Soft Sensors In The Process Industry

The process industry is an industry that is consistently changing as processes are refined and innovative technologies are always changing the processing landscape. As complex systems are installed upgraded and monitored, expectations for profitability and smooth delivery of product remain.

Soft sensors, with predictive models, provide scenarios in which estimations can drive decision-making and improve the reliability of current systems, often working hand in hand with their hard sensor counterparts thus creating comprehensive monitoring networks.

Soft sensors are in essence virtual sensors that can alleviate the need for more expensive hardware sensors by their accurate predictions, and are relied upon heavily in the process industry. Their real-time predictions can alleviate restraints often brought on by limitations: either budget, person hours or current operating equipment. An engineer in the process industry, say at a chemical plant or a food processing facility, may have federal environmental regulations they must contend with and they are in need of an accurate way to measure lab data and temperatures, all the while staying in budget and controlling their capital expenditures. They may also have frequent challenges with a particular part of the process, requiring swift data to troubleshoot and identify the bottleneck and or challenge. Soft sensors can provide an economical and effective alternative to costly hard sensors, which require are expensive investment, require constant servicing and maintenance, and often fail. Through soft sensors, approximated calculations can provide in theory what raw data provides in reality. Using the last year of data, for example, a soft sensor can build a data model and a process engineer can then utilize a variety of calculations on which to base decision-making.

Check out our real-time process analytics tools & see how you can reduce downtime & product loss.

Soft sensors maximize your current data and signals that you have already collected in your process. Rather than consistently replacing and spending valuable budget dollars on hardware, the alternative soft sensor solution works in tandem with your existing hardware sensors; hard sensors you already have and are already in place in the process. By utilizing what is already there, both complications and downtime can be avoided. To summarize, a process engineer could use soft sensors connected to your existing hard sensors. A facility will benefit by the ability to perform real-time analyzing, monitoring and control, provide reliant calculation of parameters where no hardware sensor is available, and reduce purchase and maintenance costs.

Through development of the dataPARC’s PARCview industrial data visualization software, dataPARC has its own version of soft sensors. Why would dataPARC’s soft sensors be advantageous for you in your plant or facility? Working in tandem with a soft sensor, The PARCmodel component of dataPARC’s product group predicts plant quality variables in real-time, allowing for estimation of properties that are impractical or impossible to measure online.

PARCmodel also reads live data, such as temperatures and pressures from the plant and uses them to calculate estimated quality values from user-entered models. PARCmodel Build models based on first principles or empirical models developed through techniques such as PCA and PLS.

Integrating IT & OT data at your plant? Let our Digital Transformation Roadmap guide your way.

PARCview soft sensors also do the following to ensure smooth operations:

  • Utilize data from Any Source

PARCmodel can read in data from any source available to PARCview, including OPCDA, OPCHDA, Plant historian systems, SQL, and Excel.

  • Are Intuitive and User Friendly

PARCview provides a familiar user interface for model creation & optimization through drive model building with our Trend control.

  • Feature Closed Loop automation control

Leverage your Soft Sensor models for use in advanced control applications. Soft Sensor models can be directly exported to MACSestimator, our online model calculation engine for closed-loop control. The Soft Sensor output can be used like any other process value in the control solution.

Do you think that dataPARC’s soft sensors could be helpful in your facility? Contact us today to learn more and get customized product suggestions for your company.

Digital Transformation Roadmap

Download our Digital Transformation Roadmap and learn what steps you can take to achieve data-driven success in manufacturing.