3 ways visualization software can align operations across enterprise layers

Obtaining a clear high-level perspective of operations throughout an organization calls for a consolidated software environment able to unify OT, IT and ET, providing corporate users with single-pane-of-glass visibility.

By Doug Warren October 4, 2023
Courtesy: Aveva

 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how a 360-degree visualization overview is possible for manufacturing and processing companies to derive intelligence from software integrating multiple enterprise levels.
  • Consider how visualization software can improve consistent information for a command center and disparate IT/OT/ET systems, remote operations center and occasional users providing web-based interface views.
  • Understand that integrated visualization software can deliver data-derived intelligence.

SCADA for IIoT insights

  • A 360-degree visualization overview is possible for manufacturing and processing companies to derive intelligence from software integrating multiple enterprise levels.
  • Visualization software can improve consistent information for a command center and disparate IT/OT/ET systems, remote operations center and occasional users providing web-based interface views.

It is common sense for any manufacturing or processing company to strive for maximizing efficiency on the production floor, including the operation of all field equipment. There also are gains to be made at the site-wide operational and at the enterprise-wide corporate tier. But what is the best approach for coordinating and optimizing gains from all functional areas?

Implementing digital technologies is a key element for helping companies maximize operator effectiveness and operational efficiency. Human machine interfaces (HMIs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and other manufacturing and enterprise software can help. But addressing company needs across the entire enterprise requires more than common HMI/SCADA visualization and analytics or business intelligence tools.

To obtain complete enterprise operations performance visibility in real time, companies need software enabling them to fully unify operations. Enterprise visualization converges field operations technology (OT) and corporate information technology (IT), supporting analysts and other users over the engineering technology (ET) lifespan of the systems in their realm of responsibility.

Obtain a 360-degree overview for manufacturing, processing companies

360 views: Relevant data takes many forms and originates from an exceptionally wide range of sources and systems across all levels of a business, sometimes even external to the business. Three examples spanning various organizational areas include:

  • OT sources: process data, quality data, alerts/events, key performance indicators (KPIs) and energy consumption

  • IT sources: Enterprise resource planning (ERP), including financials, orders, shipments, suppliers, bills of material and others; analytics; weather and environmental data; market and commodity information and video surveillance

  • ET sources: 3D modeling, map and GIS integration, engineering schematics and maintenance documentation.

Process data is needed to inform analytics efforts. Alerts and events are associated with imminent maintenance work. Energy and commodity pricing can prompt decisions about how much and when to run. Yet it is all too easy to see how such varied data can remain siloed, trapped in specialized and sometimes proprietary systems.

Relating numerous disparate data with proper context is a challenge of its own. But reducing the effort for users to deploy such software, while delivering valuable understanding when and where it is needed to support effective action, demands capabilities spanning all layers. Effective convergence is the key to delivering a full 360° view of the complete enterprise and requires a solution that can be deployed flexibly for diverse consumers of organizational data.

Visualize operations with software at multiple levels

Personnel working at the operational edge rely on panel-based visibility, and increasingly on handheld devices for mobile and off-site viewing. At the supervisory level, workstation and process control room (PCR) visibility become more relevant to support control and execution efforts. The enterprise may have several categories of users, each with unique visualization needs flexibly for diverse consumers of organizational data.

Command center integrates disparate IT/OT/ET systems

Many large companies use a centralized approach to view the supply chain end-to-end so they can optimize activities on a macro-level regionally or globally. An integrated operations center (IOC) can integrate disparate systems to underpin controlling and sustaining activities, or a centralized operations center (COC) may be more focused on converging IT/OT/ET data across the business value chain for command and dispatch decisions.

Remote operations center for distributed organization

Distributed organizations often find it difficult to staff subject matter experts (SMEs) at all sites. In these cases, a center of excellence (CoE) is typically the best way for SMEs and other experienced groups to handle performance and other issues spanning many sites. Local site-based personnel can engage the CoE team as needed, and the team can work to solve complex problems across the business and fleets of assets.

Occasional users, web-based interface views

Even the largest organizations will have executive and strategic analysts, ranging from just a few to perhaps hundreds, pursuing independent projects. These projects often require investigation of operations activities, key performance indicators (KPIs) and other topics in the pursuit of optimization and reporting. Users in these areas require access to the information, preferably though a web-based experience.

Connecting with assets, processes and operations to effectively gather data and produce information, and then get it to the right personnel, requires an integrated and layered software approach (Figure 1).

Figure: The Aveva Unified Operations Center is an enterprise solution for enabling intelligent operations spanning OT, IT and ET, delivering single-pane-of-glass visibility and contextualized information to all user levels. Courtesy: Aveva

Figure: The Aveva Unified Operations Center is an enterprise solution for enabling intelligent operations spanning OT, IT and ET, delivering single-pane-of-glass visibility and contextualized information to all user levels. Courtesy: Aveva

Delivering data-derived intelligence

Digital transformation technologies have revolutionized all levels of enterprise operations, supervision and management. While addressing each of these areas individually is good, complete visibility is better, but only possible if all operational levels are fully unified. Organizations should look for a consolidated software environment that goes beyond traditional HMI/SCADA by incorporating analytics, advanced visualization, and multiple deployment models to support users in all roles.

Doug Warren is the Aveva monitoring and control business lead; Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: SCADA, HMI, digital transformation, manufacturing visibility

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Author Bio: Doug Warren leads Aveva’s monitoring and control business, which includes HMI/SCADA offerings from the edge to the enterprise. He has decades of experience with measurement, automation, and software solutions used by industries throughout the world. Warren graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1985 with a degree in Natural Gas and Petroleum Engineering Technology.