New Historian Simplifies Data Capture & Analysis | Automation.com

New Historian Simplifies Data Capture & Analysis

February 232015
New Historian Simplifies Data Capture & Analysis

By Bill Lydon, Editor

Kepware Technologies recently introduced a new Local Historian Plug-In for the KEPServerEX communications platform and a Splunk plug-in to support big data systems. I spoke with the company’s John Harrington and Aron Semle about the new products. They explained the products were born from customers’ requests for an easy to install and use historian for various plant applications, including labs, test situations, and at remote sites.

Unlike plant historians that cover an entire facility, the new desktop, local historian stores data close to the process in a PC. Kepware developed a high speed database that is included in the Kepware Local Historian Plug-In. The KEPServerEX communications platform supports drivers to communicate with a wide range of devices and systems, including typical automation, business and building automation systems. While it does not have all the speed and features of a large plant historian, the value of this product is easy setup and low price, allowing it to be used for a wide range of applications. The Local Historian Plug-in supports data timestamps with one millisecond resolution and configurable data collection scan rates as frequent as 10 milliseconds.

Installation Requirements

The new Local Historian Plug-In is easily installed on a technician’s computer, an industrial PC next to the process, or embedded in machinery. The software will run on Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 Professional/Enterprise/Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Windows Vista Business/Enterprise/Ultimate, Windows Server 2003 SP2, and Windows XP Professional SP2. Minimum system resource requirements are 2.0 GHz Processor, 1 GB RAM, 180 MB available disk space, Ethernet Card, Super VGA (800x600) or Higher Resolution Video, D-ROM or DVD Drive.

Operation

The Local Historians can be used by operations as a tool for troubleshooting, trending, and improving processes. They are easily configured and modified on-the-fly to meet changing use cases and applications. Data is stored in what the company terms a datastore. There is a limit of one datastore per KEPServerEX project. A datastore has a physical disk location, which can be a local or external drive (Example: USB drive). A datastore also has a retention policy that users define to control how long historical data is kept per tag. Data older than this policy will be purged.

Once a datastore is defined, operators can query the software for various types of information, including location, retention policy, tag count, storage rate, and size on disk. Tags are added to a datastore for historization by browsing the server for Static Tags or users can add Dynamic Tags manually. Tags can be added one at a time or in bulk. The scan rate, deadband, and enabled state are configurable per tag, and can be bulk edited on-the-fly. For example, it’s easy to increase the scan rate of a group of tags in order to troubleshoot a problem with more granular data. Historical data for tags are accessed via OPC HDA (Historical Data Access) which enables use of dashboard, trending, reporting, and calculation tools from a wide range of vendors. The address space for OPC HDA and OPC DA are the same, making it easy to correlate real-time and historical data.

The Local Historian Plug-In captures and archives Value, Quality, and Timestamp data for specified tags based on user selection.

Splunk

Complementing the Local Historian Plug-In, Kepware partnered with Splunk, a multinational corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. Splunk produces software for searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data with customers throughout the world.

Splunk’s goal is to make machine data accessible across an organization and identifies data patterns, provides metrics, diagnoses problems and provides intelligence for business operations. Splunk software captures, indexes and correlates real-time data in a searchable repository. It can generate analysis, graphs, reports, alerts, dashboards and visualizations. The publically traded company (NASDAQ: SPLK) was founded in 2003 and has a short, but impressive, history. Splunk has more than 8,400 customers worldwide and sales of more than $300 million.

Splunk Plug-In

Kepware developed the Industrial Data Forwarder (IDF) for Splunk Plug-In, which makes data available for business and operational intelligence in the Splunk software environment.

User screen for Splunk Connection displays information for multiple items and streams data directly from KEPServerEX to Splunk software.

Thoughts & Observations

These two products are an example of leveraging industrial automation and big data software platforms to provide more tools and enable users to solve problems and improve operations.

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