Posts Tagged ‘Reporting & Charts’

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!

 

zenon Analyzer – Viewing reports on mobile devices. Part 4: Windows Phone

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

zenon Analyzer Report on Windows PhoneFrom the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and upwards, Reporting Services support viewing and basic interactivity with Windows Phone 8 devices.

The Analyzer Manager is supported; you can simply open the report by using the Analyzer Manager; browse the directory in Analyzer Manager, and then tap the report name to open the report.

As UNC paths are not supported by the mobile version of Internet Explorer it is necessary to enter the Analyzer Manager IP-Address of the host (e.g. http://192.168.0.55/Reports_ZA2).

Restrictions

As you have no gesture for mouse-over you cannot enter the sub-menus in the “Tile View” of the Analyzer Manager (in order to rename, move, … a report)

Reports from E-mail

When using an e-mail that is created by a subscription, tap the URL of the report. The report will open in the browser.

Exporting a Report

Exports as an XML, CSV, PDF, MHTML, Excel, TIFF or Word are possible.

Conclusion

The reports work very well on Windows Phone 8 device. The license is verified.

zenon Analyzer – Viewing reports on mobile devices. Part 3: Galaxy Tab or Smart Phone (from Android version 4.1.2 and upwards)

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Android OS is NOT officially supported by the reporting services. However it operates with similar restrictions to those of IOS devices.

The Analyzer Manager (http://<computername>/Reports_ZA2) does not function and cannot be used to view reports. Instead, you can contact the Report Server directly by entering the Web Service URL (http://<computername>/ReportServer_ZA2).

The picture you see is like this:

zenonAnalyzer_Android

In this web page you can browse through the folders and open various reports, but again there are some restrictions:

As we have modified the existing filters in the Analyzer Manager (e.g. the Date/Time filter) and developed some new filters (e.g. Equipment model), you can use these filters with full functionality, but with reduced usability and inferior graphical representation. Only the look & feel of the filters provided by the reporting services are still available.

Example:

zenonAnalyzer_Android_2

In this example you can see 2 filters which deviate from our regular standard:

  • The time span filter is only a text-box. You have to enter the filter conditions textually
  • The Equipment group filter is a flat list. You cannot see the structure of the equipment model(s)

Conclusion

The reports function work, but are different to operate. The results shown on the screen are equivalent to the reports shown in Internet Explorer 11, for example.

zenon Analyzer – Viewing reports on mobile devices. Part 2: Microsoft Surface Tablet (with Windows RT)

Friday, April 4th, 2014

zenon Analyzer on Windows SurfaceFrom the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) onwards, Reporting Services support viewing and basic interactivity of reports on Microsoft Surface devices.

The Analyzer Manager is supported; you can simply open the report by using the Analyzer Manager. Browse the directory in Analyzer Manager, and then tap the report name to open the report.

Restrictions

As you have no gesture for mouseover you cannot enter the sub-menus in the “Tile View” of the Analyzer Manager (for example in order to rename or move a report)

Reports from e-mail

Using an e-mail that is created by a subscription, tap the URL of the report. The report will open in the browser.

Exporting a Report

Exports as an XML, CSV, PDF, MHTML, Excel, TIFF or Word are possible.

Conclusion

The reports work perfectly with a Microsoft Surface device.

 

zenon Analyzer – Viewing reports on mobile devices. Part 1: iPad or iPhone (iOS 6 and newer)

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Mobile devices such as tablets or smart phones are becoming more and more important. They have an integrated web browser, although these browsers sometimes offer restricted functionality. This blog entry series will show you, which mobile devices cooperate with zenon Analyzer and which restrictions exist.

Starting with the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Reporting Services support viewing and basic interactivity with Apple IOS 6 and Safari browser.

Unfortunately some of the Analyzer Manager functionality (http://<computername>/Reports_ZA2) is not supported, so you cannot use the Analyzer Manager to view reports. Instead, you can directly contact the Report Server by entering the Web Service URL (http://<computername>/ReportServer_ZA2).

The picture you see looks like this:

zenonAnalyzer_MobileDevices

In this web page you can browse the folders and open some reports, but again there are some restrictions:

As we modified the existing filters in the Analyzer Manager (e.g. the Date/Time filter) and developed some new filters (e.g. Equipment model), you can use these filters with full functionality, but only reduced usability and less advanced graphical representation. Only the look & feel of the filters provided by the reporting services is available.

zenonAnalyzer_MobileDevices_Example
In this example you can see 2 filters which are different to our standard:

  • The time span filter is only a text-box. The filter conditions must be entered in text format
  • The Equipment group filter is a flat list. You cannot see the structure of the equipment model(s).

Reports from e-mail:

From an e-mail that is created by a subscription, tap the URL of the report. The report will open in the browser.

Browser settings:

Ensure that the “Private Browsing” property for Safari is turned off.

Exporting a Report:

Exports as a TIFF or PDF file is possible.

Conclusion

The reports work, but are different to operate. The results shown on the screen are equal to the reports shown in Internet Explorer 11 for example. As the Analyzer cannot check for a valid license it must be guaranteed that the user is licensed correctly in the ZAMS.

Reaching ISO 50001 with zenon. Part 2: Monitoring, Measurement and Analysis

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

What the International Standard requires:

One section of the ISO 50001 Standard relates mostly to the technical requirements to measuring, monitoring and analyzing relevant energy uses. Relevant variables must be recorded (sampled) at planned intervals and compared to planned energy performance and performance objectives. Although this part of the energy management definition is one of the most specific ones, it shall be assumed that it is also one of the most demanding ones. Typically, a variety of different automation systems and measurement equipment as well as other IT-systems are relevant for energy monitoring. Manual data input will most likely be necessary in order to complement the information base. A respective energy management platform shall allow for a seamless integration of all relevant inputs. Furthermore, current standings as well as statistics have to be made available to the relevant people or archived for later investigations and audits.

How zenon supports the fulfillment of these requirements:

  • zenon comes with more than 300 protocols of proprietary and standard industrial networks and field-busses. Hence, without any further development effort zenon can be hooked up to a variety of industrial control systems, sensors and actuators. Through the support of proprietary communication protocols, zenon can be integrated in a “non-intrusive” manner. Solely reading from existing installations means that the existing automation environment and control programs don´t have to be adapted. This allows for fast implementation and an immediate indication on the validity of improvement steps taken. Moreover development, debugging and commissioning costs can be reduced drastically.
  • Values can be visualized and monitored in flexible ways. zenon Logic offers possibilities to define control and monitoring programs in IEC 61131-3. Each event of data alteration or received commands from other stations or simply time based events can be used to trigger respective actions. Automatic alarming is integrated into zenon as well as the possibility of logging each user interaction. Respective lists (alarm lists, event lists etc.) can be filtered as well as exported into universal text based formats (XML) for use in other applications.
  • Monitoring, Measurement, Analysiszenon offers a variety of functions for advanced visual design. This allows for a meaningful display of the process status and statistics based on historic and real-time data. With the advanced networking capabilities of zenon, visualization clients can be flexibly arranged within all levels of the facility.

 

RDL Reports: Tips, Tricks and Limitations

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

RDLWhen designing an RDL report for zenon Analyzer or Report Viewer, there are some questions that might arise:

  • Can timestamps be converted from localtime to UTC and vice versa?
  • How can units be applied to numeric fields in tables?
  • Are there any limitations when using dynamic property values for elements?

Here are the answers to those questions.

Timestamp conversion

The good thing is, that the datetime object in RDL is effectively the datetime object of the .NET Framework, which means that the methods “ToLocalTime” and “ToUniversalTime” are available. So the only thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the object before conversion is a datetime object. Here are some samples:

//converst report parameter “From” from local time to UTC
CDate(Parameters!From.Value).ToUniversalTime()
 
//convert dataset field “Timestamp” from UTC to local time
CDate(Fields!Timestamp.Value).ToLocalTime()

Units in format strings

There are 2 ways to add units to an output element (like a textbox or a table cell):

  • The first way is to convert the number to a string and then append the unit. This is done in the value definition of the output element. This way is not recommended, as the value is converted to a string and additional calculations in exported reports (e.g. export to Excel) will not be possible.
  • The ideal way is to use the plain numeric value as value for the output element and then apply the numeric format including the unit in the element format definition (property “Format”). But there are some things to consider when going this way that are explained below.

Firstly, the unit and the number information have to be concatenated into one string:

//3 decimals and hardcoded unit “kWh”
=”0.000 kWh”
 
//3 decimals and unit from dataset field “Unit”
=”0.000 “ + Fields!Unit.Value

This works fine for many reports, but not when the unit contains special format characters like the dot character or the zero character. Also, the Excel report export rendering engine might have problems with some units applied this way. So what can be done to avoid the problems that could arise? The first thought of most developers is, in that case, the problematic characters need to be escaped. This approach works well for many rendering engines, but not for the Excel rendering engine. The correct way is to declare the unit as a literal string. This can be done by adding quotes before and after the unit. As the quote character itself delimits the string, these characters need to be escaped by additional preceeding quote characters. So the strictly correct way to apply units to numeric output elements in the “Format” property is:

//3 decimals and hardcoded unti “kWh”
=”0.000 “”kWh”””
 
//3 decimals and unit from dataset field “Unit”
=”0.000 “”” + Fields!Unit.Value + “”””

Limitations of dynamic property values

In the development of zenon Analyzer and Report Viewer, we discovered that some of the background gradient types do not work correctly when they are set as a dynamic value (e.g. via report code functions). The background gradient types that are affected are “Horizontal center” and “Diagonal right”. When the value is set via the dropdown for the property in Report Builder, all values work correctly.

From acquisition to reporting – the data flow for dynamic reporting with zenon, as used in ISO 50001 energy management (part 3: Reporting)

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Now, as all relevant historical data is consistently stored in respective data archives, we are prepared to enter the next stage, namely to exploit the information in the context of general and specific trends. Means to comprehensively access (centrally or distributed) information sources is, once more, key. Moreover, the required values have to be selected, matched and interrelated in order to generate meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is where zenon Analyzer comes into play. Its seamless integration into the overall data flow of a zenon application builds the foundation of a meaningful and reliable reporting system at the transition point between production and corporate management level.

What does this look like in practice?

In applications like ISO 50001 energy management it is beneficial to collect consumption related data centrally, e.g. on a dedicated resource consumption server. However, in order to relate energy consumption with general productivity figures (e.g. OEE), it is typically also necessary to relate series of measurements and key figures from separate sources. For example, the ISO 50001 standard recommends the determination of so called Energy Performance Indicators (EnPI). Examples range from the simple caluculation of “consumed electricity per shift and/or equipment unit” to more demanding calculations, such as “electricity costs for the provision of air pressure, related to each produced unit”.

A system for a high-performance and reliable determination of EnPIs facilitates internal and external performance reviews and benchmarking.

zenon Analyzer offers comprehensive functionalities to generate, visualize and deliver reports. In the context of a zenon application, a variety of report templates can be directly applied. This means that specific attributes of variables, such as related equipments, shifts or administrative units like cost centers, can be used directly for filtering and statistical evaluations. A data-access architecture based on abstracted connectors allows access to both realtime SCADA data as well as historical values and database archives. Mechanisms of report synthesis are largely based on the Microsoft Reporting Services technology, including web-based configuration and user interfaces. Stored procedures and user-defined functions are integrated into the data preparation processes in order to allow for high-performance reporting cycles.

Quite naturally, reports can be automatically generated, e.g. depending on a fixed schedule, in the case of specific events or when particular values are exceeded. Respective actions simply have to be configured, so that a user can find the according document (PDF, Excel etc.) in the defined folder or document archive.

The ability to integrate information from various data sources into a consistent and clearly arranged data flow is fundamental with respect to advanced energy data management.

In all stages, flexibility is required to integrate various sources of information and to preserve sufficient space for new ideas and approaches. This seems to be crucial for companies to be able to retain the technical and analytical capabilities to support their business and, ultimately, to maintain their competitive position.

From acquisition to reporting – the data flow for dynamic reporting with zenon, as used in ISO 50001 energy management (part 2: Data Archiving)

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In the preceeding part we discussed the possibilities for data acquisition with zenon. Now let´s assume that the desired variables are available in the zenon Runtime context. A number of data processing, visualization and control features can be utilized in the context of ISO 50001 energy management. For example, variable values can be pre-processed and limited, automatically scaled or monitored. Respective violations and inconsistencies are captured and – if desired – trigger specific reactions, such as control interventions, warnings or alarm messages.

One particularly important task with respect to ISO 50001 energy management and the related reporting is data archiving.

ISO 50001 Overview

Organize and retain your data

In zenon, data archives can be composed freely from any number of type-independent variables (i.e. binary, numerical, string). Values can be stored on change, cyclically or on event. System functions to activate and deactivate logging allow further customization of the archiving system; for instance, to use it in batch-oriented production environments.

Another important feature is the flexible creation of archive structures. Hence, in zenon, data from central archives can be automatically transferred to other archives. This facilitates data aggregation from archives with high frequency granularity into summary or trend archives.

Archive Cascading Example

The archiving mechanisms of zenon are transparently integrated into the overall data flow of an application. Thus, archive data – no matter if it is kept locally in files, on hard-disk or remotely on an SQL server – remains accessible for zenon´s functional modules, e.g. trend visualization or event parsing. Moreover, the archiving features fully comply with zenon´s redundancy standards and are protected against data consistency issues or unauthorized access. Exporting data into open formats such as XML, CSV or dBase is possible for any archive.

Exploit your data

zenon Analyzer is able to access these archives directly and to generate reports from the historic data, utilizing various filtering and data aggregation features. In the next post we will explore this in more detail.

From acquisition to reporting – the data flow for dynamic reporting with zenon, as used in ISO 50001 energy management (Part 1: Data Acquisition)

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

What is it all about?

A variety of performance improvement initiatives in the field of industrial production use zenon´s cutting edge technology to manage respective data volumes. For ISO 50001 energy management, this specifically relates to the monitoring and evaluation of corporate energy consumption.

This article will give you an insight into how data handling mechanisms are arranged by zenon in order to generate a consistent data flow, starting with data acquisition, followed by data archiving and reporting.

Generic Data Acquisition

The industrial IT and automation environment comprises a large amount of entities to monitor and control specific equipment, such as machine, process or building automation equipment, as well as business related systems (ERP, CAQ etc.). Data interfaces can range from well-defined and standardized (i.e. branch related) to proprietary communication mechanisms.

The ability of zenon to hook up to those entities is based on four pillars:

  • Direct out-of-the-box support of a large variety of communication standards and protocols
    More than 300 communication protocols can be utilized right away with zenon, with minimum development effort. All 300 are well integrated and tested. If a 3rd party product supports the generation of configuration data, i.e. variable list export, zenon can import this data accordingly to reduce implementation time and potential mistakes.
  • Flexible network technology
    Application design using zenon allows the use of powerful network design features, such as multi-server/multi-client or redundancy. Moreover, the system can be altered at any point in time, without indepth networking know-how. Hence, it can be easily modeled, according the best fit with regard to the coverage and the logical arrangement of information sources on all levels.

If the integrated communication features of zenon are insufficient, one has the option to use predefined programming interfaces in order to realize specific data links. This will require some programming.

  • Integrated scripting module (API)
    Script modules can be embedded as an integrated part of a zenon project. These establish a link between the zenon Runtime application and the “external world”. By means of VBA, .NET or C# scripting the developer can, using a COM interface, create a customized bridge between zenon Runtime and external components (e.g. SQL database).
  • Modular integration of communication drivers (“driver kit”)
    The integration of communication protocols, as described above, is based on a well-defined interface which connects a communication driver module (Windows .exe or dll) with the central communication management module of zenon (Dispatcher). This interface is open to use for a modular implementation of any further communication standard.

Preserve your flexibility

Typically, there are multiple sources of data within the industrial environment which need to be accessed. It is important for the practitioner to consider the limits of any system before specification, in order to ensure the system deployed can support possible future extensions to the system as well as current requirements.

In the next part we will have a look into the task of data-archiving, typical requirements and how zenon manages this.