Saturday, May 20, 2017

DeltaV Virtual Studio Version 3.3 - New Features

DeltaV Virtual Studio 3.3 has recently been released and I thought I’d brag about some of the new usability features that are included.

First off, DVS 3.3 is based on Microsoft Server 2016 and takes advantage of some of improvements in Hyper-V.  The first thing you’ll notice after you fire up DVS is the updated user interface:

In addition to showing the last operation executed on a VM, we include what’s currently happening along with a progress bar so you’ll know things are moving along.  We’ve also enhanced the information displayed in the lower right-hand corner for things like the hosts and VM’s.

We’ve enhanced the VM creation experience by allowing more adjustments during the initial setup.  In the previous version of DVS, you had to spin up a VM, then power it down to change things like allocated RAM and disk size.  In the 3.3 version, extra tabs have been added to the VM creation dialog box, allowing modifications to memory, processors, disk space and the enabling of Replication – during the initial creation:

When enabling Replication, the number of restores can now be adjusted, which previously required you to go into Hyper-V.  Increasing the number of restore points provides additional protection in case of machine corruption.  When changing the restore point number, DVS displays the additional hard drive space in the storage array that will be consumed.  For performance adjustments, the replication frequency can be slowed down – this might be acceptable for non-persistent nodes like operator stations.

Another powerful, timesaving feature is the VM Builder selection:

With the VM Builder tool, you can create multiple VM’s at the same time.  Like the VM Creation dialog, you select the DevData.cfg from your ProPlus that contains all the workstations and servers from your configuration:

A series of dialogs guide you through the setup of any or all the configured workstations and servers:

When you click the final Finish button, DVS will go out and spin up all the selected VMs – time for a couple of cups of coffee or even lunch.

DVS 3.3 is available at no charge to existing DVS 2.3.1 customers with Guardian Support and can be downloaded from the Guardian website.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Easy Formula Management

One of the features in DeltaV version 13 is an easier way to manage recipe formulas.  When there are dozens of formulas with hundreds of parameters for a given recipe, viewing and editing the values wasn't all that easy prior to V13.  We now have the ability to copy, edit and paste formula values with Excel.

First, let’s take a look at a recipe I have in my demo system appropriately named DEMO_WITH_TRAINS along with its 4 configured formulas:

I can right-click on the recipe and select Edit Formulas:

The interface in DeltaV Explorer looks like this:

From here, I can change any of the values just by typing into the fields (remember the values contained within the <> are default formula values).  But instead of 10 parameters and only 4 formulas, I could have a lot more, making this a less than ideal interface.

So now with V13, I can select everything and copy it, including parameter names and descriptions to the clipboard:

Open up Excel and paste the data in (I added the green highlight):

You can make any required changes to any of the formula values.  What you can’t do is add a recipe parameter (that’s pretty straight forward, right?) or add a new formula (maybe not so obvious – I’ll come back to that in a minute).  You could create a master formula Excel file and use a different worksheet for each recipe.

When you’re ready to bring the changes back into DeltaV, highlight the data cells (some or all of the green highlighted data), hit CTRL-C, then go back to the formula dialog in DeltaV Explorer, select the EXACT same size range of cells, right click and select Paste (or CTRL-V).  If you don’t make the destination range the exact same size as the source range, you’ll get this type of error message:

If you need to add a new formula, right click on the recipe object and select New Formula:

Fill in the new formula dialog box as necessary:

Now editing the formula values will include your new formula:

There is one final step you have to do in order for the new formula to show up in DeltaV Operate – back in the DeltaV Explorer view, right click on the new formula and select Properties:

You need to check the “Operator can load” box which will then cause a Yes to appear in the “Release to production” column in the Explorer view.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Not To Alarm You, But Here's How to Generate An Audit Report

Alarm Management is a big focus of DeltaV version 13, helping our customers become compliant with ISA 18.2, which provides a roadmap for compliance across all stages of alarms, from identification to implementation and management of change.

One of the tools we’ve included in V13 is an Alarm Audit Reporting tool, allowing you to compare alarms as they are currently set online in the controllers to how those alarms are configured in the DeltaV database.

Accessing the tool first requires you to launch the System Alarm Management application from the DeltaV Explorer toolbar:

I’ll have to come back to the System Alarm Management application in a future post.  For now, once the app appears, click on the left most toolbar button or File, then Manage Alarm Reports…

The Alarm Reports interface looks like this:

So let’s create a differences report for the entire system – click on the green + button.  I’ll give the report a name, accept the default location and select Difference Report before I hit OK:

The next dialog box allows you to select the types of alarms to include and some filtering.  I’ll pick only Enabled Alarms, Process Alarms and All Functional Classifications:

The next dialog is where you get to add specific locations to the report.  You can specify areas, nodes, logic solvers, units, or even specific modules.  The All check box allows you to pick all of any of the above categories (except modules).  Since this is a system-wide differences report, I’ll check the All box for Areas:

Finally, you’ll get to the Schedule Task dialog – you’ll see it’s not yet scheduled, but using the drop down under Schedule Task, you can select the desired frequency – Once, Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.  Now you don’t have to schedule a report – you can leave it as Not Scheduled and you’ll be able to run it on demand from the Manage Alarm Reports view.  For this example, I’m going to leave the report as Not Scheduled:

Now here’s an important safety tip – if you hit cancel on any of these dialog boxes, it’s going to take you all the way back to the Manage Alarm Reports view L - just be careful. 

After hitting OK from above, your report will show up in the first row of the Manage Alarm Reports view.  I’ll go ahead and select it to show you how the other toolbar buttons highlight.  You can also get some of the choices by right clicking on the report:

Select Run from the menu, and wait until the Last Result column shows Completed:

Now use the View report button on the toolbar or the right click selection to see the results:

So out of 84 process alarms, I’ve got one difference between the controller and the database – my high alarm on LIC101 is configured for 90, but the online value is 95.

Both an XML and HTM file are generated when you run a report, so it’s highly portable.  And you don’t have to be inside the Alarm Report application to generate reports.  There’s a command line executable in the DeltaV/bin directory named SAMAlarmReports.exe – there’s a full explanation of how to use the executable in the help file associated with Alarm reports.

So a great use example would be to automatically generate a differences report as part of your plant’s shift turnover procedure – using, of course, DeltaV Logbooks.  Another use would be to generate a runtime report for a specific unit or units at the beginning or end of a batch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Restore Point Modification With DVS 2.3.1

One of the cool features in DeltaV Virtual Studio (DVS) is the ability to provide disaster recovery capabilities using Virtual Machine (VM) Replication.  VM Replication creates and constantly updates a replica image of a running virtual machine in a separate cluster or replication server.

By locating the two clusters in different locations, a disaster in one location can be mitigated by starting up the replica image in the second location.

Now in addition to disaster recovery, virtual machine corruption can also be addressed with replication.  By default, VM Replication within DVS provides two restore points, allowing recovery from an image that is up to two hours old.  Here’s the procedure to increase the number of recovery points and select the required recovery point if a corruption occurs.

A couple of important points before I go on – increasing the number of recovery points increases the disk space requirements for the replica image.  Also, adjusting the number of recovery points has to be done in Hyper-V, not DVS.  In next year’s release of DVS, version 3.3, you’ll be able to modify the number of restore points from directly within DVS.

From the DeltaV Virtual Studio domain controller desktop, access the Hyper-V manager:

While the recovery points are associated with a replica image, managing the recovery points is done from the primary virtual machine.  You can see how many recovery points (snapshots) are available by selecting the replication location and the replica virtual machine.  Be sure to select the Replication tab at the bottom of the dialog box:

To change the number of recovery points, select the host and then the primary virtual machine that requires recovery point modification, then right click on the virtual machine and select Settings…

On the Settings dialog box, scroll down the left hand pane, click to expand the Replication section, then select Recovery Points:

The Recovery Points screen will show the current number of recovery points and the estimated storage requirement.  Either by using the up and down arrows or by simple typing in the field, change the number of recovery points.  The estimated hard drive space will change:

Once you click OK, Hyper-V will begin keeping more restore points, once an hour, until the newly entered number is achieved.  Checking the replica again will show all the configured snapshots:

If a corruption is ever detected in a primary virtual machine, use the Hyper-V manager to start the replica image and pick a recovery point.  DO NOT USE DeltaV Virtual Studio to start the replica – this will automatically use the most recent snapshot and will discard all the other snapshots.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Using Fault Detection to Help Increase Process Understanding

We released our Batch Analytics (BA) application with version 12 of DeltaV and provided some additional enhancements as part of version 13.  BA uses Multivariate Analysis and Dynamic Time Warping to detect process faults, the reasons for those faults, and predicts endpoint quality, all in real time.  So instead of having to wait until the batch completes to find out there was a problem, fault and quality issues can be examined while the batch is still running.  This allows operations and engineering personnel to make better decisions that could correct a quality issue, dump a bad batch early, or schedule maintenance for when a unit is not in use.

Another important benefit is the education of inexperienced personnel to gain process understanding.  One of the features of the fault detection screen within BA is to prioritize parameters that are contributing to a fault:

The small green band at the bottom of the screen is the normalized range of the two fault parameters, T2 and Q.  A fault in this range (0 to 1) is statistically insignificant.  The larger the fault peak (the large blue T2 peak is around 55), the more statistically significant the fault is.  By selecting the user-friendly parameter names on the left, response plots of actual versus modeled are displayed:

The black lines above are the actual parameter response, while the dashed and dotted blue lines are the expected, modeled response.  For instance, you can see that M1 Level didn’t increase as much as the model thought it should have and the Salt Bin Level didn’t drop as much as the model predicted it should have.

But you don’t have to have a fault to monitor actual versus modeled trajectories.  Here’s a fault detection screen from a normal batch:

You’ll notice that while some of the peaks exceed the normalized 0 to 1 range, the largest fault is less than 2.5, compared to the 55 on the previous example.  My point is you can still see the parameters on the left hand side and can plot out their actual versus modeled response:

Notice that the mixer and salt bin levels followed the predicted, modeled response.  This can provide a great tool for training operations personnel to understand what “normal” is to be better prepared for process upsets and faults.

Monday, July 6, 2015

DeltaV Alarm Mosaic

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but we’re right around the corner from releasing version 13 of DeltaV and I wanted to let you know about a really cool new feature – DeltaV Alarm Mosaic.

Alarm Mosaic is part of our focus on Alarm Management and helps our customers become 100% compliant with ISA 18.2, the Alarm Management standard.

Alarm Mosaic is a new way of looking at active alarms and aid in the analysis of an alarm flood.  Instead of presenting a tabular view of active alarms, Mosaic presents the alarms on a more intuitive timeline:

Each column is an adjustable time slice – from 1 second to 4 hours.  Within each column, the alarms are stacked with the most recent on the bottom.  Different visual indicators let you know which alarms are active acknowledged, active unacknowledged, and inactive unacknowledged.  From within Mosaic, you can acknowledge alarms, call up faceplates and detail displays within DeltaV Operate, and even launch Alarm Help.

To help in root cause analysis, operator actions are overlaid with the alarms.  In addition, the Alarm Characteristics panel allows the user to highlight alarms using 7 different properties including classification, area, even which displays the alarms are contained on.

A really neat feature is the History Activation view.  Once an alarm flood has been successfully dealt with, the Mosaic view won’t show any alarms.  By switching over to the History Activation view, the alarm flood along with operator actions can be viewed from data stored in the Event Chronicle, providing a great tool to use at shift turnover meetings and as a general teaching aid.

Check out all of the Alarm Management tools on the DeltaV website.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up”

So here’s a shameless plug for a great YouTube video that’s about to go viral.

For use with our Electronic Marshalling, we’ve released the CHARM Diagnostic App for the iPhone for interpreting and diagnosing the LED lights on CIOC Characterization Modules.  Using either the built in camera or manual detection, the color and blink rate of the CHARM’s LED is translated into useful diagnostic information.

In addition, wiring schematics for all 21 available CHARM types can be called up to ensure proper wiring and aid in troubleshooting.

We spared no expense in getting some top Hollywood talent to promote this new app – you can check out the video here.

Oscar balloting will start after the first of the year, but we're hoping to take home a “Duncan”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get More Descriptive with your Alarms in DeltaV v12

Sometimes it’s easier to get your point across with less; other times you wish you had more time or room to explain yourself.  Submitting an abstract for Emerson Exchange is like that – you end up having to be creative to get your point across in the limited number of characters you’re allotted.

One place you hate to be limited is in your alarms.  The more information you can provide your operators, the better they’ll be able to respond.  Back in version 11 of DeltaV, we added Alarm Help functionality, to capture and display detailed information about an alarm, what to do when the alarm comes in, and what might happen if no action is taken.

And while you can get this detailed information for any individual alarm, it would be nice if there was more information available when you look at the Alarm Banner, the Alarm Summary display, or Process History View.

So in version 12 of DeltaV, we’ve added a new feature called Alarm Descriptions.  You’ll find the Alarm Description field on the Advanced tab when configuring an alarm in a control or SIS module:

When you configure an Alarm Description, the text you enter gets concatenated with the module description for use in the Alarm Banner:

Alarm Banner without a configured Alarm Description
Alarm Banner with a configured Alarm Description 

In the Alarm List screen, the Description field will contain the module description or the new Alarm Description, if one exists:

Alarm List without a configured Alarm Description


Typically a control module would contain process information associated with a single process signal or control loop.  In this case, using DeltaV Alarm Types can provide an acceptable level of detail associated with an alarm.  While this may be adequate for single analog control or monitor type control modules, additional descriptive information for discrete types of alarms and SIS SIF modules are necessary.

The description shown in the alarm banner and alarm list is associated with the module itself, not the process variables used within the module.  Because this information can be critical for the operator to troubleshoot an interlock or safety trip, engineering workarounds have been developed.  These include adding additional Alarms Types or new, separate modules to the system whose sole purpose is to provide more descriptive information to the operator when one of these events occurs.

Alarm Descriptions remove the need to create these extra components and all the work associated with them while providing the operator with the additional information he needs.  Now if I could just get additional information into my abstract submission…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DeltaV Version 12 Fun Facts and Features – Part 4

We’ve given a helping hand to Books On Line in Version 12.  Never fear, you’ll still be able to launch BOL right from the task bar in DeltaV Explorer, just like you always have.

The first change you’ll notice is when you right click on something like a function block.  Prior to v12, you’d see a menu like this one with one of the choices being What’s this?

In v12, we’ve replace the words “What’s this?” with “Help”.  Not a big deal at all, and rest assured Help and What’s this? are going to get you to all the information you need. 

Prior to v12, What’s this? used to bring up these mini help dialogs:

What’s we’ve done in v12 is to combine the mini help dialogs into BOL as the first page of a larger section:

We’re using the same compiled HTML code to convert the mini helps into the rest of Books On Line, centralizing all the help information within DeltaV.  Access to the more detailed information is easily available from the links at the bottom of the topic overview.

One other change is the location of the compiled HTML files – they’re no longer in a BOL folder on the C:\DeltaV drive of your DeltaV machine.  They’re located in a Hlp folder in the same location.  You can still copy this folder off and drop it onto your laptop’s hard drive for easy access to Books On Line wherever you are.

There’s a chance that after you copy BOL over to your PC, you might get a screen that looks like this when you double click on the masterbol.chm file:

If so, take a look at the properties of the masterbo.chm file:

Go ahead and click on the “Unblock” button and things should work just fine.  Also, you’ll most likely have to put the BOL folder on your local PC, since you won’t be able to launch compiled HTML files over a network share.  Thanks to Scott Thompson at RE Mason for these .chm tips.