Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PI ProcessBook Is A Trend Visualization Tool, Not An Analysis Tool

ProcessBook is the trend visualization tool written by OSIsoft for their PI system. It is what is called a rich-client, which basically means that it is installed on your local computer and uses your computer's CPU to give the users a rich set of features. Because PI ProcessBook is how users interact with PI, this program is often confused for the PI system itself.

Our customers really like PI (the server) and ProcessBook (the client) - so do we - and sometimes fall in the trap of thinking that PI should be everything to everyone. And why shouldn't they?

ProcessBook provides everything you need for real-time monitoring. One time, I was watching this oxygen flow control valve to my bioreactor flicker on and off. I verified this was abnormal behavior by checking the O2 flow control valve tag from history. I called to the plant floor and met up with the lead technician in the utilities space to walk down the line and found that oxygen was actually leaking from it. There were contractors welding in that space at the time and though risks were low, we got them to stop until we fixed the problem.

Another time using ProcessBook, we saw a fermentor demanding base (alkali) solution prior to inoculation... something that ought not happen since there were no cells producing carbonic acid that required pH control. We called into the floor to turn off pH control to stop more base from going in. Confirmed the failed probe and switched to secondary. $24,000 of raw material costs were saved from looking at PI ProcessBook to see what the trends were saying.

The reason you don't put everything in PI (hence ProcessBook) is because ProcessBook is not an analysis tool. Analysis requires quantification. Good analysis applies statistics to let you know if differences you are measuring are significant. ProcessBook does not do that. It is there to help you put eyeballs on trends.

Spending funds to make PI ProcessBook into an analysis tool has a diminishing ROI. Your money is better spent elsewhere.

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