Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A closer look at the situational awareness HMI/SCADA graphics

According to a recent article in “Automation World”, when you consider situational awareness, HMI screens are ground zero for the concept. That’s why there’s been so much focus recently on the HMI color guidelines presented in the High-Performance HMI Handbook and the ASM Consortium guidelines. 
“But there are inconsistencies between the color standards listed in those two sources,” says John Krajewski, Director of Product Marketing at Invensys.

Invensys is not looking to dictate that one or the other of these paths is right or wrong; we’re looking to allow the user to implement the practices that best fit their business.”
To deliver this, Invensys has “abstracted color out of our system platform to allow users to choose the color palette that fits their operation best,” says Krajewski.
In the new InTouch software, Style Libraries are offered that allow the user to choose color palettes that conform to the ASM Consortium guidelines or to the High-Performance HMI recommendations. These style definitions can also be altered to fit a company’s unique requirements. “This level of selection is critical since we serve nearly every industrial vertical,” Krajewski notes.
“Initial testing indicates that use of these new style definitions and standardized colors can help users reduce situation interpretation time by 40 percent and can lead to a five-fold improvement in detecting abnormal situations before they occur,” says Krajewski. “After initial detection, the new navigation aspects of the software can improve the success rate for handling abnormal situations by as much as 37 percent; and we’ve seen a 41 percent reduction in the time required to complete tasks.” 
Updates to the Historian software are another key aspect of the overall System Platform update. The new Historian supports up to 2 million data points in a single instance of the historian. To put that in perspective, the 2012 revision (released two years ago) supported 150,000 data points; the 2012 r2 version (released last year) supported 500,000 data points. “Plus, with the new Historian, you can tier multiple Historians together to give you a nearly limitless Historian platform,” adds Krajewski.
The ability to access and store this many data points also impacts visualization. After all, having the ability to log so many data points is one thing. Accessing them and, more importantly, understanding them in the correct context and extracting meaningful information from them is another. This is where Invensys’s holistic investment in the System Platform comes into play.
For example, consider the new alarm aggregation capability, which segments alarms into four categories: Critical, High, Medium, and Low. “This grouping is based on best practices from EEMUA and ISA 18.2,” says Krajewski, as he notes that default settings for these categories are as follows:
  • Critical alarms are those that need to be responded to in less than 5 minutes;
  • High alarms need response within 30 minutes;
  • Medium alarms in less than 60 minutes; and
  • Low alarms are those that require a response in less than 120 minutes.

“These times can be adjusted based on the needs of the business,” he adds.
Extending the notion of combining style and content for visualization are the new Symbol Wizards, which allow users to simply point-and-click to assemble HMIs. “Considering that many of those tasked with creating HMIs lack the depth of experience of a 15 or 20 year engineering veteran, Symbol Wizards make it easy for less-experienced personnel to leverage the experience embedded in the software to create best practice HMIs,” Krajewski says.
Krajewski explains that, using the Symbol Wizards, customers are walked through the process of adding, say, a pressure transmitter to the HMI. “The Wizard eases the development of presentation layer of the transmitter by asking the user about the transmitter’s high and low limits, averages, etc.,” he says. “Once those questions are answered, the symbol is created using best practices. With the Software Wizards, HMI creation is driven by domain-oriented knowledge, not software expertise. The Wizards allows users to focus on their capabilities without being software experts. Being software experts is our job.”
Read the full article at:

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