Many different types of plant data are available to most companies in principle. Often even more than can actually be processed. This is generally due to insufficient recording, a lack of compatibility or software that is lacking in functions. So much data that could benefit performance and innovation in a company is lost before it can even be analyzed. But why is such attention given to plant data collection (PDC)?
For future-orientated plant management, for example. For superior quality assurance. For increased performance. For reliable KPIs (such as OEE) that provide reference points that are actually usable. For excellent project documentation. For successful energy management – with and without the inclusion of the new ISO 50001 standard. There are enough good reasons.
System: The "be-all and end-all" of plant data collection
The recording of plant data centrally and with a clear overview is still too rare. Often the really important data is distributed on different media and must be combined later, laboriously, late and with a risk of errors. From the machine operator's clipboard through overflowing Excel lists to databases in different formats, the plant data is collected. A bad initial situation for any analysis that is supposed to provide meaningful results.
If plant data is collected, it is important that this is collected systematically from the start, provided in easily-processable formats and guaranteed for reliable processes, even for many years to come. This means no more pieces of paper, Excel lists and different formats. This means software for plant data collection that can work with a wide range of inputs. It must log and present information from sensors and the HMIs directly in the same way as already-processed data from SCADA systems, MES and ERP. However manual inputs must also be possible.
Software for plant data collection must offer interfaces for many different possibilities of input, work systematically and reliably, and easily provide information in many formats. Data collected, in compressed form as a report, provides information to management. Data collated in real time, direct from the equipment, provides the energy management system with the basis for valid forecasts. KPIs enable decisions on future developments.
Perfect integration for comprehensive plant data collection
The data collected by the PDC must be processed into meaningful results. Firstly the data is required often enough in real time such as to supply an energy management system with energy performance data on a permanent basis. Secondly the data should also be available on a long term basis for further processing and analysis. It will be historically evaluated, accompany and document projects and ensure a valid basis for a performance assessment. Therefore it is also expected, most of all by management, that evaluations and analyses are available quickly as reports, distributed to specifically-addressed people in charge and can ideally trigger automatic reactions.
Software for plant data collection must also work communicatively and very precisely. Both of these things require comprehensive and seamless integration into the equipment – hardware and software. In order to collect data from the whole plant, the application must be in a position to communicate directly to as many sources as possible, with individual sensors as well as machines and parts of equipment, but also with the building services system and other applications such as MES or ERP.
This communication should have the lowest amount of interim stages as possible. Each interim stage could lead to errors in transmission and interpretation. A direct connection is thus the best way of collecting data. This means that the software must have many drivers and communication protocols. Only then is it in a position to query all necessary information and to forward this.
Precise collection of data from a plant ensures successful strategies
Corporate strategies can only be successful if the basics are correct. Objectives, projects, ways to improve performance and quality assurance - their success depends on the initial data being correct and that monitoring and development data that is constantly being collected is correct. Precise plant data collection is thus an indispensable basis.