Real-time Video Adds Fourth Dimension to HMI Software
Monday, October 7, 2013
by: AHTD

Section: Press Releases




Real-time Video Adds Fourth Dimension to HMI Software
By: Craig Resnick, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group

ARC feels that it is important for the process and discrete manufacturing industries and automation suppliers alike to focus on tools that improve the interaction between systems and operators. Maximizing operator effectiveness is essential to minimize the risks of accidents, eliminate unscheduled downtime, and maximize production quality, all of which will increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The global process industry loses $20 billion, or 5 percent of annual production, due to unscheduled downtime and poor quality. ARC estimates that almost 80 percent of these losses are preventable, with 40 percent largely due to operator error.

Since it’s well accepted that "seeing is believing,” integrating real-time live video into human machine interface (HMI) tools provides an excellent opportunity to maximize operator effectiveness. Live video adds a "fourth dimension” to today’s intelligent visualization and control solutions for both fixed and mobile applications. Integrated, recorded video can also improve operator training and provide cause-and-effect insight for process improvements.

Integrate and Synchronize Real-time Live Video with HMI

Most HMI solutions only provide the operator with a partial view of what’s happening across the process. When real-time live video and other external applications are not well integrated with the display, the operator is confronted with many different types of visualization tools and unsynchronized data. This breeds confusion. Those working within industry have always needed a powerful, synchronized visual overview of their processes.

Visualization systems should focus on operator tasks and responsibilities, not on the technology itself. To enable operators to make the correct decisions quickly, while reducing training requirements, operators require synchronized and appropriately contextualized information. This is only possible when the applications have been well integrated into the HMI, enabling all infor-mation – including live video, documentation and operator instructions, and maintenance and production data – to be presented on any screen at any time, whether in a control room or from a mobile device.

HMI software solutions with integrated, real-time live video can be deployed in applications such as overall process monitoring, operator replacement, visualizing difficult process areas, and connecting process data to DVR video. For example, many process areas cannot be seen from the plant floor. Using these solutions, operators can remain at their respective locations while viewing critical, yet hard-to-reach process elements or areas. In addition, linking the HMI’s his-torical trends and alarms with the synchronized video enables plant personnel to view the process at the exact time an alarm or critical event occurred to be able to take appropriate corrective action to prevent reoccurrence.

Real-World Applications

Technology users across a number of different industries have, or are in the process of, integrating real-time live video as part of HMI software solutions for a variety of different applications. Typically, this provides quick ROI and enhances ROA by helping eliminate unscheduled downtime, minimize accident risks, and maximize production quality and OEE.

For example, in the metals industry, a company that processes exotic metals used by aerospace suppliers uses video as a "virtual operator” to monitor its specialized forge press used to shape the metal crystals prior to machining. This process can take about a week. If the operator does not mount the mold properly, the forge will be damaged. This can result in several months of exceedingly costly downtime. These integrated real-time video solutions collect the video and stream it live to the operator’s display, providing an integrated view of both forge parameters as well as video of the ingot being loaded. Since the cost of the solution represents a tiny fraction of the cost of a single incident, avoiding just one incident results in immediate ROI.

Another example is a power company that experiences sporadic leaks at its pumps that transfer #6 fuel oil from the tank farm to the boilers. In the past, due to problems with the sensors, the company lost a significant amount of oil before the leak sensors triggered an alarm. In addition to the cost of the oil, this resulted in expensive fines, costly cleanup, and required time-consuming paperwork for environmental agencies. By integrating real-time live video within the operators’ HMI, operators, can visually monitor the pumping area be able to immediately see and respond to any leaks. The company also uses the recorded video to provide documentation to the environmental agencies to help avoid expensive fines.

Several municipalities also use live, real-time synchronized video technology to monitor security and/or process operations at their unmanned water treatment plants, pumping stations, or reser-voirs from operator consoles located at manned plants or other central locations.

Clearly, real-time, synchronized live video integrated into HMI and other plant operations man-agement applications and properly contextualized can play an important role in improving a company’s performance, while also enhancing safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

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