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The power of organised data

22 February 2021

Sree Hameed explores the benefits of SCADA systems in food processing applications. 

Despite the fact that even a 1% improvement in efficiency can have a significant impact on operations and revenue streams many globalised business models and supply chains still find it a challenge to unify data in real-time. 

Human machine interfaces (HMIs) were the first technology to establish a link between a machine and its operator and together with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software, they can provide an effective solution to reducing machine or process downtime. An intelligent system design will incorporate context, time/date and a filtering mechanism to understand the problem and the symptom. Edge computing comes into play here, as it provides logic at the source and makes machine data available in real-time.  

Along with the growth of automation and software advances, HMI has evolved as a category, today the technology is capable of supervising an entire network of machines (where the tag count or data points could be in the tens of thousands to millions). In essence, the initial technology construct that served as a basic link between machine and operator now offers scope of supervision such as the equipment line, performance of the plant, value chain; scope of visualisation – understanding the type of input, for example text, images, or video, and where this information will reside; and scope of data collection – whether that is process historian, plant historian or enterprise historian data.

Unifying diverse data streams such as alarms, power management systems, maintenance schedules, production data, inventory information, supply chain, engineering information, and more takes time and domain expertise. Without a comprehensive solution for extracting relevant information in an organised manner, the magnitude of uncontextualised data becomes an obstacle, making it difficult to organise teams to make the kind of agile decisions needed to maintain productivity.

Combining HMI with SCADA into an integrated software platform to enable situational awareness of the work process along with ease of engineering and administration and governance of the system was a major milestone in the evolution of the technology. Today that platform has evolved to support Edge-to-Enterprise situational awareness across the value chain.

Wider digital transformation
Establishing a foundation for integrating real-time data across an enterprise can drive a wider digital transformation throughout industrial operations, including engineering, planning, scheduling optimisation, and asset performance management. Iterative development, a templatised approach, and data-driven system development form the critical foundation for the deployment of an edge-to-enterprise system that drives value across the entire asset and operations lifecycle.

There can be no doubting that the food processing sector is undergoing a revolution – many have already dramatically streamlined operations to increase efficiency and cut costs. Through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), vast amounts of data relevant to all levels of business are becoming available in real-time. Yet without a strategy that unifies and contextualises such volumes of data, it can be challenging to extract relevant insight and coordinate rapid action. 

An edge-to-enterprise approach to industrial data management will provide the required framework for unified command and control at all levels of an organisation – and through cloud, this data can be made available from any device, to any authorised person, at any time.

Sree Hameed is global marketing manager for Food, Beverage & Consumer Goods industry at AVEVA.

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