What Should I Look for in Performance Monitoring Software?

You’ve probably heard it referred to as Control Loop Performance Monitoring, Loop Performance Monitoring, Controller Performance Monitoring, or even just Monitoring software.  The long list of names aside, the technology is relatively new and it addresses a need shared by most manufacturers.  That need is for improved awareness of issues negatively affecting a plant’s control loop performance.  The benefits of these monitoring tools range from increases in production output and quality to reductions in energy consumption and waste.  While more and more of PID controller monitoring technologies are popping up the question remains: What’s needed in Control Loop Performance Monitoring solution?

Timely Information:

When it comes to performance timely information is critical. More specifically, access to the right information at the right time can be the difference between operating a proactive, profitable facility and maintaining one that’s both reactive and non-competitive. As such an effective Performance Monitoring solution should deliver information on time, every time.  Reports should be issued on a regularly scheduled basis.  Alerts should be triggered as tolerances are exceeded.  These are essential attributes of any Monitoring software.

Detailed Information:

Details, details, details. That’s another important topic when considering the purchase of Control Loop Performance Monitoring software.  While reports and alerts enhance awareness of poorly performing PID control loops, it’s the details provided by Key Performance Indices (KPIs) along with the analysis of loop interaction that facilitate both root-cause analysis and rapid problem resolution.  An effective Controller Performance Monitoring software should include KPIs that thoroughly assess issues associated with mechanical, tuning, and loop interaction.

Actionable Information:

Simply put – information provided by any Loop Performance Monitoring software should be actionable.  This third attribute is especially important due to the growing workload imposed on operations and engineering staff.  Indeed, knowing that a valve is operating at a physical constraint or that upstream oscillations are driving downstream variability is helpful information.  A good Performance Monitoring software should provide clear recommendations for corrective action.

Job Appropriate Information:

While awareness and information are helpful aspects of Control Loop Performance Monitoring technology, these benefits lack true value if they’re not related to an individual’s specific range of responsibilities.  It’s no surprise that maintenance staff only want information related to maintenance issues.  The same applies to operators, engineers, and plant managers.  A good Monitoring software will tailor the delivery of information on an individual basis.  It will make sure that each individual is equipped with the function-specific information that’s needed to maintain optimal plant performance.

While Loop Performance Monitoring software has been proven to increase production output and efficiency, the wrong product can result in additional headaches.  If you’re considering an investment in Monitoring software, then be sure to keep these four (4) criteria in mind.  They’ll help you to reap the benefits…and avoid the headaches!

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