Tips on How to Use Historical Data

Aug. 15, 2012
Struggling to fully use historian data? Take advice from these professionals.

Stop what you are doing. Back up and revisit the objectives you had when purchasing/implementing the historian. Then take one problem and figure out how you are going to address it. When you have one success, the rest becomes much easier. We often see customers who are trying to understand what the problem is by using the tool, rather than starting with the problem and using the tool to solve it.—Marc Leroux, ABB

The one obstacle we sometimes see can be legacy systems that don’t offer a way to interface with the new historian. In the world we live in today, where social media, collaboration, tweeting, charts, graphs are present in our daily lives, this new social behavior is an accelerant to use historian data to analyze, understand, share, collaborate information between different areas of the company.—Dan McGuire GE Intelligent Platforms

We often find that customers believe they need to implement additional hardware (meters, etc.) to capture data, and they don’t have the funding to do this. One challenge we constantly face is to get customers to use available data to get an approximated/calculated value when instrumentation is not available. If a project has been defied with a clear return, it is generally better to implement it using calculated values rather than delay the project because the funds to add instrumentation are not available.—Jim Kline, ABB

Don’t try to save money on your project by being so conservative and not storing data you need. Create sample reports for high level users (production, quality, etc.); show users how to access the data; combine with continuous improvement/lean etc. processes. If you are not using the historian fully, ask yourself, “Am I collecting the right data?”—Dan McGuire GE Intelligent Platforms

Keep quality and confidence indicators with the data that you’re storing. If you’re taking lab samples, or mixed samples that include calculations, or if you’re expecting to use hourly averages to calculate daily averages and you’re missing some data points, there should be some way to log confidence. Without it, you either have to assume it’s good or assume it’s bad.—Mike Bowbyes, Honeywell

Set up a calculation server and give access to the information so people can make their own calculations, and the reports they use can be built directly out of that system. I encourage customers to look at toolsets that work on multiple sources, so you can pull data from multiple sources and then deliver it back.—Mike Bowbyes, Honeywell

Know how the historian fits in with the overall IT infrastructure. While IT does not often get involved with the analysis, they are often responsible for the infrastructure and the historian needs to conform to the long-term IT plan, whether it involves virtualization or cloud computing, for example.—Marc Leroux, ABB

Start by truly determining your information needs rather than merely populating your historical database with any process data you can find, which is often the way it is done. Over historizing the plant data can make accessing the relevant information more complex during operation.—Peter Martin, Invensys

>> Click here to read Automation World's complete editorial coverage: Historian Best Practices: Distilling the Truth

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