Software as a service is taking off for all manner of industrial capabilities as manufacturers realize the flexibility that can be gained from some functions residing in the cloud. The same is true for historians; there are several ways historians can be deployed throughout an enterprise to capture and collect high-fidelity operation data, and for some, putting it in the cloud could make sense.
At the Wonderware 2015 Conference this week in Dallas, Schneider Electric is describing the benefits of Wonderware Online, which can securely collect and store industrial data, whether from single or multiple locations, or from multiple sources. Then that data can easily be delivered to operators, customers, service teams or other authorized personnel through any computer or mobile device.
Leaving the IT burden of managing the historian to Wonderware can save manufacturers time, money and manpower. A key goal for Wonderware Online is to remove some of the typical obstacles for users, noted Elliott Middleton, product manager for Wonderware at Schneider Electric. Without the online capability, information could be isolated on the control network, for example, or obscured in tools that are more suited to experts.
The user profile for Wonderware Online is a bit different than what’s typical for Wonderware’s traditional Historian Client Trend, Middleton said. A more casual user or supervisor, he explained, might be less familiar with tag names, and also likely more interested in a summary view of information. The summary views available with Wonderware Online harness the power of retrieval modes, but without requiring a training course, he added.
Built on Microsoft Azure, Wonderware Online is also an easy way to make information secure, and makes it easy to scale for very small or very large applications. As one example, Middleton pointed to an agricultural chemical customer that has small farms for testing purposes. “They could have four tags on a farm, and a historian might not be worth it,” he said. “But what if you could do it really simply? Those kinds of applications are a perfect fit for what we’re doing with Wonderware Online.”
At this point, Schneider Electric is targeting InTouch and other HMIs with Wonderware Online. Historian Publisher offers secure, robust communications; automatic store forward; simple wizard setup; nothing to maintain; and no elevated rights. From the client side, information can be accessed through a web browser, Historian Client or SmartGlance, a mobile reporting app that’s included with Wonderware Online.
Schneider Electric has continued to improve on Wonderware Online’s capabilities, including the ability to replicate historians from on-premise.
Extended properties are in the works, including some tied to social media-type capabilities. “One of the things we want to do with Wonderware Online is Facebook for Operations,” Middleton said, likening updates to a typical Facebook newsfeed, but related to plant operations.
Although customers can already use SmartGlance Alerts, the new capability would differ in that it doesn’t have to be defined by the user. It would use unsupervised machine learning; although the results might not be as high value, they also would require no configuration, Middleton explained.