Longwatch operator’s console recorder captures HMI screens exactly

Video play back of what an operator saw at the time of an event can be a valuable tool for training, problem-solving.
By Renee Robbins September 24, 2009
Longwatch-V5-update-screens.jpg
Longwatch V5 update screen

A software module that automatically records images being shown on multiple HMI or SCADA operator displays is now available from Longwatch. The Operator’s Console Recorder module takes signals directly from each HMI screen’s video software driver, recording the actual video being sent to the HMI. The software can accommodate video signals from an unlimited number of HMIs to show what operators were watching at the time of an event, alarm or process upset.

Playing back what the operator was seeing at the time of an event can be a valuable tool for training and analysis, and can help mitigate insurance and regulatory issues by eliminating guesswork and conjecture, says Steve Rubin, president of Longwatch. "Before, recording and playback of an operator’s HMI was clumsy and limited. One method was to put a camera over the operator’s shoulder. This is intrusive and intimidating, and the camera has a limited ability to read what’s on the screen."

It is possible to recreate console displays with data from the process historian, says Rubin, but this requires the historian to record all the data values present on every display. Also, "no one knows which screen an operator was actually watching at the time of the event. An operator could have been looking at a trend display, not the alarm summary screen," he says.

Videos used for monitoring plant activities can be combined with the operator console videos and data from a process historian. This enables engineers, analysts or investigators to see what was happening in the plant, what the operator was seeing on the HMI screen at the time, and all relevant real-time data that occurred at the time of an event.

"Used together, the Longwatch Operator’s Console Recorder and Video Historian fills the gap between normal plant data acquisition and actual plant management," says Rubin. For example, in the case of a leak at a pumping station, investigators could watch plant video taken at a remote site showing fuel oil creeping across the floor of a pumping station, real-time data being acquired from pumps, valves and the receiving tank while the leak is occurring, what appeared on the operator’s HMI screen, and the alarm screen that came up when the leak detector went off.
When combined with the automatic data mapping capability of Longwatch’s Video Historian, the Console Recorder can automatically retrieve and replay operator displays simply by clicking on a time-based alarm or system message.

For more on how a video console recorder works, visit www.longwatch.com.

See also:

To See and Control
– Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

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