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Businesses must consistently innovate to enhance and streamline their operations to remain competitive. This innovation should be data-driven, using information from existing processes and machinery. However, pinpointing areas for improvement can be difficult when relevant data is spread across incompatible systems and is stored in multiple formats.

At Oleson, we specialise in the design, deployment, and ongoing support of IT & OT (Operational Technology) systems in manufacturing and the gathering, analysing, and harnessing of the data generated by equipment and IT & OT control systems for business improvement.

We are a leading supplier of automation engineers who specialise in developing robust and scalable automation architectures tailored to each organisation’s specific requirements. Our expert team can augment existing production automation capabilities with new solutions to help modernise manufacturing processes and workflows. Whether it’s PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) programming, HMI (Human Machine Interface) design, network configuration, or control system optimisation, the Oleson team has you covered for improvements and ongoing predictive maintenance monitoring.

We have expertise with advanced analytic models and using them to solve today’s ever-increasing business challenges. Our Pi historian experience allows us to use various tools to bring strategic advancements to your business. Whether you want to look at increasing production yields, reducing energy consumption, or solving a point solution that your digitisation team has highlighted, we can help.

Overview of a Typical Data System

In the traditional method, there were manual processes of data in every organization. That was solely dependent on providers. Hence it was time-consuming, labour intensive, poor quality data, and not dynamic. Hence, there was always a challenge to analyse the entire set of data and make the right decision for the business. However, after introducing PI (Plant Information), the new process is fully automatic with higher-quality data. Hence, saves time. Then the business views the final data in a report in power bi/Tableau/Tibco Spotfire and other BI tools in their own mobile, pager, computer, and other smart devices they are interested in on a daily basis. This application can efficiently record data from process control systems (ex. Scada, DCS, PLC) into a compressed time series database. PI system is heavily used in various industries, such as Food & Beverage, Oil & gas, Pharma & Life Sciences, Power Generation, Mining, metals & materials, Facilities & Infrastructure, Chemicals, Water, Transportation, and Transmission & Distribution.

Typical Architecture of a PI System​

OSI PI has been in use and evolving for over four decades and delivers a premier operations infrastructure solution. Its features include:

  • It collects the data from multiple sources (Database (Oracle/SQL), process control systems (Scada, DCS, PLC etc.), and other 3rd party systems via many default interfaces. It then defines context for the data – Equipment, Process Calculations/Analytics – layers of analytics – simple/advanced in the tool (AF – Asset Framework).
  • It visualizes all the events, notify and take immediate action as and when needed.
  • PI system data is also being consumed by other systems like SAP (to create a work order in ‘Asset management System’ via SAP HANA database), ArcGIS system to visualize data in graphical mode (scatter plot), and other business intelligence systems (Azure data lake, oracle/sql server flat files, Hadoop system and so for data scientists to prepare prediction models.

The main components of the PI system:

  1. PI interface Node (The interfaces are defined to extract the available data from the data source(s))
  2. PI Data Archive Server (heart of the PI system, where all the source data (snapshot and archive) extracted via interface resides on this server.
  3. PI AF (Asset Framework) acts as a repository database of all PI Points and assets.
  4. PI Vision server is a thin client visualization tool to display all the tags and AF assets in graphical mode.

Thus, two services can be proposed:

  1. performance monitoring for each asset at the site (Enhancing plant efficiency, minimizing forced outage, and optimising maintenance plan)
  2. Early fault detection (anticipate the potential equipment faults)

It also performs condition-based maintenance (CBM), predictive/reactive maintenance and estimates remaining usage of life (RUL) of the assets. In older days, every customer schedule a call periodically with 3rd party service engineers for maintenance, which implies the customer spends money unnecessarily even though all the assets are in good conditions and/or there may be some which have never been used on day-to-day operation. In order to avoid that situation to save money, PI system checks the condition of assets periodically and computes the circumstances by using the inputs, such as installation date, efficiency and run hours per day. Then it calculates how much percentage the asset has been used thus far and how many extra days it can run without having any issue, or the asset has already been damaged and it needs to be replaced or repaired immediately. It notifies the owner appropriately and create a ticket for the service engineer for any kind of maintenance needed for individual assets. A report is generated subsequently for the management to view.

With the OSI PI System, businesses can transition from complexity to simplicity, and from asset and process intelligence to operational intelligence. The solution is scalable and uses an open data infrastructure that enables real-time decision-making, changing operational data into actionable insights for business transformation.

OSI PI enables organisations to gain operational intelligence from their data via a four-stage process.

  1. Capture – PI system bridges the OT and IT gap. It captures real-time sensor-based events at different time periods from the control systems via defined interfaces on the Pi server. It stores those frequency data on the PI archive server.
  2. Search & Analyse – Upon collection of data from multiple data sources, in Asset Framework (AF) tool PI engineers create calculations and save the output calculation into a PI tag. At the same time an event frame can also be generated if there is an unexpected activity spotted for the asset and a notification will be sent via email or mobile to the technician or end-user for immediate attention in order to avoid production loss at any given time.
  3. Visualise – To present the real-time data in a graphical mode, PI vision tool is used extensively to plot graphs in a different fashion (Trends, XY plot, Table and so on). The same data can also be exhibited in Excel, and BI tools (PowerBI, Tableau, Tibco Spotfire) by the management during business and outside business hours.
  4. Share – The pi system can be shared with external vendors, customers, and other 3rd party companies by means of outbound interface(s) to another application like SAP, Azure data lake, Oracle, Hadoop, and to many other systems via PI Integrators. The data is being consumed for triggering a work order by 3rd party system (s) if needed to work at the site in person and also it harnesses preparing the prediction models by data scientists.

Gain Operational Intelligence

PI system provides production and economic benefits in a great deal. This process is ongoing and continually reveals opportunities such as:

  • Optimising processes
  • Elevating quality
  • Increasing asset health and uptime
  • Improving energy efficiency
  • Managing risk and regulatory compliance
  • Advancing safety performance
  • Early warning of a bad equipment condition
  • Plant performance improvement
  • Maintenance cost reduction

You can read more about how the OSI PI System works from a technical perspective via the https://resources.osisoft.com/pi-system/ website.

Selected Case Studies of the OSI PI System in Action

OSIsoft’s PI System has helped multiple organisations to reduce costs, increase production capacity, extend equipment life, meet environmental targets, and generate new revenue streams. These success stories demonstrate the power of having timely and accurate data accessible to the right individuals, leading to innovation and value creation. To see how industry leaders in sectors like oil & gas, power, mining, manufacturing, and others are utilising the OSI PI System to revolutionise their operations, visit our collection of customer stories.

Here are a few abridged OSI PI System case stories and some customer testimonials. Many more are available on the website linked above.

Customer Stories

UC Davis – Carbon Neutral By 2025: UC Davis Taps into the Transformative Power of Data.

The University of California set an ambitious target for UC Davis in 2013 – to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the campus’s building and vehicle fleet by 2025. Being the first major university to pledge carbon neutrality, UC Davis had to clear a high bar, given its vast campus comprising over 1,000 buildings and a total of 11.3 million square feet. The university took initial steps towards carbon neutrality by retrofitting large plants and buildings to operate more efficiently. However, to identify further opportunities for resource optimisation, UC Davis turned to the OSI PI System for data-driven solutions after exhausting the obvious projects.

“Getting to our 2025 goal, we need to go deeper, and that increasingly requires things like user engagement, campus engagement, optimisation, and really in the last five years, the use of real-time data,” said David Trombly, engineering supervisor at UC Davis. “PI has really expanded and become increasingly integral to our operations and goals.”

Australian Gas Light (AGL) – The Value of Data Across the Enterprise.

AGL, the oldest and largest power producer in Australia, has experienced significant growth over the years, going from 300 MW in 2005 to 10,000 MW in 2017, with an increased focus on incorporating renewable energy sources like wind and solar. However, during their expansion in 2012, the company faced the challenge of being “data blind,” as they had to rely on printouts and prepared reports in the event of an issue, instead of real-time data. They recognised the need for a more efficient data collection system that would enable access to information by any employee across their assets.

In 2012, AGL signed a deal with OSIsoft and set up an Operational Diagnostics Centre to analyse data from their PI System deployment. Additionally, AGL gave their employees access to PI Vision, an efficient dashboarding tool that helped them visualise data. Thanks to this, one engineer was able to compare the performance of various solar assets, while another user monitored generator temperatures. Even non-technical employees were able to create condition-based monitoring systems for hydro dams located 700 kilometres away.

Between 2015 and 2017, AGL successfully saved AUD$ 18.7 million (€11.3 million). Additionally, they detected an anomaly in a hydrogen station that could have resulted in a disastrous fire causing a shutdown of 12-14 weeks and incurring a repair cost of over AUD $50 million (€30 million). Presently, AGL is exploring new horizons by piloting a wind yield optimisation system and thermal performance optimisation system as part of their continued PI Systems backed transformation.


“OSIsoft is considered core to running our refinery…The PI System is the go-to place if you want information about how the plant is operating.”

  1. E. , Director of Systems Engineering, P.E. , Ergon Refining, Inc.

“IT Monitor saved us $30,000 in the first month by accurately pinpointing a network bottleneck”.

D.R. , Westar Energy, Inc.

“The PI System has become such an important part of our business; I can’t imagine operating our manufacturing facility without it. ”

J.C. , Vice President , Appleton Coated, LLC

Conclusion ​

There are significant operational and financial benefits to be gained from the efficient gathering, analysis, and presentation of data from manufacturing and other infrastructure operations. The OSI PI System is ideal for delivering all three stages of this business process, and deploying it can boost productivity and profitability. Oleson engineers can work with your team to design and deploy an OSI PI System deployment that can adapt as your needs change. To get help with short-term projects or long-term partnerships, Oleson is here to help.

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