Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

Use HTML5 technology with zenon: What works and what doesn’t?

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Line_State_DesktopHTML5 puts information onto the screen – modern and platform-independent. From the user perspective, completely uncomplicated and in the familiar environment; on their own mobile phone or tablet for example. Retrieving process information and enabling selective interaction – the HTML5 visualization is also integrated into zenon according to this principle.

Dynamic HTML5 content can be generated directly from a zenon project. You simply select the screens that should be available in the web. This is how informative dashboards and process overviews are created in no time at all. In doing so, the process operation behind this is based on proven zenon engineering and runtime technology. First, familiar properties and tools for the visualization design in the zenon Editor are used. Second, the productive process is reliably portrayed in native zenon technology. The whole range of visualization access can be used flexibly: native zenon Client, native zenon Web Client, zenon Terminal Server, Everywhere Server by zenon.

HTML5 visualization acts, to a certain extent, as an “add-on” for your equipment. This makes you feel at ease – not just when it comes to any necessary browser updates or any connection bottlenecks. This is how you pull the strings when configuring projects and operating your machines and equipment, while benefiting from the use of a simple HTML5 front end for easy access to visualization.

HTML5 – the basic approach

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

HTML5, where does it come from?

HTML_Screenshot_Tablet

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language – is a mark-up language that was developed back when the Internet was invented in order to be able to suitably structure and transmit documents i.e. web pages. The recipient, a web browser, should be able to interpret and display the HTML document accordingly. From the time the Internet was created this simple principle has basically not changed, but it has been properly beefed up.

Mechanisms and standards for adding dynamic elements to web pages through to so-called “web applications” have been developed over the years. Permanent interaction between the web server and client via the network is required. There are software frameworks and libraries galore. The web browser today is a complex system that handles the content received and, in doing so, generally executes complex program code.

A smooth user interface that quickly goes in depth

When we talk of HTML5 today, we mean the technological substructure of such a web application. On the surface, this can be represented by three parts:

  • HTML(5) still provides the fundamental structure for the web page.
  • SVG serves for drawing graphics elements.
  • JavaScript adds dynamic features to the web page and displays corresponding program logic.

But in fact, there are a number of other components that do their bit depending on the requirements of an application: communication, data processing, display, security. The list of tools and approaches could probably be expanded on a weekly basis; the versions on a daily basis. And this for both the web client and the web server. An HTML5 web application is developed within the dynamic environment of current web technologies. It then will continue to exist there too. Much more than just a few lines of JavaScript code are therefore needed.

Energy Data Management: Insecure cloud? Disadvantages and concerns

Friday, January 15th, 2016

LockAs tempting as the implementation of an EDMS solution in the cloud appears, there is some cause for concern. After last weeks’ blog articles describing EDMS solutions in the cloud, I’d briefly like to discuss these concerns.

Internet access is absolutely necessary because the service is only available online. The connection should ideally be stable, quick and synchronous.

In addition, the data is outside your own area of responsibility and some companies fear that they can no longer fully monitor it. The access to data also appears to be a weak point if it is transferred using the internet. In addition, data could get into the hands of others or be tampered with through hacker attacks.

However, if we assess these perceived weak points in detail, we understand that data in the cloud is subject to the same risk of attack as data that is stored locally in your own infrastructure. Successful hacker attacks usually are focussed on data that is in local IT infrastructure and not in the cloud. However, as a result of the centralization in datacenters, the danger of an attack is however increased.

Major cloud providers such as Microsoft are aware of this and know that their business model can only work if customers have trust in their products. For this reason, data security is of the utmost importance in Microsoft Azure. A range of integrated security measures ensure data security in the cloud. The exchange of data to the cloud is in encrypted form. Customers can select the datacenter where they want the data to be stored – there are two in Europe, for example. Microsoft provides more detailed information on the security measures for Azure at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us.

Outlook: A short conclusion on the previous blog articles about EDMS in the cloud

The cloud model has passed the start-up phase and established itself worldwide. Most of all, it is small and medium-size companies that can benefit from innovative solutions with the help of the cloud because the cloud removes the need to heavily invest in the setup of a comprehensive infrastructure and staff. The zenon Energy Data Management System is optimally tailored to meet such demands and it is being continually developed. The next version of zenon Analyzer, 3.0, will offer a number of updates such as efficiency class analysis, dynamic normalization of measured data, weather adjustment and much more. Let yourself be amazed!

 

The Possibilities of zenon and zenon Analyzer in the Cloud

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

The cloud offers some interesting benefits that make moving an energy data management system to the cloud interesting for companies of any size. You can implement the cloud solution flexibly, because both zenon and zenon Analyzer offer secure connections to Microsoft Azure. The following scenarios are possible:

Scenario 1: Data in the Cloud

With this variant, the software components, zenon Operator, zenon Supervisor and zenon Analyzer, are installed locally. The data is stored in the cloud. Energy data is recorded free from error in the LAN and does not depend on the internet connection. Only in the next step is the data stored in the cloud. If the internet connection fails, the data is cached locally until the connection is re-established again. The data that is stored decentrally can be called up from the cloud regardless of location. If the energy manager is not at the same site or if a company has several production sites, this is a decisive organizational advantage. Another plus is that upfront investment costs and running costs are low.

EDMS_Scenario_1_without_text_EN

Scenario 2: zenon Analyzer in the Cloud

In this process, zenon Analyzer is installed in the cloud in full. The data is stored locally on the respective zenon Operator or zenon Supervisor. For reports, zenon Analyzer gets this local data and creates the respective reports. This solution is primarily interesting if there are several production sites that record data independent of one another. The investment costs and running costs are low; the solution can be easily scaled up if required.

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Scenario 3: Both Data and zenon Analyzer in the Cloud

With this scenario, the infrastructure is almost completely moved to the cloud. The data is stored in the cloud and zenon Analyzer is also installed in the cloud. You thus no longer need to worry about data storage and the server infrastructure. The internet connection is no longer a limiting factor, because the data connection within the cloud is extremely fast. Here too, there is a decisive advantage in location independence: regardless of whether you have several production sites, regardless of where the energy manager is, the data can always be evaluated and analyzed anywhere. With this solution too, the costs are low and the storage capacity and computing power can be adapted individually and expanded quickly.

EDMS_Scenario_3_without_text_EN

Energy data management with a certain something – Reports from the cloud

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

If you have decided to introduce an EDMS, you have several possibilities for implementation. EDMS is generally set up locally and embedded into the existing IT infrastructure. Here there will be one-time investment costs in hardware and software, and the ongoing support must be guaranteed. The advantage of this solution is that you have it all in your hands, although the centralization, the cost of investment and the administrative expenses can be disadvantageous, at least initially. Alternatively, you can move parts of the EDMS to the cloud and thus minimize the investment costs and the ongoing support work.

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Why use Cloud Services?

The cloud offers some interesting benefits that make moving an energy data management system to the cloud interesting for companies of any size. The advantages are both financial and organizational:

  • Low, one-time investment costs
  • Location-independent EDMS
  • Quick and simple availability

And: it is the ideal solution if you are looking for a system that you can expand flexibly according to your needs. If, for example, production is distributed over several sites, then it does not matter where the energy manager is based. Integration is not significantly different from a local installation. You can implement the cloud solution flexibly, because both zenon and zenon Analyzer offer secure connections to Microsoft Azure. The following scenarios are possible:

  • Data in the cloud; zenon Analyzer local
  • zenon Analyzer in the cloud; data local
  • Both data and zenon Analyzer in the cloud

These three scenarios will be described in more detail in next week’s blog post.

zenon EDMS: Energy Data Management with a System

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

EDMS Energy consumption comparison per bottleCurrently only a few topics are as widely discussed as the directive of the European Union to increase energy efficiency. There are a number of solutions which support companies to achieve their energy goals. However, most are limited to the minimum legal requirements for the monitoring and recording of energy consumption and load profiles. This is an option, of course, but not the best one by a long shot. This is because implementing the legal requirements is, at best, just a scratch on the surface. A meaningful evaluation of energy efficiency is only possible if the energy used is also compared to the actual value created. To do this, it is necessary to include production data. Only then is it possible for companies to see how efficiently they really use energy.

zenon Energy Data Management System

When it is a matter of not just somehow managing energy data, but also increasing efficiency and reducing costs, we recommend our zenon Energy Data Management System (EDMS). First of all: it is not an off-the-shelf EDMS, but instead a customized solution package that can be individually adapted to your requirements. It meets the requirements of the TÜV SÜD “Certified Energy Data Management” standard and was certified accordingly. The zenon EDMS thus provides you with optimum support when implementing your ISO 50001 certification too.

A particular advantage of the zenon EDMS is that you do not need any specific hardware for the recording of consumption data. The zenon EDMS adapts to your infrastructure, not the other way round. Integration with existing systems can even take place during ongoing production. It also supports over 300 communication protocols and interfaces. You can thus include energy data from various sources. Metering points that do not allow automated recording due to their location can be read and recorded manually as offline meters. These meters and the attendant measuring devices are managed and administered in zenon using the specialized Metering Point Administration module.

When setting up the meters and measuring devices, you can set the parameters for recording the data in full. After this, you can flexibly visualize the energy consumption data in the familiar zenon way. Reports and key figures can also be displayed in real time.

High quality evaluation of historical data is another essential function of an effective energy data management system. The reporting software zenon Analyzer, with its enormous variety and flexibility, comes into play here. Reports are not predefined and fixed in zenon Analyzer; they are available as report templates. You can simply amend these with the supplied zenon Analyzer Management Studio. Once you have configured a report template optimally for your requirements, you can derive the report from it. In this way, a number of reports can be created from just one report template, offering many different perspectives on energy consumption: be it for a machine, a production list, the complete operating area or with filtering for batches, shifts and much more.

Even the basic zenon EDMS license includes ten report templates with different subject areas for trend reports, load curves, cost evaluations, annual load duration curves and more. As an option, further analyses such as a Sankey diagram, waterfall diagram or OEE analysis are possible.

With the zenon EDMS and zenon Analyzer, you no longer only measure and report on energy data, you can also assess it in relation to other recorded values and thus measure productivity or review it against your own key performance indicators. You not only record how much energy you have consumed; you can also evaluate how this energy was used. For example, you can receive key figures detailing how much energy you have used per day, per batch or per item.

You can access these reports at any time using whichever web browser you prefer. You do not need to install a client or a plug-in. You can create the reports required on a cyclical basis automatically and receive them via email.

 

Disk Space Handling in zenon – FAQs Part 3

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

How can zenon proactively notify users when resources become too low?

Part 3 Hard Disk HandlingDue to the fact that Free disk space – database (%) is essentially just another zenon variable, you can easily add a Limit or Reaction Matrix which is capable of color changes, visibility, flashing, etc. when a certain condition is met.

For example, a limit could be created on the Free disk space – database (%) variable which returns true when the free disk space goes below 15%. When this occurs you can generate an Alarm and/or an Event. Furthermore, you can require that this specific Low Disk Space alarm is in a special class, and requires acknowledgement from a system administrator.

To go another step further, you can add an additional limit on the Free disk space – database (%) variable which returns true when, for example, free disk space drops below 10%. On this limit you might add a zenon Function type “Send a Message” which sends an SMS or Email notification to a specific user or group of users about this event.

How can zenon manage the disk space and remove old data?

The zenon Historian module offers built-in mechanisms which grant the capability to either delete old archive data, or evacuate/move archive data to another location after a specific time period has lapsed. If configured properly, zenon is even capable of re-reading this data back into Trends, Reports, etc., although it may no longer physically reside in the same directory or PC anymore.
Although the sophistication of the zenon Historian enables it to manage archived data, zenon will continue to accumulate Alarms and Events from the time the project is first started. To manage the historical Alarms & Events, zenon offers a ready-to-use function called File Operations in the Function Group -> Windows.

The File Operations function can be used to move or delete files either on a time schedule (zenon Time Control Module) or when a limit is breached (Limit Function or Reaction Matrix Triggered). The function must, of course, first be parameterized with the operation (Copy, Move, or Delete) and the source and target directories defined. The File Operations function also allows wildcards and time filters to be used, for example: all files in the format *.XML – that are older than 180 days – should be moved to a network file server at \\MyNAS.corporate.lan\zenonData\old_alarms.

Conclusion

Industrial operating conditions will fluctuate to a certain degree. Exact estimates of how frequently value changes will be received by the HMI/SCADA system next month or how many alarms will be generated next week are often difficult to make. This is further amplified when unsolicited communications are used and data is being generated based upon these unforeseeable value changes (e.g. alarms, events, etc.).

The tools we’ve discussed here help to give zenon users an insight of zenon disk space use and flexibility in handling it. In this way, zenon ensures that your HMI or SCADA application can continue to run in industrial environments with minimum IT monitoring and involvement.

Disk Space Handling in zenon – FAQs Part 2

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Can zenon monitor the hard disk space?

There are a few methodologies that can be used with zenon to monitor the hard disk utilization. One method would include configuring the Windows OS SNMP Agent and using the zenon SNMP driver to read hard disk data in the form of process variables. Another alternative would be to use the zenon Programming Interfaces and the Microsoft .NET Framework to obtain management information via WMI.

However, the most straightforward method is to use the zenon System Driver Variables. Every zenon project has an internal driver available called the System Driver. The system driver has a wide collection of predefined variables that easily allow system-related information to be accessed by zenon Runtime and the HMI/SCADA system. Particularly of interest are the following System Driver Variables, available in the system driver variable topic -> Hardware resources (click table to enlarge):

Disc Space Handling System Driver Variables
In addition to these system variables the system driver offers other variables that may be useful in your project such as: CPU Usage %, Hostname, Servername, Total Alarm Count, Unack Alarm Count, Network Timeout, Total Received Packets, Total Sent Packets, etc. The system driver variables do not count towards your licensed zenon variables.

How can I see the free disk space in zenon Runtime?

After the system driver variable for Free disk space – database (%) is added to the project, the variable is free to use throughout the system.

It is good practice in a zenon project to create a “system information” screen to provide users with system-specific information on a dedicated screen. It would, of course, be wise to also display the system variable Free disk space – database (%) within this screen in the usual numerical value screen element, along with a text description. Then users can open this screen at any time and have a look at the real-time percentage of free disk space on the partition in which the zenon Runtime Folder is located.

Note: The “system information” screen is especially useful on systems where the user is locked out from the Operating System, the Runtime starts in full screen mode, or systems using the zenon Keyblock tool.

Disk Space Handling in zenon – FAQs Part 1

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Part 1 Disk Space Handlingzenon Runtime, by default, stores process data on the hard disk. This is true for a standalone zenon project, as well as zenon Runtime server(s) in a zenon network. This data consists of alarms, events, Historian, reports, exports, etc. Although zenon uses highly efficient native file formats by default, the amount of data recorded and accumulated by zenon Runtime can vary greatly depending on the project’s configuration.

The purpose of this series of blog posts is to provide an overview of zenon Runtime data storage and how it can be effectively managed to ensure optimal disk space utilization and performance over a typical HMI/SCADA lifecycle of more than 10 years.

Why does zenon Runtime save data?

A zenon HMI/SCADA system not only handles real-time current values coming from the PLCs, IEDs, etc., but is capable of maintaining records for historical reporting, analysis and compliance. zenon Runtime offers ready-to-use modules which are capable of reading from these historical files and presenting the data in a variety of forms. For example, one such module is Extended Trend. The zenon Historian can be configured to record measurement values for the last three months. These are saved onto the hard disk by zenon, and the Extended Trend module knows exactly how to read these files to present the user with a trend diagram in the Runtime.

Where does zenon Runtime save data, and what data is saved?

Runtime Folder: The zenon Runtime Folder contains both the compiled zenon Runtime Files and the zenon Runtime Data. The Runtime folder is commonly named with the zenon project name.

Runtime Files: are the compiled project files created by the zenon Editor. The zenon Editor’s Output Window will provide details about the compilation of the zenon project, but it is not necessary for you to become familiar with the different types of Runtime files and what they mean. The important thing to know is that your entire zenon project is compiled by the zenon Editor into a set of Runtime Files which the zenon Runtime can interpret.

The compiled zenon Runtime Files are usually quite moderate in size and are generally not a concern in terms of hard disk usage. Once a zenon project is live, the Runtime Files do not grow or expand, unless the zenon system is expanded intentionally by an engineer. The path where the Runtime files exist on the target system is user-definable. However, the Runtime files are consistently in a folder called RT, for example: C:\zenonRT\Project_SAS_1023\RT.

Runtime Data: is the data that is created and managed by zenon Runtime. The Alarm Message List, Chronological Event List, and Historian are some of the modules that actually store Runtime Data on the hard disk. Depending on the zenon project configuration, the Runtime Data can increase and use more disk space over the months and years of live zenon operation. The path where the Runtime data exists on the target system is user-configurable, but usually relative to the RT folder, in its own directory with the hostname of the PC e.g. C:\zenonRT\Project_SAS_1023\ServerA.

The following are some of the most common file types that zenon Runtime uses

.AML – The format written for a historical alarm file. To maintain historical alarm records, by default zenon will automatically create one alarm file per day. The naming format for these files is the letter “A”, followed by YYMMDD, for example: A151109.AML. The size of the alarm files depends directly on how many alarms are configured within the zenon project, and the alarm occurrence frequency.

.CEL – The format written for a historical event file. To maintain a historical record of chronological events, by default zenon will automatically create one event file per day. The naming format for these files is the letter “C”, followed by YYMMDD, for example: C150309.CEL. The size of the event files depends directly on how many events are configured within the zenon project, and the event occurrence frequency.

.ARX – The default and native format written for an archive file saved by the historian module. The size of these files is dependent on multiple factors such as the historian recording type (cyclic, on change, event triggered), the amount of variables recorded, and how often there are changes. The naming format for these files is the short name of the archive, followed by a timestamp of when the archive file was closed, in the format YYMMTThhmmss.

Secure operation with command sequencer

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

The zenon Energy Edition provides highly sophisticated features and functionality not only in substation automation projects but also for conventional or renewable power generation like hydro power plants or wind farms. Common to all these applications is the requirement to operate the environment in a highly secure manner.

In almost all electrical applications there are specific communication protocols like IEC61850, IEC60870 or DNP3 with features like “select before operate” or “select and execute”. Therefore the zenon Energy Edition provides a command processing module to handle all the communication-related issues, it is enhanced with user-defined interlockings, system-calculated interlockings based on the topology of the electrical grid, one- and two-step actions and much more.

Command Sequencer Interlocking_EN

Most of the time an operation is more than a single command. It is often a combination of different switching actions in a defined order, e.g. switching between busbars or the grounding of a feeder. In order to simplify such operations COPA-DATA has provided the Command Sequencer since zenon version 7.20. In a command sequence, the operator is able to graphically arrange all command actions necessary to fulfill a complete operation. The range of possible command sequences ranges from a single sequential procedure up to complex sequences and parallel execution. Once configured, the operator uses the command sequence instead of single command actions for operation. Using the Command Sequencer is the ergonomic way to ensure secure operation; the operator is not able to execute single command actions in the wrong order.

The Command Sequencer uses the pre-existing, well-established command processing, so there is no need for a second or parallel definition of command actions. All interlockings, two-step actions and other settings are the same for manual execution and sequential execution. As a result, it is also easy to extend existing projects with the Command Sequencer.