The ‘Fit for the Future’ series has explored a number of topics relevant to building a solid foundation on which your business can grow. The next step, and subject of this article, is on capturing and utilising high-quality data. .
Implementing, optimising or expanding your data collection with a fit-for-purpose historian is vital to not only measure the return you’ll see from following the other steps in this series, it can gather the data to enable you to anticipate, diagnose and prevent costly repairs, downtime or inefficiencies. So, what are the first steps and what, in a nutshell, does an historian do?
In short, an historian is a time-series database of values collected from across your operation. This data is measured and stored at regular intervals, allowing you to look back over time at trends and records to complete valuable analysis.
In certain industries, this historical data is required by law to demonstrate compliance with rules and regulations, such as a pasteurisation process which requires a minimum temperature to be maintained for a specific length of time.
First, let’s look at what an appropriately configured historian can do for your operation. Simply by capturing and trending the right data, you can ensure your operation is working as expected. Critical control points, such as temperature, pressure, pH, chemical concentration, etc. can be monitored to ensure the correct values are maintained within acceptable thresholds. Deviations can be identified and corrected in a timely manner, both by your operators and through automated processes when integrated with a future-ready monitoring and control platform.
The next challenge many businesses face is how to store and make use of their data. How much is kept on a live server? How much is archived? Are you storing it locally or in the cloud? Are those archives suitably protected against data theft or ransomware attacks? Can you provide data to the relevant authorities when required? While the articles to date in the ‘Fit for the Future’ series answer many of these questions, utilising this data once acquired and stored is vital for staying competitive in a modern environment.
Improved data quality provides the opportunity to explore data analytics use cases, such as predictive maintenance, with the insight helping to determine the remaining useful life of components enabling maintenance to be performed at the optimum time, reducing the downtime associated with planned maintenance and maximising each components full potential.
Attempting to carry out analytics work in applications such as Excel can prove difficult. A better route is through a dedicated analytics application, using the historian as the primary source of data. Many of these analytics packages allow your operators to reach accurate and actionable conclusions without the need for a data scientist or an operator with a data science background.
Many industries are beginning to catch up to the powerful insights to be derived from their data. Implementing an historian is the first step to reaping the rewards outlined throughout this series of articles. By building an historian into your operation you can further ensure efficient operation and gain a level of awareness of your processes, production and maintenance requirements which can otherwise be difficult or costly to acquire.