What is a Micro-Historian?

News flash – the market for pneumatics has been marginalized significantly by digital control.  And with data being increasingly central to the average plant’s day-to-day plant operations it’s no surprise that the market for data historians is growing.  Without data the staff in operations, engineering, and maintenance would be hard pressed to control production either safely or profitably.  And lest we forget, data is often a requirement – a means of documenting a plant’s adherence to an alphabet soup of government regulations.  This is the reality on which the suppliers of data historian solutions have built their businesses.

Control Station Micro-Historian DiagramBeyond the data itself more and more manufacturers are looking to advanced diagnostic technologies for data interpretation and production improvements.  For such technologies the quality – or resolution – of the data is a key consideration.  Slow sample rates can cause technologies such as predictive analytics and controller performance monitoring solutions to ‘miss’ important details that are routinely hidden in the data.  And while the cost of data storage continues to fall, the long-term expense can be considerable especially when the amount of data seems to be growing exponentially.  Enter the micro-historian.

The micro-historian is an alternative data collection and storage option for use with some advanced diagnostic and process optimization technologies.  It’s both similar and differentiated from the typical historian in the following ways:

A Fast Focus

Like other storage options the micro-historian is capable of collecting data at an array of speeds from very slow to exceptionally fast (i.e. milliseconds).  It’s the ability to collect fast data that is particularly key for advanced diagnostic solutions tasked with identifying changes in the performance of highly sensitive processes and/or equipment.  Ultra-fast data satisfies an advanced diagnostic’s need for high resolution.  What’s different about the micro-historian is that the collection and storage of such data is temporary…which leads to the next point.

Cost Controls

Unlike a traditional data historian the micro-historian stores data for a limited timeframe.  Think seven (7) days or three (3) months.  This assures that advanced diagnostic tools have access to high-resolution data when it’s needed most – as change occurs and as performance shifts.  Equally important, the limited timeframe puts a cap on the amount of data that’s stored and establishes a boundary on the cost of doing so.

Invaluable Info

While raw data may be both temporary and purged on a scheduled basis, the micro-historian can store any values that are calculated by a diagnostic solution.  That assures that the most important information is maintained by the plant for future reference.  And back to the idea of cost containment, this approach assures that expenditures are limited to a production facility’s most essential information.

To be clear – the micro-historian is not a replacement for a plant’s data historian.  Rather, the two are complementary.  Whereas the historian maintains a day-to-day account of a given plant’s basic production information, the micro-historian offers a temporary fix for the high-resolution needs of advanced analytic tools.  The one satisfies regulatory requirements while the other supports the goal of optimization and uptime.


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