Pushing the Boundaries of Data Visualization

Real Use Cases of the Ignition Perspective Module

58 min video  /  46 minute read View slides


Kevin McClusky

Co-Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Michael Crawford​

Vice President ‑ Operations

NLS Engineering

Alex Marcy, P.E.


Corso Systems

Peter J. Photos

EVP Engineering - Chief Scientist

Streamline Innovations

The data revolution promised that data would be available anywhere at any time, and now that promise is starting to be fulfilled. Recently, some truly remarkable industrial projects have demonstrated new possibilities for data visualization and system architectures. These projects all leverage the Ignition Perspective Module, which makes it easier than ever to design mobile-responsive applications and get more data to more people. 

In this upcoming webinar, see the solutions that innovative professionals in a variety of industries are building with the Ignition industrial application platform, the Ignition Perspective Module, and other modern technologies. Find out what’s possible today for organizations like yours!

  • See how virtual reality and 3D imaging can be integrated with control systems
  • Find out how monitoring systems can have greater speed, depth, and versatility
  • Learn how it’s possible to affordably build intelligent systems with full bidirectional control
  • Discover simple-to-use tools for building mobile industrial applications in HTML5
  • See examples of adding Ignition Perspective to Vision projects
  • And more!



Kevin: Quick introduction to the Ignition platform itself. Just have a couple of slides on this and then we'll get to a little bit of the meat and potatoes and showing you some really cool projects here. But just in case you don't have much background on Ignition. So we should explain a little bit about what the Perspective module is. So as I said, Ignition is a modular platform. If you take a look at Ignition's software stack, there's an OS layer with compatibility for Windows, Linux, and Mac. There's a platform layer, that contains a lot of the core functionality, like the module API, web server configuration, database, JDBC, SQL, redundancy, scripting, designer, tag database, alarm core, OPC UA, client, Store-and-Forward, logging and auditing, authentication. And then on top of that, there are the core modules that you plug in to get specific functionality, which you can configure in the designer and ultimately use to create applications that fit your unique processes.

Kevin: I kind of like to think of this as a cell phone almost where you're installing apps on that cell phone, you install these modules into the Ignition platform, and then they increase the toolset that you have inside the Ignition platform itself. The modules really give you practically limitless ways to extend your Ignition installations. And if you take a look specifically at the visualization modules, there are two of them for Ignition. The Ignition vision module and the Perspective module. The Vision Module was released in 2010, and it was updated recently with the release of Ignition 8. Vision's ideal for dedicated plant for displays and HMIs. The Perspective module was released earlier this year along with a new version of the platform, Ignition 8.

Kevin: Perspective is ideal for mobile first industrial applications. This webinar is going to focus on the Perspective module, but we wanted to make it clear that Vision and Perspective can and often are used side-by-side. So here's a quick overview of the Perspective features that make it ideal for a mobile first industrial application development. It's mobile responsive, automatically fits the size of your screens, it runs on any device with a web browser, so phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TV screens, any modern web browser works great. It works well with any major operating system. So just like the Ignition platform itself, it works with Windows, macOS, and Linux, but it also works with Android and iOS for your mobile devices. It does let you build mobile applications and it's presented in HTML5, and CSS, so there aren't any special plugins needed for any of the browsers. It makes it easy to visualize, monitor and control systems with features like intuitive touch commands and bi-directional data bindings.

Kevin: It lets you create smart industrial applications using mobile devices, GPS, accelerometer, camera, barcode scanner, touch get gestures and other sensors that are inside. And it also offers many powerful options for easily designing mobile first applications with responsive design. Ignition Edge which is going to be shown in one of these architectures that we're sharing here in a few minutes, is a lightweight limited low-cost Ignition software solution that's designed for embedding into the field and OEM devices. Right at the edge of network. You're going to see it inside an architecture and understand that in this case, it's used for data collection and it can also be used for visualization right at the edge of the network. In the sales engineering team we do work with our customers, and we help them plan and deploy new Ignition projects. And really, we really enjoy what we do. Since the release of Ignition 8 in the Perspective module our jobs have gotten even more fun and over the past year we've seen some pretty incredible projects built by users, integrators, and the Ignition community.

Kevin: As great as all the new features of Perspective are for us, the most exciting thing is seeing what folks do with them. These three projects that we're going to be looking at today, they really showcase that limitless potential and the possibility for that data visualization and system architectures that are beyond what we had possible in the past that Perspective now offers. So, let's jump right in. The first use case that we're going to look at is by Corso Systems. So you heard from Alex already, it's Corso Systems and SCS engineers. They did a landfill project for the county of San Bernardino, in California. Corso and SCS used Ignition 8 and Perspective to deliver new mobile capabilities that give the counties decision-makers, much more data to work with, including the ability to view the site remotely from any device. There were also other major upgrades that were part of this project as well. Alex, I'll turn it over to you to tell us more about the problem you were asked to solve, the solution you built and the results you achieved. Take it away.

Alex: Thanks Kevin. Okay, so this was a landfill gas flare management system for the San Timoteo landfill in San Bernardino County. They have a gas collection system that collects methane from the landfill and routes that to a flare. And that's what SCS engineers designs and operates those systems and they worked with us to do all the Perspective and Ignition development to make this project a success for their customers. This was the pilot project for this system and has since been expanded out to about 30 sites and is being looked at for additional sites beyond that for other landfill customers as this technology becomes a little more prevalent, now the perspective is more widely adopted and mature. And we had started with the beta and started running it on production systems basically as soon as we had something in place and have been continually improving it since then. So the project requirements. They use Google for their email and security, so we had to get the G suite security, integration using the Google identity provider and the capabilities of Perspective.

Alex: The regulatory data for these flare systems, they have it stored in a Google Sheets repository, so we needed to get data from the Perspective clients into Google Sheets. So we built a module that allows us to integrate with the Google Sheets and Google Docs, and Google Forms, APIs, so we're handling all that at the Gateway level. As you can see here on the screenshot on the phone we have a web-based map component that the SES does a drone fly over of the facilities and the drones use a 3D imaging camera to take pictures and 3D map points of the facility and it stitches together a 3D model of the facility that you can wear a Microsoft HoloLens, or a VR helmet and walk around the facility as if you were walking around in a video game in virtual reality. And you can also layer on some augmented reality functionality on to that for process variables and document management. And they also wanted it to be fully mobile responsive so operators can use it on phones, tablets, or browsers on their computer depending on what facility they're at, and what tools they have available.

Alex: Because this is distributed across multiple landfills we also needed map integration which we utilized the built-in map component in Perspective with the flexibility and capability that component gives us. And then a scalable architecture, 'cause we're gonna be running this on many different facilities on a gateway that's in the cloud, on an Amazon Web Services system. So Ignition provided ways to meet all of these requirements, with the Perspective module, so we utilize that for this project. Here is an example of a couple of the screens that we see on a phone format, so we'll see the flare process variables here on the left, so we can start and stop and control the flare view status temperature, air and gas flow rates, pressures, different equipment status, and then some of these fields, we can also edit accordingly for some of the data collection. And then some of them are just status coming from the system...

Alex: We're also looking at blower status here on this screen for four different blowers on the system, and that gives us status total run time, hours and speed command set points and amp readings. Then here on the right is an example of the form that they used for data collection for the facility and this is what gets pushed into the Google Sheets repositories. So the operators will come through and they'll take a snapshot of the data, on a given day or a given week when they need to take readings. They'll note the weather condition, ambient air temperature, barometric pressure, date and time, who took the readings. And then some of these readings we can get out of the process system itself. So out of the PLC, some of these fields, they manually enter, So we built in Perspective, a way to manage all of this information, pull out what we can automatically provide fields for data entry and then when the operator hits save, it publishes this data in this same format here, into a Google Sheets document that then they can use on the regulatory side, and they have access into that system as well for various reporting requirements. And here's an example of the same screens that we saw on the phones, but showing in a browser.

Alex: So, on the phone you would basically scroll through what is essentially these four different columns and this gives you access to all the data that we have in the system, on the browser, it automatically expands to fill the width of the browser so you could view everything on a single screen, and again this is the same control of the flare equipment temperature or pressure, blow rates, we can get into tuning the idea loops, manage all the blowers different process variables and different instruments in analyzation tools that are installed at the facility. And then you'll see here on the left we just have a built-in navigation component, we see, we're dealing with alarms, there are some documents that you can view in the system to look at a P&ID diagram, view the map component and different graphs. Those are more standardized tools like the graphs or just the built-in trend components. We're really taking advantage of the mobile responsiveness to display a lot of data at one time to the operators.

Alex: And this has worked really well. It was really easy to develop all the forms for this and we don't have much to show for the Google module integration, that's more on the back end, and we also on the Corso Systems website, have a good blog post about setting up the G-Suite, integration. If you're using Google for your identity provider we have a good walk through on setting that up. Of course, the system's dot com. And then I'm gonna go into a web browser here. This is built  in the client in Perspective, using the web browser component, we don't have all the VPN access set up on this machine, but we do have a demo online, this is the drone mapping component, and if you see the Fire Brand video, you'll see what this looks like in more detail. It's called pix4dsesrnc.com and this will give you access to a demo of the data that you would see if you had the Perspective client open. And this entire map component is just built into a web browser component in Perspective. So we could zoom in, we can pan around and look at the facility, if you wanna pull up any different angles.

Alex: Or if you have a HoloLens or a virtual reality like an Oculus. But you could put that on and pull this data up and actually physically go walk around this facility in 3D. And it takes pictures of all the equipment and buildings and structures on site and generates a 3D model and then textures the 3D model. So this is the flare here. It's a pretty useful tool and it's a nice way to get different technology into the industrial world and landfills, that are obviously not a very sexy thing to begin with, you can apply some really cool technology to those and come up with a really good product that leverages the capabilities of Ignition and Perspective to really wow the customer and this is essentially becoming a showpiece for Perspective, this technology and everything that Ignition can do. I'll turn it back over to you Kevin.

Kevin: Alright. Excellent. Once again, thank you Alex, I appreciate it. To move to the next demo, all three of these are very exciting projects. NLS has created a standardized customizable system designed to handle the needs of large scale solar and energy projects that are capable of deep data acquisition and manipulation and control. This new system led NLS to create NextDAS, an Ignition-based operations and management platform. So Mike and Morgan, I'll give you the floor to tell us about the problem you had to solve, the solution you built and the results that you achieved. Over to you.

Michael​: So just real quick NLS like you kinda introduced is we specialize in process control, and SCADA for the Energy and Water Sector. So, done many, many projects over seven gigawatts in the energy space to which this is kind of based on. Done a lot of projects all the way from small one megawatt, single, single site installations to 175 site portfolios with millions and millions of tags. The focus project that we're looking at, for this size was a 30 site portfolio for a company called Eco-plexus, they approached NLS and based on the fact that they had a whole pile of sites they develop, they're an IPP, they develop sites they operate the sites and then they sell the sites off at a later date. So with each site, they had a mixed bag of data acquisition providers, they were all sort of different non-standardized it was a real challenge to operate these efficiently logging into all these different web portals and all of that. So we developed a very standardized system for them so that all sites look the same, they feel the same.

Michael: And one of the key benefits of this system to them was the actual data. When a developer is selling a site, the price of the site is often a significant part of the price of the site is based on how the site's performing and you need some deep data in able to do that, to find out how things are performing. So, this typical 15-minute average data just wasn't good enough, they needed one second, sub-one second data to really prove that the site was worthy of the price they're asking. From an operation side, they also operate all of these sites. These existing guys just weren't hacking it. It's a very canned black box fixed system. So they wanted to completely customize it the way they want to better identify operational issues. Ecoplexus, their portfolio, it's grown much bigger since this, but at the time, it was about 30 screens, it's about 166,000 alarms, both 38,000 tags in the history, 105,000 tags total, fanning sites all across the United States, and basically, all comes into one portfolio.

Michael​: We established this core infrastructure based on Amazon Web Services. Long story short, there's a central AWS infrastructure that has the MySQL database which is running on Amazon RDS. They have an Ignition... A vision interface and then they layered on Perspective after that. All of these sites connect to the 30-plus remote sites, everything networked together. It's a real slick infrastructure, works extremely well. They're tremendously happy both with it and we just continuously develop all the rest of their sites, keep adding it to their fleets.

Michael:​ So coming from our utilities space experience, we knew a lot about control, we knew a lot about SCADA, so we wanted to get this down into something that was affordable and really leveraging Ignition allowed us to do that for the commercial industrial space. So that's where the birth of NextDAS happened. So NextDAS is a really highly versatile monitoring system. It's designed for commercial, industrial, solar, wind, battery storage, completely based on Inductive Automation's Ignition platform and specifically Perspective. Operates in the exact same manner as we showed previously there. It can either be a sitting and a stand-alone or a cloud-based, you can operate single sites or fleets of 200 and 300, 500 sites. Extremely versatile, fully customizable, no black boxes, everything is completely off the shelf and just your standard hardware, software. And that's really appealing to folks who are managing and operating these sites. So I'm gonna turn this over to Morgan Allaby, our senior design specialist. He's the mindset behind how things are put together and designed at NLS.

Morgan: Thanks, Mike. So what we were able to do with Perspective is provide a responsive web-based interface for new sites and also a front-end for existing data. It satisfies the customer's need to access their data while they're on site troubleshooting or they're just on the go and it's very easy for them to do. Users, especially investors and institutions where they'll wanna put their dashboards up on a screen for visualization, for community involvement, it's very easy to get them on it. Basically, you just send them the URL, user name and a password, there's no launchers to download or anything like that, any job that they interact with.

Morgan: Because Perspective utilizes the flexbox standard in HTML, it allows us to develop everything once and deploy on anything. So everything gracefully collapses down based on the size of the viewport. So on a full-screen device like a desktop PC or a tablet or a phone, you get the same data, you don't have to redo multiple bindings or have multiple projects. And here, I'll just take a moment to take you through some additional interfaces that we develop for NextDAS, and that have actually been deployed for Ecoplexus.

Morgan: So this is the dashboard, it gives you some key metrics for each site available on these tiles. And this is something that's very important to the customers because with these other closed off-the-shelf systems that they were seeing and being provided with, they're not able to customize anything. So even if they have a dashboard and they have access to information, they can't choose how they display it. It's very much fixed and provided to them as is.

Morgan: Clicking on one of those tiles brings you to the actual site dashboard where you can get some key information like generation, radiance, inverter status, MET stations, alarms. And then clicking on one of those, you can drill down further into the site information inverters.

Morgan: We also developed an ad hoc trans screen, which easily allows the customer to trend and compare different tags, also save those trends that they developed for later recall, which is very convenient for them, especially on a mobile device where they don't necessarily have the screen real estate to recall a whole list of tags and add them in manually. We were also able to give them access to the reports they were accustomed to on their existing system, and it's very much adaptable to mobile because they can pinch and zoom and drag around and see the details of the report on their mobile phone. So that's it for me, I'll hand this back to Mike if he has any final comments.

Michael​: Yeah, thanks very much, Morgan. So Perspective is really kind of launched things forward. It's allowed us to do a lot of new things. It's more conducive versus traditional HMI packages to how people want to consume data today, how they want to consume information. It's very much the evolution and the progression of what it should be, right? And so we just had tremendous success with this. NextDAS took off like wildfire when we developed it about a year ago for all the reasons. And with Ignition and Perspective at its core, it's just been tremendously successful. And we're really thankful to them and to the Perspective platform and we look forward. US energy is only 2% renewable energy in the market, so there's a tremendously large pathway forward for NLS and Inductive Automation.

Kevin: Alright, well great. Thank you, Mike, thank you, Morgan. I know that. I've been talking to you folks over the years and I always love saying the platform it's come a long way and it's very impressive I do say to myself. Now, onto the last one that we have here so this is a project by Streamline Innovation, Streamline used Ignition Perspective, Ignition edge, MQTT and mocks the devices to facilitate the automation of natural gas treating units that convert an extremely hazardous chemical H2S into sulfur grade or fertilizer grade sulfur so you can use it in fields as fertilizer right. So Pete, I'm gonna hand it over to you to tell us more about the problem, tell us more about solution and tell us more about the results that you achieved.

Peter: Thanks, so my story is a little bit again different from everybody else's. We are not just integrators but we are designers, builders, operators and integrators of our own facilities. We convert as Kevin said, to natural gas, inside natural gas is a toxic chemical called hydrogen sulfide, about 40% of all wells contain it and about 40% of all wells contain hydrogen sulfide and we convert that to those little yellow blocks you see there which is yellow sulfur, elemental sulfur which can be used for fertilizer. Our story is also a little bit different in the sense that this is a story of migration from vision to Perspective.

Peter: We started building these units about two years ago and we started using Ignition and vision about a year and a half ago and with tremendous success and I'll talk a little bit about that and now we're moving over to our new units, we have four units in operation right now, we are about to turn the switch on on number five and number six this week today and tomorrow and on those who are moving to Vision. So I'm gonna show a little bit about what we've done in Perspective, sorry. So I'm gonna show a little bit about what we've done in Vision, what we're doing in Perspective and how we're migrating over. The first case I wanna show you is our first unit which is about a year and a half old now and this is the challenge of our process, we took a chemical process that was developed about 40 years ago, 50 years ago and it was never commercially successful because automation was the problem, it needed to be automated exquisitely well.

Peter: We're talking two different chemical reactions that need to be maintained at a very tight band and needs to be done in a remote area that's probably an hour drive from the operator's house. We needed to be up 99% of the time and if things go wrong we needed a notification system and the ability of the system to make corrections in real-time on its own before a human can get there and so the solution we found was with Ignition it was wildly successful, our first design was a traditional PLC with a MOXA edge computing device, this provided a low cost and a really effective communication system, they gave a second by second knowledge of all the data. Initially we went with an Allen Bradley HMI that was our original design.

Peter.: Our new designs are using vision locally for our HMI and then running the data and Ignition edge from that MOXA box through MQTT to a cloud server where we're running originally Vision but now we're running Perspective that allows our users to operate the units completely remotely and we have full bi-directional control from our mobile phones so that now our operators get a notification with Twilio notifications by text, our operators get a notification in the middle of the night, he rolls out of bed, he opens up his phone, he makes some adjustments as needed if he could restarts the unit and goes back to bed so it was an incredibly powerful result, we have full beta access to the entire units, we have three of these units operating right now autonomously and as I said today we're launching number four and Monday we're launching number five, the operators get the text messages and it's great and then on top of that and I've talked about this in the past in order to make some corrections on its own the unit is actually smart enough to run some Python scripts and it has some intelligence to it to be able to auto-correct, self-tune their P&ID loops, predict preventative maintenance requests and actually tweak itself as it goes along.

Peter: So to show you a little bit about what the architecture looks like the units on the left, the little box, that gush neck actually extends not that high but the units on the left we take the data from the PLC and originally we moved it, we put HMI right there, the MOXA box is running the Ignition edge and Python which then sends through MQTT to a server in the cloud and then finally over to our mobile phones where we have full control. This is a really robust solution, we've had no problems with implementing this and now as we move to Perspective it's actually going to be even better and I'll show you some examples of what we're doing. So this is our Vision screens so we see the tiles as we saw earlier shown those are the three units operating now, now that has five tiles, we can go into each one, we can see all the data second by second there's probably about 200 data points that are coming into this app at any given moment but the really cool thing is we also have the story and data for all those 200 variables going back over a year and a half now, all accessible by phone instantaneously and then with the proper authentication as we move to the right you log in and then you can change set points, you can change the methodology by which things are being programmed, you can turn off the intelligence, override the intelligence and even disable some sensors and if certain sensors are not really running perfectly we can change those things out.

Peter: As we move over to perspective, these apps, these are actually quite easy to transition over. And so, a lot of these screens look almost identical with just a little bit more color and background to them, but really, the app look exactly the same. And that was great for our operators because they're very reluctant to switch to a new platform and they got very comfortable using this. They know how to use this. And so, moving from Vision to Perspective was actually quite easy for our operating team because we just added a few more buttons and bells and whistles, and the user experience is almost identical.

Peter: The other unit that I wanted to talk briefly about and as we did the layout between when to use vision and when to use Perspective is in our large plants. So these large plants, this is the size of a football field. We have one of these running right now. We're in the process of starting up the second one in late December and early January. The challenge is slightly different because now, these are manned. There's two people, they're operating the unit, but they need to have real-time updates. They need to know exactly what tweaks to be made from an operational standpoint because any deviation from real optimization is a lot of money. In these small units, a little deviation from optimization, it's a small amount of revenue that's a difference, but for this plant, 1%-2% optimization needs tens of thousands of dollars a day. So there's a strong drive for us to really exquisitely control this unit and optimize it as much as we can see what we can. And then on top of that, we have a 99% uptime requirement from the client. So that makes it even more challenging because nothing can mess up, nothing can go wrong.

Peter: So our solution was again, as traditional PLC, but because now the data is owned by this client. This is owned by the client, this is operated by us, but all the data lives with the client. We changed the configuration slightly and updated it. We went with a traditional PLC again, but this time, we used the Stratus Redundant edge computer device which is a bit more expensive, but provides redundancy, provides real-time backup of the two systems, and all of the data is stored locally. Again, we started with this plant that you see here, it's an Ignition vision HMI. The next plant we're building is a Perspective HMI. But again, we're leveraging the screens we have already in vision because the users, the operators are typically the same people, they're cross-trained across and they don't want to deal with two different HMIs. So we designed our Perspective module to look as close to the vision HMI as possible.

Peter: Also because, again, everything's housed locally, we're running a full Ignition, not Ignition Edge locally. And then that data is running MQTT to a second full Ignition server, which sits on our side of the fence to our cloud server running full Ignition. So in this case, we had the local Ignition license and a full local Ignition and the remote Ignition. And so, this gives us a couple of different options to access data for the system and this is what makes this so powerful. Since Ignition does a fantastic job of converting the HMI to a local network that's accessible by any device on that network, we actually created a separate VLAN for this network for the Ignition network. And we can access it in the control room from the computer that's dedicated there, we could access it by an ad hoc WiFi network that gives us access to that network or we can VPN from remote locations, namely, my office to actually control the system.

Peter: So that means that for the engineers and the people troubleshooting the units, we have several different ways of accessing the HMI. But for everybody else who doesn't need all of this exquisite level of control, we run Perspective and we have a cloud server, that remote server that's running Perspective, and they can access that data any time a day without worrying about bandwidth considerations. And so, it's a lot better architecture for that because they get a lighter version of what they're seeing and it's only mono-directional because they're not gonna make changes. So we could share this data with the client, they can open it up on their phones, they can't mess anything up, they can't shut down the unit because everything is just mono-directional. But the result of this was great because we're phasing out almost all of our Alan Bradley equipment except for the PLC. The remote control room which we're moving towards as we build the third and fourth of these plants that we have scheduled, we're going to build a remote control operation center here in San Antonio. It's automatically integrated. We just need to set up a VPN to those networks and we've got it, and we have full control.

Peter: And then also, on top of that, we are still running all of that intelligence. So we're doing soft sensors that are predicting values that are also predicting, predictive maintenance on some of those other sensors because if they don't match the sensors around it, it detects that this sensor is not operating correctly. We're also running fast fourier transforms on our pumps to see when those failures are, or predict those failures, and we're getting closer and closer to actually just having a big screen that just predicts our maintenance and schedules our maintenance for us. We're getting very close to that technology now that we already have some PM on our sensors and PM on our pumps. Now, the next step is to turn that into a scheduler so that our support team could actually repair these things in advance before they break.

Peter: To show you the architecture of this one, again, the plant is on the left, the traditional PLC. This time, we moved a lot of things inside the Stratus box and into the Ignition box. We're running full-blown Ignition. Obviously, Python scripts doing their calculations and then, a Perspective module on our new system that allows our users to connect any to that network and using any browser that they have, they couldn't actually access the full-blown HMI. And if they don't have access, hard-wire access, they can connect to the WiFi and connect to the HMI. And then, for the rest of us or for the rest of the operations team who just wants to see the data, the data gets transferred by MQTT to a cloud server, where they can access by phone. The advantage of the WiFi network, I'm just gonna briefly mention that, is that our screen and I'll get to the WiFi network in a second. But this is again our screen, this is built on vision. The right-hand side is what the casual user can see, can access without messing anything up, that is in Perspective. They can also build trends in that, both sides are able to build trends, both sides can build ad hoc.

Peter: Trending and plots, one thing versus the other very easily and it's integrated quite well. And again, because we're trying to recreate the Vision look and feel a little bit, our operators are comfortable switching over to Vision. They don't even know we've switched over in many cases. The buttons look a little different, but the screen is ultimately the same. And so, we don't have to have a Management of Change, we don't actually train them, it's actually quite straightforward for them to switch over to the new system. So talking about that HMI and the WiFi network, that means any tablet or mobile device on the site becomes the HMI. And the best example of that is our control room is simply just a trailer with an ethernet cable running to it. And the computers we use for the HMI are $300 cheap Linux boxes that we have extras in the drawer so if something breaks, we can replace the HMI instantaneously for a few hundred dollars. So that means that we are 100% uptime from an automation standpoint, the control room always has access, and when things happen and they need to evacuate the unit, they contact one of the four of us that have the VPN access and we could take control of the unit completely remotely wherever we are.

Peter: The other cool thing is when we were commissioning this unit, we had the ad hoc WiFi network working, and so our integrator was able to just make adjustments and to do their function checks completely from a tablet without needing the radio controlling back to the control room because their tablet was the control room. And so we were able to do the function checks of, the final function checks of this unit in a few hours rather than a few days which was really great. The last thing to comment about is about where our data travels and how we use that and how we layer our control systems of our units. I said our units are smart. We're doing all of these things you see here, we're doing model predictive control, self-tuning a P&ID loops, fuzzy logic control, soft sensors, all of these things are being done. And if I lay them out on a screen, I put them into this two axes. The first axis going up and down is for on a time scale. So seconds calculations that are required every second, every minute are down at the bottom. As we get higher and higher up, we're moving to hours, days, weeks, months, years and we're gonna need more and more bandwidth, more and more bandwidth for that data and we're also gonna need more and more computing power. So to save cost, we divvy this up a little bit and divide this up. Always the PLC is best for minute to minute control, it is designed to handle a tremendous amount of data in and out instantaneously and never falter.

Peter: And so the PLC, we keep in the bottom left. Now, to transmit data on a short time scale, we don't have the luxury of a huge bandwidth. These are in remote areas, so we have to have a computer locally to do some of those calculations and an edge device is perfect for that because not only is it gonna be running the Ignition, but it also runs some of these local calculations that don't require a huge amount of computing power, but do require a lot of bandwidth because it's on a short time scale. So the nonlinear control calculations are being done at that level. We're doing some soft sensor calculations on that level. Some of the fuzzy controls are done there, but most of that's moved up into the next phase. So the PLC to Ignition edge, that is a classic connection as we all know about that we've worked with OBDs. And then, but that data then gets transmitted to the full Ignition server, which is running another layer of calculations.

Peter: Now, to get the data to that one, we use MQTT. MQTT is great 'cause it can send a tremendous amount of data with a relatively low bandwidth, not all of the data, but a subset of that data. And that's where we can really do some self-tuning P&ID loops and which we've done already, and we've now shown that the P&ID tuning parameters change from day to night, for example, and now, we're incorporating that. We're doing some fuzzy controls as well and we're starting to integrate our model predictive control there. But that computer is still not enough to do tremendous amounts of calculations, to do heavy lifting, artificial intelligence, and so we've added a third layer on top of it, which is our cloud server.

Peter: That is simply now it's communicating by database connections, we use PostgreSQL to communicate, we could do any calculation we want. This is where we have the luxury of weeks or months to do these calculations, and we can really fine-tune everything and get everything down. And then the data moves down in the database to Ignition which sends it to edge which sends it back to the PLC. And then, the final comment to make is about external calculations. So we also use APIs as well, for example, in weather. So our app download the Ignition Edge platform through an API, downloads what the weather forecast will be, or if there's a tornado warning, the unit will go into shut down when there's a tornado warning, or the weather forecast, we can predict our heater temperatures and heating load requirements based off of the future temperature, not the current temperature.

Peter: All of this is behind the scenes of Perspective and Vision. But really, honestly, a lot of this is seen by the users and the operators on the front end because all of this data then filters back to the HMI, which ultimately lives in Vision and Perspective. Those HMIs though, that data is also driven towards our operations scene in San Antonio where they can look at trends and they can look at the bigger picture items and compare units to units, as well as, the finance team of our office who can almost see real-time P&L data of our units and know exactly when problems are arising. So that's all I have to show for today. So I'm gonna hand this back over to Kevin.

Kevin: Great, appreciate it, Pete. I always love seeing your stuff. No, I'm really impressed with all of these projects. Of course, we did a dry run of the webinar and this isn't the first time that I've seen them, but there's some very good looking projects that are out there and I love seeing these and what a lot of our other integrators are doing with Perspective as well at this point. I'd like to wrap the webinar up with a few short questions here. A quick question for the panelists. First, how did Perspective make the project easier from a development standpoint compared to other solutions on the market? And Pete, you just showed off a very impressive project. Why don't we start with you? 

Peter: Sure. So I think the real reason why it made it easier and share with you a story is, we built those Vision screens with a first year student. He just graduated, his first year out of college, and he was building that.

Peter: Our Perspective pages are being built by an intern. The ease and use of Perspective and to program it, and to make these things look and feel great, is so much easier than Vision. And it's a lot, it's a very powerful tool.

Peter: The second thing is from the people who are end-users of those screens. The operators, the operations team, and the engineering support, and the finance guys, they're able to build their own trends, and build their own dashboards where they can customize plots in real time for themselves, that we don't even have to pre-program for them. And that's what makes it so great. It makes it so powerful. It's a lot easier to use, and it's just a lot more flexible.

Kevin: Great, thanks, Pete. And then from the NLS team. Morgan, do you want to answer the same question there? 

Morgan: Sure. So for us it really does come back to the response of nature and the HTML-5 aspects of Perspective. And the fact that now you can really create the app that you were dreaming of all the way along, because before it was a little bit out of reach, and it was a little bit inconvenient. But now you can just do it, and you don't have to do it more than once, or expend a huge amount of effort to get excellent results.

Morgan: And the other thing that we value, too, is the extra ways you can manipulate data with script bindings, and stuff like quality of life, improvements that have come with Perspective, and as well Ignition 8. I know, of course, the community support that you can go in and get feedback and support from the developers and make suggestions. So it's a very open process.

Kevin: Great. And then Alex, over to you. Same question. How did Perspective make the project easier from a development standpoint compared to other solutions on the market? 

Alex: Yeah, for us having to deal with the Google integration, to do that with Vision would have required us to do quite a bit more integration work and develop a lot of custom code. And to be able to do that with Perspective and the same old logging capabilities greatly simplified what we were able to build there. And to have it be a native solution that is part of the platform that we don't have to separately maintain. And then also being able to have the mobile flexibility without having to use the mobile module. Give the operators a best-in-class tool that they can use to do their job better.

Kevin: Thanks, Alex. Alright. And then the last question that I have for the panelists before we jump over to all of your questions, is, what potential do you see for leveraging Perspective for other projects, customers or industries? And Pete, we'll start with you.

Peter: I think one of the big things that we see for leveraging Perspective is, we can now show this app and we can show this to other clients, and when we show them to our clients, their jaws drop about the level of control and what we are accessing in real time.

Peter: But then, inevitably they always say, "Hey, can you add this to this? Or can you integrate our other PLC data? Or can you make us a plot for this?" And in Vision, it takes a programmer a little bit of time to go through that. And in Perspective, it's, "Give us two days and we'll have it working."

Peter: So, Perspective just gives us that flexibility and that capability of, for example, as was just mentioned Google Sheets, or anything else. The integration to other products and other user experiences becomes so much easier.

Kevin: Great. Mike, over to you for NLS for the same question.

Michael: So, Perspective is great from a usability perspective. We see a huge potential for it in the energy industry, in the water industry. The fact that you can get a $2000 historian server, and put a little bit of load balancing and be logging two to five million tags for less than five grand. The Inductive Automation has got it right from the architecture, from a licensing perspective. The fact that it's easy to use, it's extremely modern, the way that it's conducive to development, and the way it's conducive to people who want to receive media, including SCADA, the way that they are today of social media, and the like. The sky's the limit as far as I can see.

Kevin: Alright, great. And Alex, same question, very quickly. We have some good questions from the audience that I'm going to get to in just a moment here.

Alex: Sure. For us when we go into a facility, no one ever puts their phone back into their pocket and says, "I don't wanna see data on this. I want full access anywhere I am in the facility." Then they don't really wanna be able to use the capabilities of the product, and have it operate in a way that they're used to with technology outside of the industrial sector. And using tools like Perspective, allows us to integrate with libraries, and things that people are used to using software as a service applications. And bring those into the platform natively, through the module development capabilities. And really allows us, as an industry, to come into the modern age. And we're no longer fighting to get to 2009. We can actually be in 2019 and keep up with the rest of the world. So, I think Perspective is the best step that we've taken in the last five or 10 years, to get to that point. And we're really excited for it.

Kevin: Great, thank you. Alright, I'm going to fly through the last couple of slides so that I can get to all your questions, here. And if you wanna download Ignition yourself, if you're not familiar with it, go ahead and download it from our website, inductiveautomation.com. You can try it for free. We have a fantastic e-learning site called Inductive University 100% free videos that are available there. And then in terms of the questions, I'm jumping right over to these. Pete, here's a question for you. Do you use fast fourier transforms FFTs to predict issues and schedule PMs? 

Peter: Yes, we do. So at the current moment and this is kind of the coolness

Kevin: Oh, and sorry, let me jump in. It's actually how do you use FFT? I messed up the question, go ahead yeah.

Peter: Sure, so it's actually kind of an interesting way we do this because we have been able to with our architecture do it kind of offline and then we're in the process of integrating that into our system so our developer has a server that's his own that can integrate with the database without bothering the database and then he can run a variety of different codes. So we've bought some off-the-shelf calculations and then we're also using some of our homebrew, stuff. I forgot the name of the brand or the model we're using from the, when we purchased but we're doing both, we're doing a homebrew version and we're doing some off-the-shelf purchased calculations.

Kevin: Great, alright, a few questions that I can answer here. Are there going to be slides available and is there going to be recording? Absolutely, so we're going to make those available. You can also download the materials right now, if you go to the bottom of your screen there should be a link there for downloading those PDFs that is by clicking the handouts icon inside that toolbar, you can also go to our discovery gallery to watch the videos of each one of these projects but in addition to that, yes, we'll have the webinar materials available as well. Is it possible to use external JavaScript libraries? The quick answer is there is a way to import some of these into Ignition and Perspective directly however, generally if you want to use a JavaScript library and you wanna use it in a Perspective way you'd wrap that up inside a Perspective module and inside our SDK we have an example of creating a Perspective component with whatever code that you want behind a Java Script HTML, any of that so that's up to you you can choose to do that if you want to, most folks just go with the built-in component set but the power is there if you need it. Alright, a question over for NLS. Does the county get to see all of the data, Google Sheets, flare data, drone and a SQL application? 

Alex: Yeah, the county has access to the data as well, they're the ones maintaining the systems so basically we did the Perspective work SCS built a flare systems and then the county is the one operating and managing that data, so they have access to everything that goes out to the Google system as well and then we do pull that data into a database as well just for long-term storage so we're not necessarily reliant on the Google Sheets interface and if we need to pull that into any other reports or dashboards or anything we have that flexibility and that every Ignition project we touch has a database component so that's common practice.

Kevin: Okay, well, thank you, my apologies, yes that's right that was of Corso's first project there but I think that we will wrap up with a question for NLS. This actually says for NLS inside the questions, I'm sure that is directed to you. To NLS you use LTE backhaul from the sites, do you have maximum bandwidth, Rupert and latency requirements or would any decent network connection work? Also is LTE connection on the public internet or private IPC key? 

Michael: Yeah, thanks, yeah, the LTE connection that's pretty industry standard for most data systems that are solar systems that are out of in the stakes, they typically place these places outside of a municipal or areas. So yeah, LTE connections are pretty stable. We do use Edge for the local store and forward and where budget is a consideration we're using MQTT, so you can drastically drop the cost there, you still get all of the store and forward capabilities. LTE is very, very common for our implementations.

Kevin: Alright, well I appreciate it. So one other question here was, how did you guys all handle cyber security concerns? I don't think we have time to do around the table on that but the quick answer from the Ignition Inductive Automation Perspective is that there's a variety of technologies that are in place inside Ignition and then inside each one of these communication mechanisms that can be used to help with cyber security, encryption, TLS all the way for most of the backhauls MQTT certainly has support for encryption, client certificate, server certificates and we can answer that question in more detail if you need that and we can, you could reach out after the webinar if you'd like and we can get even more specific details on that. Cyber security is very important to inductive automation and Ignition in any system like this of course. There was a question, what is the difference between the Perspective module and Perspective for mobile? 

Kevin: There actually isn't a difference so the Perspective module is Perspective for mobile and for the browser, we do have a limited version of the license that you can buy at a cheaper price point if all you want to do is use Perspective for mobile device, so you can buy the Perspective module but then license it as a mobile-only copy of Perspective so that's the only real difference there. If you buy the regular Perspective module you get mobile and browser that just comes with it.

Kevin: Alright, I wanted to say a quick thank you from us and feel free to give us a call, reach out to your account executive over here if you don't have one just give our number a call and we'll hook you up with someone and of course from a sales engineering standpoint we're happy to help, provide any guidance and help on any projects that you have that you're exploring and help you understand more about the Ignition platform. Warm, thank you from Inductive Automation, to all the presenters and panelists. Check-in on our news feed, on our social media and all the rest of that. So signing off here, have a great day, thank you everyone.

Posted on November 11, 2019