NOV-DEC 2017

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FAST FORWARD l Process historians were once simply software packages that stored and pre- sented real-time process data, but today historians are being used for much more. l Thanks to more universal and open interface technologies, many more plant information systems can send and access historian data. l Historian suppliers have created specialized analysis packages to view, analyze, and manage alarms, safety systems, assets, production, consumption, and other information. 16 INTECH NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 WWW.ISA.ORG A t one time, process historians were simply software packages used to store and present real-time process data. Today, how- ever, historians are being used to do much more. Process historians are being used to store ever-increasing amounts of big data originating from a much wider variety of sources, including control and monitoring, laboratory information management, enter- prise resource planning (ERP), and asset management systems. Orga- nizations are also using them to transform this and other data into actionable information to implement and improve equipment di ag- nostics, maintenance, safety, alarms, production, performance, and other process plant activities. Finally, historians are an essential part of integrating the enterprise, acting as a hub to distribute this in for- mation throughout the enterprise in various formats via company in- tranets, the Internet, and the cloud. This article explores the changing role of process historians and illustrates how these concepts are being used in process plants worldwide with application examples. Deluge of data At one time, historians were fed data primarily by the process control system, usually a distributed control system (DCS). Older historians relied on a proprietary database, which often limited user access and made it difficult to interface with other plant information systems. Now, thanks to more universal and open interface technologies—such as OPC, Ethernet, and SQL—many more external systems can send and access historian data (figure 1). Advances in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), including the increas- New roles for process historians Beyond storing process variables, historians are turning data into actionable information By Wayne Matthews

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