration can also be customized. The figures below show the result of some of this customization. The first figure demonstrates visually what the data could look like as it moves across the plot. Again, the plotting style is completely configurable and customizable.
The second figure shows the added text and arrows, the changing of the color of the current data point (the blue dot), and it offers a visual of what a more complete plot could look like using this tool.
All this customization is done within the HMI object itself, or in the case of some global functions, within the actual general graphic scripting. This means that there is no limitation to producing only one of these plots per graph. Since this script lives in the object, once one plot has been scripted, then that object can be copied and pasted wherever you like and it will have the same configuration as the original. From there, it is possible to change links and titles and have new plots within mere seconds. The figure below demonstrates this functionality. All the plots are shown on one graphic that is constantly updating and acting independently. Depending on how the script is created, there will also be no lag or memory issues.
As you can see, this Gigasoft plug-in was extraordinarily useful for producing the nuclear graphic plots we were tasked to create. But the application of this software is certainly not limited to simple 2D plots. Gigasoft boasts the ability to create 3D plots, scientific plots, bar graphs, and pie charts with all the same customizability that has been shown above and more. This software can be used in any type of industry for any type of plotting that is needed.
Whenever this functionality is needed in the future, we now have the ability and the tools to accomplish whatever the customer would like to see created. Often, the most difficult part of implementing new software is the testing and validation of the software. However, since Avid has extensive experience with the documentation and testing required in the nuclear and life sciences industries, we can satisfactorily meet any regulations and requirements for any related industry. Our knowledge and utilization of the plotting software of Gigasoft now offers us the ability to satisfy user HMI demands to create unique and special displays that meet and oftentimes exceed customer expectations.