SCADA system scrutinises plant performance

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Automation software innovators COPA-DATA have launched a new module for their zenOn SCADA system that analyses alarm data to increase plant performance and reduce downtime. The Industrial Performance Analyser (IPA) module analyses alarm data statistically to determine weak points in a process.

In a complex machine or manufacturing process, SCADA system alarms are vital to alert operators to a stoppage or error. Typical weak points could be a physical obstruction, a part failure or control system error.

However, basic alarm software will not tell the user which alarms are producing the most downtime, or what causes the error. For this reason, the Industrial Performance Analyser (IPA) tool for the zenOn SCADA system was conceived. It is a lightweight, ready to use tool to help plant managers effectively define key performance indicators (KPIs) and make the essential changes that ensure a productive plant.

Alarms are not just caused by the plants hardware and maintenance demands, but also by user error. The new module records alarm data and references it to a zenOn session so that an alarm can be traced back to a specific shift and operator. This transparency means that plant management can take action to correct not only machine but also human error.

With the powerful filtering functions of IPA the user can easily analyze shift productivity by choosing between gross and net production times. This makes it possible to exclude shift breaks from the calculations and compare the actual, ideal, and unintentional production downtimes

To set up the IPA, the operator selects the existing zenOn alarms that they wish to monitor, these are then recorded into an SQL database for use by the IPA module. To reduce IT administration, an existing database with an ODBC connection, for example MS SQL, Oracle, Informix, IBM DB2 can be used.

Control elements can be added to a standard zenOn operator interface using the built-in editor. The visual interface designer simply defines the picture type as IPA and the element will be updated in real time from the IPA database. Examples include a list of the top ten most frequent alarms is a common choice when commissioning a plant. Other possibilities include pie charts and bar graph performance indicators.

A key advantage of the zenOn SCADA software is that a picture [view] can be edited, then published to selected operator interfaces without needing to restart any terminals. Markus Helbok, Product Manager zenOn commented Because IPA elements can be integrated into a zenOn picture, it has the same look and feel as any other zenOn operator interface and is easily set up. This reduces operator training and makes IPA a cost effective and practical solution for finding faults and improving productivity.

For flexibility, an external viewer is available for the IPA. However, the modules real strength is the integration into zenOn. MDI (Multiple Document Interface) pictures such as event lists, alarm schematics can be added to a zenOn view so that plant operators gain a comprehensive overview of operations at a glance. Significantly, IPA picture types can also be published in real time using the zenOn webserver to a PC or other web terminal without additional configuration or programming.

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