A Guide To Reporting and Notifications with a Data Historian

Historian packages were originally intended to be a support tool for operating personnel. 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.

DataPARC reporting
DataPARC is one of the leading historian and data analysis software packages available to process industries. DataPARC has a variety of mechanisms for relaying information to remote users of the system in order to keep them in contact with the process. At the most basic level, the system can be configured to email one or more people based on a single tag going beyond a set limit. A separate notification can also be sent at the time an operator enters a reason for the excursion, and also when the variable returns to a value within the limit.

At the next level of complexity, the system can populate and send an entire report, based on an event or a preset time schedule. Reports can be as simple as a snapshot showing the current values of a few KPIs, or as complex as a multipage report containing tables, process graphics, charts and trends. DataPARC has a built-in, flexible and easy to use application for developing report templates. DataPARC also offers an add-in which allows data to be shown within Excel. For people who are proficient with the tools within Excel, this is another avenue for creating reports. Reports created in Excel can be viewed natively in Excel or exported as .pdf or .html files for viewing on a wide range of platforms. Production, raw material consumption and environmental compliance can all be easily tracked by periodic reporting, and any deviations can be quickly spotted and rectified. Receiving a daily report just before a morning meeting provides a quick way to avoid unpleasant surprises at the meeting.

PARCmobile is the most flexible remote-user experience. PARCmobile  gives you continuously updated data and access to most of the features and all of the data within dataPARC, all delivered on a mobile device. Live trends and graphics make it possible to take the next step, beyond a single number or notification, and perform a wide ranging investigation of any process irregularities.

Generate the Best Reports Possible Using these Guidelines:
Different people have different methods of working. Not all reporting needs are the same. A process engineer troubleshooting a particular problem will want more granular, higher frequency reports focused on a particular area, at least for the duration of the issue, than an area manager who is monitoring multiple processes to make sure that they are generally on track. Nonetheless, here are some guidelines that will apply to most remote users most of the time:

Minimize the number of notifications that you receive, and choose them wisely. If you receive an email for every minor process excursion, their importance will diminish and you are liable to not notice or respond to an important notification. Focus on watching only crucial KPIs.

Reports should be simple. The primary purpose of mobile notification is to be alerted to new or potential problems, not to find causes or solve those problems based on the report.

Export reports in pdf format. This is a standard format which offers easy scalability and works well on virtually all software and hardware platforms.

Use the group function to notify everyone who might be affected by a process excursion. For example, if high torque in a clarifier is detected due to high solids coming in from a process sewer, all areas which are serviced by that sewer should be notified. Doing this will hopefully result in the problem being solved more quickly, as each area checks on their contribution simultaneously, rather than each area looking in sequence, only after each downstream contributor reports their results.

Incorporate dead banding and/or delay into your notifications. Again, this depends on your job role, but for most remote users of data, unless an excursion presents a safety hazard or compliance issue, you don’t need to know about it immediately. Minor excursions can resolve themselves or be handled by frontline operators. Delaying notifications helps to minimize their numbers by filtering out the minor issues from the major ones.

Whichever historian you use, using the built-in notification and reporting functions will increase its effectiveness by engaging a wider range of users. Having more eyes and brains monitoring a process will hopefully lead to problems being addressed more effectively and keep the process running more profitably.

Benefits of Calculated Variables

As an engineer in a manufacturing facility, you are excited that management has purchased and implemented a plant wide Information Management system, or PIM. This gives you the ability to collect and store process data, and to display both real time and historical process graphs which allow you and the operators to better understand the process. You can finally trend important process variables next to each other in order to visualize relationships that you suspect exist, and to use historical data for accurate diagnosis of problems, for example, was it lube oil pump failure, or loss of cooling water that led to the recent shutdown of a compressor?

Not long after you start doing your time based analysis of data, you develop the desire to trend not just raw process data, but modified versions of that data. In the simplest example of calculated data, a single trend might be modified by a constant. A chemical addition flow may be reported as gallons per minute, but you want to discuss and track that value as pounds per hour.

Another common scenario involves combining  two or  more tags. Perhaps you have an inlet and outlet pressure to a scrubber.  As the flow through the scrubber changes both values change and it would be better to monitor a single differential pressure rather than comparing two changing trends.

A second example of combining tags would be multiplying the total flow of a stream by the concentration of a component, perhaps the consistency of solids in the stream, to create a flow rate of just the solids. Even if the consistency value comes from a lab test, PARCview will pull the value in, and properly time synchronize and combine it will the flow value. The ability to observe and trend these created variables vastly increases the usefulness of the presentation system. The more you become involved with data analysis, the more you see the need to be able to manipulate the time based raw data to display the information you and others need to monitor. DataPARC has three techniques of somewhat increasing complexity which give users the ability to manipulate raw data. All involve creating a new “calculated variable tag.”

The first technique is available to all users and is very easily implemented.  Using the example of combining a total flow and a concentration to create a component flow tag, the procedure starts by dragging the total flow tag onto a trend. Simply clicking on the variable name within the header block at the top of the trend activates it for editing.  The tag can be modified by appending the text. Once that text is correctly entered, all the points for the current time span are calculated and a new calculated trend displays a total flow trend. The minimum and maximum values of the tag may need to be modified to properly display the trend. This new tag is called an “Expression” and can be dragged or copied to other trends.

The second technique for creating a calculated tag, a “simple formula”, involves a few more keystrokes but offers a number of key advantages. To create a simple formula, the Script Editor window is opened. Note that instead of an arithmetic expression the tag is followed by a name. This name is associated with programming code which is entered in a workspace on the Script Editor window. This code acts like a programming subroutine, accepting the tag name as an argument, and returning the evaluated value of the tag as an output.

The formula creation environment offers more flexibility in terms of logic than an Expression, it gives access to all the functionality of the VB.NET programming environment.  Another advantage of this approach is that formulas are saved by name and can be reused by others. A “standard “routine such as the conversion of Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit temperature can be created once, by one person, and then applied by anyone else in the future. Simply associating a different input tag with the formula name will create a new output tag. If the new tag is saved, it is placed in the master tag browser and becomes available to everyone.

The third technique for creating calculated tags is to create an “advanced formula”.  There is very little difference in the creation of a simple vs. advanced calculation tag.  The primary difference is in how the data is handled within the procedure. In the simple formula, if the timing of the data of different tags used in the calculation is not exact, the output points are automatically associated to the input times by PARCView.  In an advanced formula, the user has the opportunity/responsibility for the correct association of input and output data. For example, pulp consistency data may only be available only once an hour, because it is a lab test. If this data were being combined with a continuous total flow to find a dry fiber flow, it would be more accurate to multiply each flow value in the past hour times an average of the 1 hour old consistency and the most recent consistency, as opposed to using the one hour old consistency for the whole past hour.  This level of control is also desirable when creating some statistical functions.

In addition to providing users the capability to easily combine and customize tags,  the formula creation functionality of dataPARC  has been used  to build a number of named advanced formulas which can be or can be applied directly to tags with no programming at all. For example there are routines which allow the user to introduce a fixed time lag to a incoming signal, perhaps to simulate flow through extended pipe runs.  There are routines to totalize values over specified periods of time. A more sophisticated routine will totalize, and average, and even create a standard deviation value for an input tag, but only when a trigger tag, such as a grade or product is equal to a specified value.

Whether you used pre-built functions or program your own, the ability to easily configure calculated tags considerably expands your ability analyze process data, and to display the actual information which will help you and others operate and optimize the process.

 

The 2017 dataPARC User Conference Was a Networking and Learning Success Story

Over 121 people gathered for the 2017 dataPARC User Conference in beautiful Portland, Oregon from May 15 through the 18th.
Attendees traveled from Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, China and Lebanon to experience the presentations, networking and training. 
Keynote speaker and emcee Rennie Crabtree helped facilitate nine internal presentations and eight client presentations on software integration, functionality and features.
Also included were six round table discussions on key topics which allowed attendees to share their experiences with dataPARC with fellow users.  Assigned seating ensured a mix of industries and a chance to get to know new people.
Among the favorite sessions were the KapStone  presentation and the Capstone training session “Tips and Tricks in PARCview.
Social events included a welcome reception on the first night and a fun dinner at the nearby Punchbowl Social with great food, games, including bowling, karaoke foos ball and cornhole.
85% of people surveyed rated the conference an 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.  At the next conference attendees surveyed said they wanted more training and more hands on experiences.  Attendees also wanted to see more use cases and live examples of dataPARC in action.
 Stay tuned for the dates of our next user conference — coming fall of 2018!

Version 5.5.2.1 – Get the scoop on this minor release

5.5.2.1 Release

 

This version is a minor release improving on the features in the 5.5.2 series.

 

NEW FEATURES

Centerline

  • Added ability in Centerline Config to select a tag and then share it’s process to all tags in the Centerline.

PARCmodel

  • DMODXN/HT2N contribution tags will now be created for each of the input tags, allowing tag contributions to be viewed over time.

PARCgraphics Designer

  • Deadband support added to comparison operators < , <= , > , >= . Deadband can be set as either a constant or a percent.

PARCview Manual

  • New tutorials added to PARCview Manual.

System Configuration

  • New setting added to System Defaults (SystemConfig>System Defaults>General) allowing uncertain quality values to be treated as good quality. This flag impacts values in Trend and PARCgraphics.

IMPROVEMENTS

PARCvalue

  • PARCValue now provides a ValObj property to more easily see if the value is null,  the Value property will return a DBNull value which is more appropriate as a legacy capability.

PARCcalc Support

  • Adding an “IncludeEndBound” parameter overload to “NormalizeToStep” that allows it to include the interval that starts on the end time. When normalizing IV tags, the final interval will only be a one second interval. Previously the function was only including intervals >= start and < end. If includeEndBound is true it will include all intervals that are >= start  and <= end

PARCview Localiztion

  • Added ability to check for and load current culture
  • Updated Chinese Localization files (Chinese language)

Centerline

  • Refined bulk process update in Centerline Config to only update tags that have an undefined process.

PARChistory

  • Improved functionality and performance when performing backfill.

PARCIO

  • Add dead time feature to OPC DA sources, to allow avoiding artificial zero values put out when OPC DA server first connects.
  • Add options to wait between HDA tag registrations and sync reads.
  • Add flat file invariant culture parsing option.
  • Add option to wait between OPC DA tag and tag group registrations.
  • Add ability for OPC HDA sources to periodically check for new tags
  • Update PARCIO logging to include informational type messages in the log files.
  • Update max bad tag exceeded logic to only re-establish the connection up to the maximum retry amount.
  • Add ability to periodically check for changed or deactivated OPC DA tags
  • Add browsing for OPC DA servers from OPC DA source configuration window.

PARCtagSync

  • Add additional logging to log files.

Excel Add-In

  • Enable PARCxla SQL Calc sources work with Unicode characters in tag and source names.

PARCgraphic Designer

  • Modify “Symbol Compare Logic” to allow for more natural two-input connections and reverse inputs.

 

Static, Live or Dynamic – Which Report is Best?

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Welcome to 5.5

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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.

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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.

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OPC UA: A Framework for the Industrial Internet of Things

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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.
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Using Process Displays for Troubleshooting

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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.

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