What You Need to Know about the ISA 101 HMI Standard: Empowering the Operator

Updated on April 5, 2017 

A HMI by itself is only a tool.

To be useful, it needs to be used — and that involves an operator. The ISA 101 group understood this, dedicating considerable space in the standard explaining how the makeup of HMIs should be designed to accommodate the operator.

I strongly believe one of the best things we can do in life is teach others how to accomplish a task. Teaching is a noble profession, perhaps the most noble around.

Somebody had to go through the trouble of learning the lesson before passing it on. Imagine how tough life would be if we had to learn and re-learn things over and over, constantly starting from scratch. Imagine if nothing was documented and there was no direction.HMI

If we want to learn how to do something today, we go to YouTube and select one of the dozens of tutorial videos available online. It’s nearly inconceivable to think of Googling a “how-to” problem and nothing popping up on your screen.

It’s because people spend the time to document and upload these lessons in order to pass on the knowledge that they’ve learned, saving the rest of the world from painstakingly trying to start from zero.

The ISA 101 HMI committee, a group formed to establish guidelines for human-machine interfaces in manufacturing and processing applications, published a set of standards for the industrial user interface that does just that.

The standard serves as an exhaustive set of guidelines created to help organizations design, build and operate effective HMIs. According to the authors, the primary purpose of the standard (and its accompanying technical reports) is to “help users understand the basic concepts” of a HMI and “more readily accept the style of human-machine interface that the standard recommends.”

The standard isn’t meant to be an out-of-the-box, by the letter set of guidelines for companies to follow. Rather, the standard is more of a set of criteria that gives organizations direction on how to create a set of standards for human-machine interfaces.

When all aspects and guidelines are taken into account, the ISA 101 group suggests they will contribute to reducing human error.

With respect to the actual device and its environment, the ISA committee included various suggestions ranging from guidelines for ambient lighting to density of displayed information and more.

It also outlines guidelines for user cognitive limits, offering suggestions for dealing with how a HMI’s design could impact cognitive processes that allow the operator to transform, reduce, store, recover and use sensory input.

The ISA 101 standards group committed much time setting up some guidelines for the way an operator physically interacts with HMIs, a practice commonly referred to as human factors engineering (HFE).

The HFE aspect of the standard provides guidance on how to design HMIs with respect to an operator’s needs. This guidance includes, but isn’t limited to, how the HMI functions intuitively, if it supports both normal and abnormal tasks— such as those experienced in alarm situations— and how it provides controls and information appropriate to specific tasks.

The goal of the standard’s recommendations on setting guidelines around how a HMI impacts the operator and vice versa is to improve their awareness of what’s happening in the process now and what will happen in the future. Inadequate situational awareness, ISA 101 group said, is a leading contributor to accidents that are attributed to human error.

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The work is based on decades of experience, includes several suggestions based on best practices and has a number of strong guidelines for specific situations.

Throughout the course of the standard the ISA 101 committee addresses the philosophy, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) for process automation systems. Much time is spent on the user, dedicating guidelines to improve the user’s ability to detect, diagnose and properly respond to abnormal situations.

The 61-page standard was a collaborative effort written by a group of veteran automation professionals including end users, integrators, academics and solution-focused professional services engineers, such as myself.

While the document provides a breadth of knowledge, there are a few important highlights in the document you should know about if you are someone who works with a HMI on a regular basis.

The Big Three: HMI Philosophy, Style Guide & Toolkit

A large portion of the document includes the creation of a system standard for HMIs, which establishes a lifecycle model for packages and provides a roadmap for how they should be developed and managed properly.

This management system serves as a sort of “standards gatekeeper” for HMI display and major system changes. The punch list of guidelines acts as a must-have set of standards, assuring major system changes adhere to agreed-upon guides or the existing pre-ISA 101 HMIs are continuously improved when display changes are made.

The management system is comprised of three parts: HMI philosophy, style guide and toolkit.

1) HMI Philosophy

As it pertains to the managed lifecycle of a HMI, the ISA 101 committee suggests a philosophy that provides “a foundation of concepts” that lets new developers and users understand devices better. The ISA asserts if the person understands the what, why and how of a certain device, that person will in turn create and maintain an effective HMI.

The HMI philosophy should be a strategic document, the standard states, which addresses guiding principles governing the design structure of the HMI. Suggestions for guiding principles are provided such as operational requirements, design standards and guidelines, work practices and more.

2) Style Guide

This provides the guidance for designing and building displays.

The HMI style guide includes the specific standards and guidelines for the design and implementation of the configurable HMI, drawn largely from the specifications set by the appropriate company or facility.

Since the standard is additive by nature, the style guide should incorporate and reinforce the guiding principles in the HMI philosophy, general design rules for displays and their associated applications, as well as provide guidance on usage of scripting, embedded logic and the use of color.

3) Toolkit

The standard lays out guidelines for a HMI Toolkit, the collection of design guidelines for use within a given platform.

The toolkit is designed to meet style guide requirements and includes display templates, pop-ups and faceplates, as well as static and dynamic graphic symbols.

Included in the standard’s document is a roadmap detailing guidelines for the process design, implementation and operation of HMIs.

Empowerment Through Knowledge: A List of Common Terms & Guidelines for Training

The standard suggests organizations should wrap HMI training into its existing training processes and follow relevant change management procedures for adjustments to the instruction just like any other training.

Training is broken into four areas: operations, maintenance, engineering and administration and management.

Operations: The ISA 101 standard recommends outlining training for operational tasks associated with the HMI such as interaction with the control system under all modes of operation, using the alarm system, retrieving historical data and more.

Maintenance: With respect to maintenance, it suggests training plant or site maintenance staff to be prepared to use the HMI to accomplish required tasks, as well as vendor documentation for both HMI hardware components and configuration tools, in addition to other things.

Engineering and Administration: On the engineering and administration side, training for the implementation or modification of the HMI should include familiarity with operation functionality, diagnostic tools, system backup and recovery procedures and more.

Management: The standard touches on management training by suggesting education of access to high-level production and plant-operating information.

Common HMI Terms & Acronyms

Included in the standard is an exhaustive, long list of industry terms and acronyms. From “alarm” to “yoking,” the document contains 46 terms with detailed definitions and another 16 acronyms.

While the list might seem a bit excessive for veteran automation professionals, its thoroughness plays a dual role. Both sides support the purpose of the standard.

Defining a term provides an accepted, agreed upon set of terms for the things we use on a daily basis that can provide guidance to newer engineers. It also clearly explains what the term means in simple, straightforward terms. This states what the term is, but more importantly defines what it is not.

It­­ spells out the 16 most common acronyms automation professionals encounter in the industry, providing a much-needed reference for the abbreviations that color so many conversations like HMI, SCADA, I/O and more.

Again, defining an acronym goes a long way towards clearing the confusion between automation and general computing. An example is the acronym “FAT.”

FAT translates to “Factory Acceptance Test” in an automation conversation, and means “File Allocation Table” when referencing the file system structure in general computing terms.

Apart from providing clarity, the definitions included come from a place of experience. So, it’s a far better reference for knowledge than an internet source with no attribution, such as Wikipedia.

Even with the intuitive design of most modern HMIs screens, the navigation and usage can be daunting for those new to the industry. The ISA guidelines on training users helps spread knowledge in an effort to create and empower all operators to be the best operators.

Looking Towards the Future: ISA 112 SCADA

The newly formed group ISA 112, SCADA Systems, is expected to release a series of ISA standards and technical reports in the not-so-distant future.

It will provide guidance on system design, implementation, operation and maintenance of SCADA systems by showcasing case studies of best practices within a range of industries.

The focus will be on companies and utilities within water and wastewater, power, oil and gas, as well as other industrial organizations that rely on SCADA systems.

Currently, there is no set release date as it’s still in the drafting process. I’ll be providing more information once it’s available in early May after the ISA Spring Leaders’ meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.

With the popularity of the Industrial Internet comes pressure that you have to change now to survive.

Embracing data and analytics as the driving force of your transformation is key, and that’s where I come in to help.

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I’m looking forward to helping you take the first steps to becoming a digital, industrial company.

Join me for my on-demand webinar Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

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3 Lessons from the Unsung Hero: HMI/SCADA

Unsung hero (noun). One who does great deeds but receives little or no recognition for them.

While in the midst of a changing industry, data revolution, and shift to focusing on operational efficiency, it’s no surprise that something like the HMI/SCADA landscape could be overlooked as the driving force behind efficiency.

In fact, in a recent guest post for ISA Interchange, Matt Wells, general manager of Automation Software Solutions at GE Digital declared HMI/SCADA as the unsung hero of eliminating unplanned downtime.

“Some engineers have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, without realizing that continuing to use obsolete systems to collect, connect, and act upon vast amounts of production data from anywhere will inevitably lead to higher, hidden costs associated with big repairs and unplanned downtime,”  said Wells.

Take Microsoft’s Windows XP that was launched in 2001. A large amount of control systems were launched with the platform because it was secure and stable. But as with many forms of technology, it became outdated and is no longer supported– making it extremely vulnerable to malware.

But Wells said this vulnerability and others can be avoided, as long as organizations reap the benefits from new technologies. Unplanned downtime can be avoided with HMI/SCADA.

Here are three important lessons from Wells’ post:

HMI/SCADA: The Gateway to the Industrial Internet

According to Wells, many HMI/SCADA developers have embraced OPC Unified Architecture, meaning their software can communicate with hundreds of different devices. With the strengthened security and multi-platform support, leveraging the Industrial Internet is made possible.

In other words, using the data that’s being collected by your SCADA allows you to identify more areas for efficiency improvement– whether that’s faster troubleshooting, lower operational costs, or increased energy savings. It’s the pathway to successfully leveraging the Industrial Internet.

Test Now, Save Later

No one is immune from security threats. And running through risk assessments once a year just isn’t going to cut it.

Wells urges the importance of regular risk assessments incorporated into schedule. Of course, the frequency of assessments might differ based on industry and plant apps. However, by starting small with a conservative goal, this can be accomplished.

According to Wells, there are a few things to remember when making strides toward more regular risk assessments.

  • Update your software with the latest patches
  • Employ secure technologies and methodologies
  • Follow the guidelines for maximizing security provided by your software partners

Don’t Forget to Upgrade Your HMI/SCADA

We couldn’t discuss avoiding unplanned downtime in a plant without acknowledging the importance of upgrading a SCADA.

“This can be addressed in a step-by-step approach that will not only increase uptime, but provide a range of benefits for your processing facility while preparing your plant for the future, a future where the Industrial Internet of Things is a reality,” said Wells.

If your software is more outdated than it should be, make a plan now to upgrade securely. Wells assures there are many benefits for modernizing your system.

  • Enhancing the security of your systems
  • Avoiding obsolescence
  • Leveraging the Industrial Internet and Real-time Operational Intelligence
  • Benefiting from new functionalities
  • Being able to mobilize your application – quickly and easily

And here’s a few other notable stories from the week:

Mapping the Road to 5G: The Network for the Internet of ThingsSONY DSC

Information Age said this week that the move from 4G to 5G is inevitable– especially in an age fueled by data, video, and mobile browsing.

According to the article, 5G is being defined by new radio access technology, multi-layered networks that can handle high throughputs and data volumes at very low latency.

“5G was born not only because of the user applications demanding high throughputs and high bandwidth, but also the increasingly popular trends of connected smart devices that will flood global markets in the near future,” said Ben Rossi of Information Age. “With the increase in wearable technology, motion-based sensors, voice command and eye movement sensors, 5G use cases are being driven by low latency and high-reliability requirements of these sensor-connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices.” 

Reliability will be vital in the 5G/IoT network, and “insights-driven, customer-centric service level assurance will play a big part in ensuring reliability and the promise of 5G networks.”

Cars, Trains, and the IoT

According to Hannah Augur of Dataconomy, the public transit in London made various strides toward the Internet of Things about a year ago, and other major cities are exploring new ways to use technology in this area as well.Unsung-Hero-HMI/SCADA

While driverless cars are exciting and often talked about, there are many other examples of connectivity in modern travel. But Augur suggests three specific areas where we might actually see this change take shape:

  • Usage-based insurance
  • Micronavigation
  • Connectivity

Read the full article for more insight on future “smart transit”.

HMI Interfaces: A Renaissance

The human-machine interface (HMI) is in the midst of a “rejuvenation,” thanks to touch-screen technology seen in smartphones and tablets, according to Al Presher of Design News.

By throwing powerful microprocessors and connectivity options into the mix, there are more possibilities than ever.

“The emergence of mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets is having a greater impact on HMI development,” said Jen Vacendak, product support engineer and trainer for B&R Industrial Automation. “As new engineers enter the picture, they are accustomed to using those types of devices and we’ll be seeing more of a merger between the two technologies.”

Presher predicts a key trend in the HMI renaissance to be remote monitoring, and the ability to view screens on mobile devices–providing valuable insight into any issues, any where, any time.

“Other interesting developments are the continuing miniaturization and improved power efficiency of electronics,” said Presher. “We may see the HMI mounted on the surface of the enclosure or the machine with just small hole(s) in the panel for power and communications instead of having to cut a rectangular opening in a panel to mount the HMI device.”


Media We Link To:

“The Unsung Hero of Eliminating Unplanned Downtime: HMI/SCADA” – Matt Wells, ISA Interchange 

“The rise of 5G: the network for the Internet of Things” –  Information Age

“Cars, Trains, and the Internet of Things” – Dataconomy 

“Human-Machine Interfaces Are Undergoing a Renaissance” – Design News

How Big Data Can Help Cut Healthcare Costs

We are in a digital era. It’s likely that very few people would argue otherwise.

Like most industries, the healthcare sector has digitized important records and filed them away in electronic databases– creating a trail of electronic health records (EHR)s for about a decade by now, according to a recent article by CIO.

It should come as no surprise then that healthcare professionals are beginning to see value in leveraging the volumes of patient data.

Data that could be used  for research such as finding environmental triggers in asthma attacks, for example. Or in cancer research.

Dr. Arjun Sharma of the University of Maryland said that cancer screening could be an example of using the massive amounts of data to personalize patient care at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) annual meeting. Sharma even described an app that could match patient data to the right demographics and personal risk factors– meaning a detailed analysis that could help to tailor a treatment process for patients.

Electronic health records aren’t only being used in cancer or asthma research, either. The answer to many medical questions may be hidden in the mountains of data.

And according to a report from McKinsey & Company, leveraging this data is going to save the healthcare industry  billions.

While it certainly seems difficult to place a dollar value onto healthcare data, the McKinsey report estimated savings to be between $348 billion and $493 billion.

“Based on early successes in the application of big data analyses, McKinsey estimates savings in healthcare costs between 12% and 17%.  Extrapolated to the $2.9 trillion spent on healthcare in 2013, this translates to between $348 billion and $493 billion in cost reductions,” said Greg Freiherr of the CIO article. “And that is in 2013 dollars.”

Of course, savings of this context might sound a little outlandish at first. Freiherr said that early successes might come first from the genetics databases. Or even in the data being collected by the CDC.

It may not be clear which arm of the healthcare industry will benefit first, or the fastest, but it is known that mountains of healthcare data are being collected every day– data sets that are full of opportunities to make informed decisions and improve patient care.

Here’s a few other notable stories from this week: 

Using Cellular Data to Fix Traffic Nightmares

According to Fortune Magazine, AT&T, UC Berkeley, and California’s state transportation authority are using big data to help alleviate heavy traffic in the the LA area.Big-0

The study maintains that by collecting drivers’ cell phone location data, the future design of highways and transit can be optimized. Of course, those involved in the study swear that the users’ privacy will be protected.

“The idea of using cellular data for mobility is not very new,” admits Alexei Pozdnukhov, assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Smart Cities program in the article.“What is new . . . is that our approach is much more detailed modeling. We can simulate very detailed scenarios, and answer questions.”

It’s the hope of the researchers that the data will help planners overcome traffic congestion events, which take place about 5,000 to 6,000 times per year, or 50% of traffic delays, on the I-210 in their area.

Food Manufacturing Q&A With GE Digital’s Katie Moore

Katie Moore is an industry marketing manager at GE Digital with a passion for manufacturing.  And according to her LinkedIn profile, Moore believes that brilliant manufacturing is transforming the industry.

“Why? Because machine to machine connections coupled with software analytics will lead to smoother operations, more up-time and better overall visualization in the plant,” said Moore on her LinkedIn page. “The result will be flexible manufacturing lines that can respond quickly to market demands, enabling early adopters to win. Software, data analytics and people will work together in new ways to drive huge incremental value to manufacturers.”

Moore told Food Manufacturing that starting small is the key, however, and much more in a recent Q&A about modernizing plant operations.

The IoT & Our Mobile Future: An Infographic

Millions of devices are being connected to the Internet each month. Some researchers say this number could even grow to the billions by the year 2020, according to Jeff Desjardins of ResourceClips. 

Not to mention the “connected lifestyle” now also means more wearables, smart homes, and connected appliances.

These stats can be rattled off over and over, but there’s something much more satisfying about visualizing the data: Click here to view an infographic that details the Internet of Things and our mobile future.

Media We Link To:

“How Big Data can help save $400 billion in healthcare costs” – CIO 

“The Big Data Revolution in the Healthcare Industry” – McKinsey & Company

“How AT&T is using drivers’ cellular data to help fix California traffic” – Fortune Magazine

“Food Manufacturing Q&A: GE Digital’s Katie Moore Talks Brilliant Factory Technologies” – Food Manufacturing 

Infographic: The internet of things and our mobile future – Resource Clips” 


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

The age of the industrial Internet is upon us, which means water and wastewater utilities are now taking advantage of newer technologies that are changing the landscape of our sector. With a few pieces of software, utilities can now optimize their operational performance, enhance asset reliability and accurately monitor their systems.

Some of the brightest minds on the planet are developing software for the next-generation of Industrial Internet technologies, and the potential advantages for the industry are nearly unlimited. These products allow for more intelligent management of assets by harvesting and processing massive amounts of data to produce actionable information.

The rate and complexity of this technological development can be both exciting and unnerving, even it may be unclear how everything fits together or what to do with all the available information.

So how does one even begin to incorporate it all?

Adapting to the technology can be tricky, but the first step is mentally preparing for this fundamental shift in your operational philosophy.

Getting started can be the hardest part, but it’s also the most important step in protecting your operation from unplanned downtime that can directly impact the bottom line; when optimized, these technological changes could save your organization millions of dollars.

It’s better to start with smaller changes, especially for your employees – this allows them to gradually get comfortable with new processes before adopting more advanced technologies.

Most importantly, a well-formulated plan will help your organization transform from a reactive and unpredictable operator into an efficient, intelligent and highly-profitable one where data is now your best business partner.

A Modern Utility’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

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Monitor Your Assets

To kick off your journey, let’s begin with basic monitoring of your most critical assets.

This is done by equipping critical machinery with sensors and control networks that read and manage the actions of that specific piece of equipment. By collecting and simplifying the data produced, an operation starts to form a solid foundation that determines how all the separate parts of the system are supposed to function as a complete unit.

While experienced personnel might believe they are very good at catching and solving problems before they become much worse, data is much more accurate and more reliable – it never takes a vacation or sick day. In other words, data is the key to all the dirty little secrets your machines keep from you.

As the industrial process unfolds, the installed sensors pick up information about the speed of each stcomputer-components-1192101ep, the volume of liquids, the internal temperature of a pipe, and where a leak may be letting air or water into the system.

The sensors and controls are doing the heavy lifting for you, which eliminates any doubt about what is happening within the machines. Once the data is harvested and funneled to one location, engineers can now watch and focus primarily on the data from an entire operation; they can access the information in a central office or remotely.

One way to access the system data is through an online Human Machine Interface/ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (HMI/SCADA) system at the point of control. This technology allows operators to view all systems in the process from one location, giving them greater access to real-time information and allowing them to make more informed decisions.

The other way to evaluate the data is through the cloud, which allows access from an established control center, but it also enables engineers to examine real-time data from a wireless Internet connection; this could be within the control center or out in the field. Now, any data being collected on the sensors can be analyzed at a central location, and controllers can remotely manage their assets.

Mobilize Your Workforce

Let’s take monitoring a step, or many miles, further. Using mobile applications, engineers have front line access at their fingertips from anywhere they can connect to the web.

Engineers can log in using apps on their iPad, pull up data for all systems under their watch, and monitor real-time information. Insightful and actionable information is always at the ready, so informed decisions can be made without delay, which helps avoid disastrous results and reduce unexpected issues.computer-monitor-tablet-and-mobile-1241520

Regular maintenance and upkeep will still be required, but the technology definitely helps keep small surprises from becoming major disruptions. Think about the cost avoidance from preventing a water line break: those costs alone makes it well worth it to know ahead of time when things might be starting to break down.

Fixing problems based on data and generally catching problems before they become catastrophic is beneficial on its own, but it still requires constant attention; even manual control leaves a lot of room for error. If that worries you, then you’re ready for some advanced analytics to take you to the next level of protection.

Diagnose Your Pain Points

When analytics come into play, the benefits of intelligent data come into focus – this is when your organization begins to learn the answer to “why?

By deploying an effective analytics strategy, you can begin to understand the data at a deeper level.

Even if history wasn’t your favorite school subject, you’ll learn to love it now because your data history holds the key to preventing major disruptions and optimizing your systems in the future. Instead of physically mobilizing the maintenance team, trained personnel can check the history of the data to discover the root of the problem. Once identified, the team will be able to write a new analytic to give warnings next time a similar data trend begins.you-are-ill-1-1246058

Predictive software works in a few ways. Some systems use cluster analysis or similarity-based modeling. Others use Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) loops to save millions of dollars in unneeded equipment wear-and-tear that can result from large-scale process variability. These systems identify normal equipment behavior as they predict future behavior. This level of intelligence takes numerous variables into account, so these highly-complex relationships (with the data that accurately predicts future states) are based on any particular variation in one or more inputs.

Here’s how it all happens.

Imagine you’re the only person who drives a given road every day to work – there’s no traffic, no lights, no turns.

This is how a machine would work if no other factors came into play, but it’s never that simple. As the area around your commute gets developed, you start to encounter stop signs, crosswalks, construction that blocks a lane or two, and (usually when you’re running late) you get stuck behind a garbage truck. Even though every day your drive is different than the last, you gradually learn from experience, so you’ll know how to react to each future interruption for a safer commute.

This is essentially what happens with advanced analytic modeling. New input variation – new equipment, new materials, new processes, temperature and seasonal changes, and so on – has an effect on the function of each dependent system. Engineers can trust that a certain fluctuation of one input will have a standard reaction in a system down the line.

For example, a drilling operation in a harsh environment with volatile weather patterns would have an established analytic model that determines what the proper internal temperature of a machine should be, compared to the outside temperature. This allows for variation in “proper” internal temperature and makes it easy to distinguish when any deviation is acceptable or if it requires further examination.

The frozen winter months in Michigan will keep internal temperatures on the low side, but it’s a different scenario when everything starts to thaw: you will know how strong the correlating rise in machine temperature is supposed to be, or if the deviation is too extreme and signifies a real threat to the system’s stability.

Learn from History

They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, so why limit how much history you can reference?learn-1241297-1279x1933

Water and Waterwater treatment both produce a massive amount of data that is eternally useful; limiting your amount of data only limits your ability to make informed decisions. Industrial Big Data gives you the freedom to mobilize much more information than previously possible.

With the right applications, you will be able to gather data from more sources over a greater duration of time than ever before. You can compare all this data to your real-time activities to make quicker, more informed decisions than ever imagined.

In addition to the emerging technology, cloud-based applications are a major factor with Industrial Big Data because massively scalable storage environments can collect from (and disperse to) variable locations give you the flexibility to work on more data and do it faster.

For example, solutions built on Hadoop®, can handle large data sets by clustering large numbers of low-cost commodity computers together to act as a single storage entity. Historian software allows for economical storage while maintaining rapid access speeds. These solutions scale vertically, for any velocity, as well as horizontally, for any volume and variety.

Optimize Your Operation

Now that your operation is working smarter and leaner, and you’ve built your trust in predictive analytics, you’ll be ready to move further down the efficiency continuum. More sophisticated software analytics won’t only catch problems before they happen, but they also allow you to standardize your process across all parts of the operation to optimize performance and value. Electronic instructions are provided to operators to ensure that the best methods of work are followed every time at every place, regardless of experience or training.stability-1-1240118

The most modern predictive analytics software available now allows you to move from self-defined analytics to a stage where machines learn on their own and constantly write their own analytic rules. You could call it artificial intelligence, but it’s a very realistic shift from unplanned to planned downtime, which could potentially save your company millions of dollars. Predictive-analytic software reduces maintenance costs and improves asset lifetimes to a greater degree than human monitoring could ever do.

Yes, we will still require human interaction and maintenance, but some things simply can’t be done manually. Advanced software can adapt to variations much faster than humans, where the system sends signals to automated controllers that keep everything running in optimal balance.

The point of control goes from the HMI/SCADA system (or iPad app), and becomes starts to become embedded into the controls hardware itself. The information runs in a closed-loop system that greatly reduces the human element, requiring manual interference only when a major issue arises.

Now Dive In!

When all layers of software are incorporated into your maintenance and oversight strategy, you have reached your destination: you are a lean, mean, data-using machine. By taking each step one at a time and steadily marching towards the goal of automation, your oil and gas facility will be at peak performance in no time. Without having to worry about managing emergencies or wasting money on unnecessary procedures, think how much better your job will be at a safer, efficient and more cost-effective operation.

About the Author

AlanHAlan is the Vice President of Water/Wastewater at Gray Matter Systems. Alan has over 20 years experience working in water/wastewater and is an expert is water distribution information technologies. Alan is a frequent speaker at industry events around the country.

This content appeared originally as part of “Damned If We Don’t!: Ideas for Accelerating Change Around Water” and is being reproduced with the permission of its author, Alan Hinchman.

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