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Plant Video: Opening Secret Corners of the Plant

Thousands of hours of video get uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Aw 1391 1006 Visual Side
Cameras have become an inexpensive way to view the world, and now they’re being introduced into human-machine interface/supervisory control and data acquisition (HMI/SCADA). “Most HMI solutions only provide a partial view of what’s happening across the entire process,” says Craig Resnick, research director of ARC Advisory Group Inc., in Dedham, Mass. “Manufacturers have always needed a powerful, synchronized visual overview of their process.” Resnick points to Longwatch Inc., of Norwood, Mass., as a company that has been able to transmit video over existing HMI/SCADA networks.

Resnick notes that Longwatch combines distributed system architecture with video camera and data management for quality monitoring and process verification as well as troubleshooting and surveillance. “They’ve created what, in essence, is a video MES (manufacturing execution system) platform.”

Longwatch was launched in 2004 by a team of engineers with years of HMI background. “I grew up in the HMI marketplace,” says Steve Rubin, president and chief executive officer of Longwatch. “A lot of us were involved in HMI and distributed systems. This video is the next generation of HMI in factory automation.”

The technology provides three primary functions. The operator’s console recorder provides automated recording of HMI/SCADA displays. Another tool integrates video for compliance and safety needs. And a video historian links video with a variety of factory automation data.

The video systems are currently deployed in a variety of settings, from metals manufacturing to energy and utilities and building-products manufacturing. At a metals processing company that produces exotic metals for an aerospace supplier, a video system is used to monitor a specialized forge press that shapes metal crystals prior to machining. The process takes a week. If the operator doesn’t mount the mold correctly, the forge will be damaged, resulting in costly downtime.

The video is used to review the mounting process so the operator can associate the ingot mold identification with particular cameras and points in time by clicking the SQL database messages in the video historian’s process tab, which provides immediate access to the right video for review and analysis.

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