Longwatch introduces Video Historian to archive manufacturing video

November 172008
Longwatch introduces Video Historian to archive manufacturing video
November 17, 2008 — The Video Historian extension for Longwatch’s Video Surveillance System enables users to acquire and store video clips linked with process and manufacturing variables such as time of day, camera number, batch step, machine ID and other control system tags. Much like a process historian that stores information about processes, the Video Historian archives video that documents procedures in batch applications, provides visual proof of regulatory compliance, monitors machinery, observes operator actions, and helps improve quality, reduce downtime and avoid costly losses.

The Video Historian module can be added to any Longwatch Video Surveillance System via a simple download. The Longwatch Video System includes Video Control Center and in-plant or remote Video Engine software to manage multiple cameras. The Video Engines acquire and store high-definition video images and provide video clips documenting defined events. Multiple Video Engines interface to the Video Control Center through the plant’s Ethernet or control network (wired or wireless), delivering “video clips” generated by the Video Engines to HMI/SCADA workstations, Internet browsers or mobile phones.

Standard Longwatch Video Surveillance software allows video clips to be viewed on a plant’s control system HMI/SCADA screens, or sent to web browsers or cell phones. The Video Historian module allows video clips to be archived, along with relevant process variables. This enables users to access video records of events, activities and trends in a similar way they currently access historical data. Correlating video with process/manufacturing events can greatly expand the user’s ability to manage their operations.

Configuring the Historian
Users can specify the length of video clips, attach real-time data to the video, and coordinate video data with external SQL data bases. Users can command a camera to start, pause, stop, pan and zoom based on external inputs, conditions detected in the camera image, or commands from a process control system. For example, a video clip can be commanded during a batch step to record an operator’s actions when adding ingredients to a reactor. The video clip can be stored by the historian with time of day, camera number, recipe number and batch step number. If a problem comes up later with the batch, the video clip can be reviewed to ensure that the step was performed correctly.

The Longwatch Video Engine software, which controls each camera, is capable of detecting significant changes in the image, such as an intruder, vehicle or object entering the field of view. A video clip is created automatically whenever such an event occurs, or when triggered by a PLC or operator command.. Such abnormalities can trigger an alarm, and cause the video clip (of video before, during and after the event) to be sent to the Video Historian. An operator, alerted by the alarm, can switch to live video for further review and decision-making.

The Video Historian interfaces with almost all HMI/SCADA systems, enabling users to configure, control and view videos directly on an HMI screen. Commands to archive video data can also be entered into an ISA88 batch recipe using OPC commands or other scripts.

Viewing Video
The Video Historian enables users to examine stored video to compare operator actions and process procedures, improve machine control and process operations, identify control problems, and study the actions of machines, people and equipment. The historian can recall any video clip, or a series of related clips, for playback on the HMI screen. The user can “filter” clips according to starting times, batch IDs, production lines, cameras or similar criteria. Multiple video clips can be viewed individually, side by side, or four at a time, and each video window has its own controls for forward, reverse, play and pause. A “synchronize” toggle button on the screen allows video clips to be “synced” with each other.

This function allows engineers to compare operator actions, observe process equipment under various conditions, or look for abnormalities between process segments to answer questions such as: Why was this batch different? Why does the valve fail open? What causes the pipe to leak? Why does the robot miss picking up the part? Did the operator actually complete that step?

The Longwatch system is based on a distributed system architecture that provides video storage in the plant or remote areas, near the cameras. The distributed architecture provides for better scalability and fault tolerance; it also enables the user to better manage the load on his/her network, especially during plant upsets. Longwatch software may be deployed on Longwatch appliances or customer-supplied PCs. Streaming video is stored on each device, all of which can be directed to expandable local- or network-based storage devices. Historian video clips are saved in a central SQL database.

Process historians archive all relevant information about process conditions before, during and after a process for later analysis. The Video Historian adds video clips, referenced to process or manufacturing steps, control tags or other data to enable inclusion of the relevant video for plant operations and analysis.

Longwatch enables users to manage video on their network
Continuous video is stored remotely in high-resolution format by the Longwatch Video Engines and/or external storage devices for up to 30 days or more. When requested or triggered, video clips are sent to the control room by the Video Engine with a user-selected resolution that is appropriate for the plant’s networking capabilities to minimize impact on communications. The “video packets” are sent over the network (either Ethernet or proprietary process) in such a manner as to not interfere with real-time process control activities. In systems using a high-speed network, the Historian can also provide video playback at the HMI of continuous video from any of the Video Engines. In both cases, high-resolution video images can be obtained easily when needed for evidence or for further examination from the Video Engines.

The Longwatch Video System is the only video system specifically designed for full integration with HMI and SCADA systems, and with data historians. Its distributed system architecture is designed to coexist with existing network infrastructures regardless of the networking protocols or bandwidth, thus improving utilization of current infrastructure and providing the capability to scale as new networks are deployed.

About Longwatch
Longwatch, Inc. was founded by industrial automation and software veterans with the goal of simplifying video delivery over existing SCADA, HMI and distributed control networks. The result is the Longwatch Surveillance System, a portfolio of products that enables SCADA system users to view events and easily verify alarms at local and remote sites using both legacy and new networking infrastructures. The system integrates video and system alarms on the same display for fast, reliable operation and decision-making.