If you’re like us, you’ve likely been sent an email or told in meetings that part or much of your company staff will now work remotely. Testing for remote computer access and data volume traffic are ongoing as plans are being worked out for this new structure. For most companies, that means VPN or other remoting methods. Virtual meetings are replacing face-to-face ones and pseudo to full quarantines are on the rise. Phone conversations will go on but this won’t fully suffice to cover staffing roles. And besides, you’re talking to neighbors and wondering if you should take one more trip to the grocery store. In the midst of all the chaos, your company still needs you to not only do your job but to excel at it.
Going 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.
The 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 first step toward understanding and optimizing a manufacturing process is to collect and archive data about the process. Hopefully the system used to accomplish this is a “plant-wide” information system, or PIMS, which collects not just process data, but also quality information and laboratory results, and operations information such as upcoming orders and inventory. Collecting data and putting it in a historian is relatively easy, and most control system suppliers and some third party software vendors offer this capability. The real value of a PIMS is determined by how that collected data is organized, how it is retrieved, and what options are available to help you garner meaningful conclusions and results from the data.