Your Plant Is Talking to You—Are You Listening?

April 3, 2017
As you set out to improve processes in your operations, your plant might have already gathered all the valuable information you need. Take these steps to get the answers you need.

How do you find the information you need to improve a process in your facility? You could talk to the operators, supervisors, or process engineers. But have you thought about asking your plant? It might have already gathered the information you need.

Most plants have instrumentation to monitor critical processes. New drives provide detailed information about their performance. Collecting and analyzing plant data could be easier than you think.

Start collecting your data

Data collection is the first step in the process. There are many packaged industrial historian products available to collect data. Next, determine the equipment that needs to be collected to analyze the process and configure the new data points in the historian system. Validate the data from each tag being collected using a trending tool packaged with the historian.

Provide context to the data

Data stored in a historian is typically stored with its equipment numbering per its corresponding piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID). This is helpful for engineering, but it doesn’t provide contextual information about the equipment.

Contextual information can be created by using the S95 model and creating attributes about the equipment. This information will allow you to group similar items together for analysis. Attributes can be vendor, model, process area, temperature, current or last service date, just to list a few examples. Tools like OSIsoft’s Asset Framework can be used to create the information and tie it to the corresponding process data from the historian.

Visualize your data

Traditionally, historical process data was visualized using a simple trending tool. Today, most historian products provide an open interface for advanced data visualization tools—such as Tibco’s Spotfire and Microsoft’s Power BI. These tools provide advanced visualization components along with a good library of statistical functions. Using the contextual information will allow you to filter on attributes like vendor, model, process area or batch number. Ultimately, this will help you filter information and gain insights at a much faster rate.

Each of these steps will help you visualize data. Although these steps might take some time, the investment will be worth it in the end. Contact your integrator to begin this process of collecting, providing context and visualizing your data.

Get more information from Interstates about data visualization here.

Dale Brovold is business analyst at Interstates Control Systems Inc., a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Interstates Control Systems, visit its profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange.

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