Welcome to 5.5

5-5Coming off nearly another year of sleep deprivation our developers are pleased to announce the completion of PARCview’s next major version, 5.5!

Similar to the WPF expansion in our last major release, 5.5 is packed with new tools and treats that have our engineers salivating! From graphic logic controls to the new PARCview Configuration Manager we will take a closer look at some of the great new features in this release.

(more…)

Read More

Why We’re Implementing the OPC UA Spec. (and how it will benefit our customers)

why-we-are-implementing-OPC-UAGoing back 15 years now, dataPARC had the notion of a “Process Area” that allowed tags from multiple systems to be organized by Asset, providing filters (like Grade or Product) for all tags assigned to an Asset and for other useful associations to be applied globally. Building on this experience, the next major version of PARCview takes the next step in Asset Management and includes an adoption of the ISA 95 companion specification to OPC UA. The implementation will allow end-users a familiar, standards-based architecture for organizing their plant data.
(more…)

Read More

What is an Energy Management System?

what-is-energy-mgmtAll forms of commerce require energy. Industrial processing and manufacturing facilities tend to be the largest consumers, but even service industries such as insurance and banking require large buildings which must be heated, cooled and lit. The newest large energy consuming enterprises are data centers, which are large clusters of computers which store and serve up the data which flows through the internet. Regardless of the end use or the industry, companies strive to minimize production costs by minimizing energy consumption.

In addition to economic incentives, it is increasingly accepted that every BTU that is generated by burning fossil fuels (the source of the majority of our energy) leads to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This, in turn, appears to be causing some undesirable changes in the global climate. There are now more reasons than ever for companies to seriously strive to reduce energy consumption.

(more…)

Read More

OPC UA: A Framework for the Industrial Internet of Things

opcThe ISA 95 spec and OPC UA companion standard provide a model that allows software programs to exchange all the relevant information throughout a manufacturing organization. This provides the groundwork for an industrial internet of things by breaking down the communication barriers between objects.

The Internet of Things

The concept of an “Internet of Things” (IoT) has been around since about 2005 and has really begun to catch on in recent years. Basically, IoT is connecting multiple “things” with sensors to data processing programs capable of sending data to and receiving data from those things. The things can be anything from household appliances to industrial machines. In factories this concept is called the Industrial Internet of Things or Industrie 4.0. Industrie 4.0 is the term coined in Germany for the IoT because it is being considered the 4th Industrial Revolution. No matter what it’s called, the goal is to create a network world with intelligent objects that can communicate and interact with each other.
(more…)

Read More

Using Process Displays for Troubleshooting

using-process-displays-for-troubleshootingA lot of time and effort goes into the construction of the HMI screens and other display screens that are used to monitor and control production processes, so it is worth giving some time and thought to their layout and design. The most important consideration is how they can convey the most useful information in a timely manner to their intended audience.

This blog post deals designing process monitoring screens to better assist with troubleshooting efforts. It contains tips and guidelines on how to use PARCview’s graphics design tool, PARCgraphics, to address this goal.

(more…)

Read More

Convince Your Boss to Send You to PARCtraining: 4 Strategies That Will Work

how-to-get-your-boss-to-let-you-go-to-trainingThe New Year is starting and now is the time to book your PARCview training session. With the new training calendar rolling out this is the perfect time to plan your get-a-way to the Northwest. Whether you need to escape the heat of summer, the cold of winter, or just need to get away from the plant, PARCtraining is your ticket to a welcome escape. Oh, did we mention the training?
(more…)

Read More

Process Data Compression: Why it’s a BAD Idea

data-compressionMost people are familiar with compressing data files so that they require less memory and they are easier to send electronically. Similar concepts are popular with process data historians. With process data, compression means reducing the number of data points that are stored, while trying to not affect the quality of the data. Compression can be accomplished using one of several algorithms (swinging door, Box Car Back Slope). Each algorithm uses some criteria to eliminate data between points where there is constant change (slope), within some tolerance.

The main drivers for compression are disk space, and network traffic or data retrieval speed. The goal of compression is to remove data that is “unimportant”. The proponents of compression make convincing arguments, like the shape of the graph is still the same. However, there are several drawbacks to compression.
(more…)

Read More

Process Alarm Management Best Practices

process-alarm-mgmt-best-practicesThe purpose of process control alarms is to use automation to assist human operators as they monitor and control processes, and alert them to abnormal situations. Incoming process signals are continuously monitored, and if the value of a given signal moves into an abnormal range, a visual and/or audio alarm notifies the operator of that condition.

This seems like a simple concept, almost not worthy of a second thought, and unfortunately, sometimes the configuration of alarms in a control system doesn’t receive the second thought it deserves. Configuring and maintaining alarms properly requires careful planning and has a significant impact on the overall effectiveness of a control system.

(more…)

Read More

Data Historian Reporting Best Practices

data-historian-reporting-best-practicesHistorian packages were originally intended to help operators and engineers understand and operate manufacturing processes. Current and historical data was constantly displayed on a dedicated screen next to the primary control screens, and users were intended to interact with it at that location more or less continuously. As the historian became a one-stop source for all types of data throughout a facility, it became a tool that could benefit supervisory and management personnel as well. This led to the development of a variety of remote notification and reporting tools to meet the somewhat different needs of these individuals.
(more…)

Read More