Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

By Daren Maynard

Getting the data to make decisions

Decisions are best made when you have the data to back them up. As IEs we have to look at how we log the collected data, so we use a data logger like Matrikon-OPC’s Industrial Data Logger. Or at times we have to make a decision such as how much spare inventory to stock by using data-driven software like MaxUp Advantage.

There are many data sensors and repositories that work better with an intermediary known as data loggers. The Industrial Data Logger is designed to transmit data securely from a third-party sensor to another third-party data storage device. The universal connectivity protocols embedded in the logger make it a top option to use in hybrid data collection systems that have various components, which sometimes are in remote locations.

The logger integrates with the different databases (e.g., Oracle) or process monitors (e.g., Aspen). The buffering ability of the logger holds the data for a period of time on its hard drive before sending it to the central archives. This can be an advantage for data integrity, especially if connections are lost between the logger and the central archives. The data is sent in batches and only removed after confirmation that the archives have received the information. Users can access this data locally or remotely.

Data must be kept secure during transmission between remote locations. The Industrial Data Logger transmits its data as bundles in a compressed and secured format using OPC Tunneller technology. The device has security administrative controls for user access, application run permission and port usage. The system is compliant with NERC CIP and other security requirements. The use of open source technology for the logger helps to future proof the system’s architecture.

In inventory systems, spare inventory is often a guessing game. MaxUp Advantage software helps manage this spare inventory from a data-driven approach. The software algorithms determine the optimum stocking level and identify potentially critical spares. This is done by uploading lead-time, usage, criticality level and probability of part failure into the software. The software also has a library of specialized spare parts suppliers for lower cost and quick sourcing of OEM or OEM-equivalent components.

The software notices trends in using spare parts to help with predictive maintenance. It can calculate potential failures of parts and recommend purchases. This reduces downtime while waiting for parts and makes sure the right parts are ordered, which minimizes unwanted inventory and balances the investment in terms of emergency purchases, obsolescence and reliability. The spare parts are not part of the regular manufacturing inventory systems so it is critical to keep track of them for productivity, repairs and warranty purposes – the software algorithm is designed for this task.

Daren Maynard is the portfolio management lead for Novus Tech Limited and F1RST.com in the Caribbean. He has an M.S. in program and project management and a B.S. in industrial engineering. He is a member of IIE’s Young Professionals group.