What is Data Historian?
A data historian, or simply a historian, is a type of database that’s designed to collect and store time-series data from various sources around a process plant. It automatically logs process and production data and compresses it for more efficient storage.
Data historians were developed about 30 years ago for certain industries, particularly process manufacturing sectors like pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, chemicals, and paper and pulp.
They provide secure storage and faster retrieval for process plant data, however, you need specialist skills to access the full potential of the information locked inside them.
Why is a Historian Important for Process Manufacturing Plants?
Process plants are incredibly busy places, with numerous processes, systems, and items of equipment operating together. Plant engineers need accurate metrics about a number of parameters for every part of the plant so that they can check for inefficiencies, perform root cause analysis, and plan maintenance scheduling.
A data historian automates the collection of time-series data from the numerous sensors all over the plant, so that plant engineers can draw on it when needed. Data from a historian can be used for data visualization, to generate reports, or for advanced analytics tools that produce predictive monitoring insights, predictive maintenance alerts, track fluctuating market conditions, and guide business decision-making.
How Can Process Plants Implement a Historian Most Effectively?
Choose the right data historian software
An effective data historian needs to be easy to use, compatible with your existing IT infrastructure, and able to support the amount of data your plant produces. Smaller plants tend to choose SQL-based data historians, while larger ones prefer NoSQL ones.
Develop an integrated data system
Data historians gather the data, but that data is only valuable if you have a way to extract insights and apply them to your processes. You need the right advanced analytics platforms that use machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), or other artificial intelligence (AI) processes to crunch the datasets and produce actionable predictions and insights that guide your decision-making.
Ensure you have the right competencies
Alongside the right tools, you also need employees with the right skills to retrieve data from the historian, preprocess it, select the right advanced analytics tools to generate useful predictions from the mass of data, and convert the predictions into the correct action.
Open up access to data insights
Ensure your data insights are accessible to all your stakeholders. Finance officers, process engineers, maintenance officers, and chief executives can all benefit from the data-driven predictions generated with the help of a data historian.
How Do Process Plants Benefit from a Historian?
Data historians streamline the process of gathering and storing data from across a plant. Together with advanced analytics tools, process manufacturing companies can use data historians to gain visibility into every aspect of the plant in order to increase agility, boost efficiency, and improve profitability in a competitive market.