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.

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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?
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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.
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PARCview & Display Technology

secret-to-better-process-display-performanceMost of us take for granted the rapid advance of “technology”. Computers get smaller and faster, cell phones turn into smart phones, smart phone capabilities steadily increase, televisions become larger, and more of life’s transactions move onto the internet. Not all of the changes are appreciated by all people, but they occur regardless of who welcomes them and who does not.

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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.

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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.
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Benefits of Calculated Variables in Process Manufacturing Analysis

benefits-of-calculated-variables-in-process-manufacturing-analysisAs an engineer in a manufacturing facility, you are excited that management has purchased and implemented a Plant-wide Information Management system, or PIMS. 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?
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Improving OEE: Analyzing the Six Big Losses

improving-OEE--analyzing-the-siz-big-lossesOverall Equipment Effectiveness, or OEE, has several benefits over simple one-dimensional metrics like machine efficiency. If you are not meeting demand and have a low OEE (equipment is underperforming) then you know you have an equipment effectiveness problem. If equipment is operating at a high OEE but not meeting customer demand, you know you have a capacity problem. Also, OEE lets you understand if you have spare capacity to keep up with changes in demand.

Once you have cleared the important hurdle of configuring and collecting OEE data, what do you do with it to start improving OEE? The entire purpose of OEE is to highlight losses, so all losses must be analyzed, prioritized, and minimized. This can be a bit overwhelming at first, so where do you begin?
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Process Control Loops: Trending PV, SP, OP and Mode

control-loop12Modern manufacturing and process industries are often largely run by distributed control systems (DCSs), with minimal input from operating personnel. This has largely been made possible by the evolution of computer and controller hardware and software.

The basic building block of a process control systems is the process control loop. Process control loops utilize sensors, transmitters, calculations or algorithms, processing systems, and actuators or outputs. Their ultimate goal is to help a process run in a stable, predictable, consistent manner. Some common examples of process variables that are controlled by control loops include tank levels, liquid flows, air temperatures, and steam pressures.

A large industrial processing facility, like an oil refinery or paper mill, utilizes thousands of process control loops. This type of facility also typically utilizes a data historian to store data related to their control system or systems, plus other significant data. This data contains a wealth of information that can be used as a powerful troubleshooting or optimization tool. The trick is knowing how to use it.
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Introducing PARCview 5.4

PARCview-5.4Our developers have been locked away for months to bring you the greatest enhancements to PARCview since moving to 5.0. With cleaner screens, better flow, and enhanced capability 5.4 is our strongest release ever.

Converting to WPF Technology enables PARCview to be more user friendly and offer an experience very similar to working in native Windows. Want more? You got it! PARCgraphics now provides custom coding of your plant graphics and animations. Unlocking the potential of PARCgraphics to our users has long been our dream and we are excited to deliver this new tool. Don’t forget that PARCmobile is making the jump to HTML5 as well! These and many other advancements lie in store with version 5.4.0.0. Check it out on our Portal today!

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