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An Industrial virtual engineer - How to trust future innovations now

In this post, I will demonstrate how a simple bridging piece of technology can bring multiple standalone innovations together to help kickstart engineers problem solving or approach. We have Microsoft’s Power Apps Virtual Agents on one end of the stick and the mammoth that is industrial data on the other.


We have been working hard to make problem-solving easier for engineers who are tackling intricate and complex issues on a day-to-day basis who require data interpretation from various industry-standard data silos. The latest addition to our portfolio is Microsoft’s Power Platform Industrial App Store connector which can bring real-time process values as well as Alarm and Event (A&E) data together from many different types of industrial historians (the out-of-the-box list can be found here). It seamlessly integrates plant and corporate data within Power Platform application such as Power BI, Power Automate, etc. This connection enables us to leverage AI capabilities within Microsoft’s Virtual agents to enrich problem-solving by getting the agent to suggest e.g. which application to use, queue monitoring systems depending on equipment status, get tag values or A&E reports just to name a few.

Data historians are used throughout industry for mass-long term storage of time series data. There are a number of historians on the market with varying popularity but one thing they tend to have in common is their lack of integration options to popular visualisation tools such as Microsoft Power Apps. As such, this valuable operational data is often inaccessible to the business making cross-data analysis with commercial data impossible. Often companies have to develop custom applications which are expensive, difficult to support and can sometimes lead to security issues.

As well as solving data connectivity issue this is trying to promote unconventional and futuristic ways of approaching a problem in a field where innovation is not necessarily adopted at the same pace as say retail industry.


That said, let’s take a look at how this would look in practice.

 

Problem

Sometimes when presented with a problem like unexpected shutdown or alarm floods we need a helping hand to kickstart the solving process. Nowadays engineers have plenty of tools to interrogate adequate data sources to help arrive to a solution. Sometimes one can spend quite a few man-hours going through different tool looking for an answer but what if you could just ask someone “What is the current value of LIC040” or “What are my current bad actors”. Straight forward and immediate answers to these questions could definitely kickstart the solving process.

 

Solution

Intelligent Plant developed the Industrial App Store which enables interaction with all the different historian data through a unified API. Earlier last year (May 2019) Intelligent Plant released an official, Microsoft certified Industrial App Store connector for Power Apps. No more hefty SQL queries with no easy real-time update option or complicated architecture solutions, simply install Industrial App Store connect and out of the box you will be able to connect to Aspentech IP.21, OSIsoft PI, Honeywell Dynamo, OPC DA & HDA, Siemens and many more. This allows our customers to bring data from various sources into intuitive virtual assistant to deliver insights that weren’t possible before. Real-time updates prompt money-saving decisions by engineers that also increase plant safety and efficiency.

Say you need to know what your current Bad Actors are for HSE report. Yes, the engineer can dig out a tool where you specify various parameters, then wait for it to run the aggregation, etc. Or you can try asking your virtual assistant “What are my current bad actors for Asset X”. Take a look at the video below on how this technology could assist and save time when facing similar issues.

 

Roundup

Intelligent Plant’s Industrial App Store Connector enables Microsoft’s powerful analytics and visualizations to be applied to real-time and historical process data. Seamlessly integrate plant and corporate data and share with any colleague on any device, enabling faster, better, real-time decision making. The Industrial App Store Power BI Connector connects to Intelligent Plant’s Industrial App Store, while all data remains secure and safe on-premises. The plant data may be centralized in a corporate data lake or globally dispersed across many sites and historians. Either way, Industrial App Store Power BI Connector brings it all together and delivers to your fingertips.

 

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Useful links

Intelligent Plant

Industrial App Store 

Industrial App Store Wiki 

Intelligent Plant YouTube channel

Meet Our Blog Authors
  • PowerApps Community Mentor 2018, Practicing surgeon and former Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois, Chicago.
  • I am the Owner/Principal Architect at Don't Pa..Panic Consulting. I've been working in the information technology industry for over 30 years, and have played key roles in several enterprise SharePoint architectural design review, Intranet deployment, application development, and migration projects. I've been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 12 consecutive years and am also a Microsoft Certified SharePoint Masters (MCSM) since 2013.
  • Systems developer
  • My name is Timothy Shaw and I create digital solutions using the Power Platform, Office 365, and Azure SQL and handle the IT for a small company in the energy sector. When not building the future :), I enjoy playing guitar, good (or really bad!) sci-fi, Xbox therapy, and hanging with my wife and son. Twitter: @ShortForTim