What is data backfilling?

How does backfilling data benefit your plant-wide monitoring initiative?

Manufacturing facilities across the process industries are increasing their adoption of plant-wide monitoring and diagnostic solutions. Essentially, they’re seeking to capitalize on existing investments in data as a means of improving production efficiency and throughput. One type of diagnostic solution in particular that is seeing a significant uptick in adoption is Control Loop Performance Monitoring (CLPM) technology. CLPM – sometimes referred to as controller performance monitoring – proactively assesses the performance of a production facility’s numerous PID control loops. It equips production staff with early detection of performance issues, facilitates the isolation of root-causes, and offers recommendations for corrective action.

At the heart of CLPM and other analytical solutions is the data itself. While tapping into a production facility’s store of data is an obvious necessity, the manner by which that data is accessed and leveraged is not always as clear. Some technologies apply a forward-looking approach. They consume data only as it’s generated and use the data as the basis for both establishing performance benchmarks and evaluating changes in control. In contrast, other CLPM technologies establish the same KPI benchmarks by using – or backfilling – a production facility’s abundant historical data. If you’re looking into a CLPM solution for your plant or enterprise, then here are a few benefits to the backfilling approach that may be worth considering:

Immediate Access to Insights

Diagnostic solutions that begin by using new data require significant time before they can provide actionable insights. After investing both time and money into a CLPM solution, it is natural to want to utilize the new tool as soon as possible. Whether the time involved with capturing new data amounts to weeks or months, waiting for data to populate an analytics solution can seem an unnecessary delay.

CLPM solutions that are equipped to backfill using historical data permit nearly immediate access to insights. Backfilling supports the rapid creation of KPI benchmarks, setting performance bands based on each PID control loop’s historical performance and providing a baseline for future process improvement. With faster access to actionable insights, CLPM users can accelerate their return on investment.

IT Connectivity Issue Fix

Managing data connections within a modern production facility is no simple task. Connectivity issues associated with both wired and wireless sources routinely crop up and they can interrupt the flow of data from essential process equipment. Whether it involves an unmanned compressor station or an offshore oil platform, the disruption creates gaps in the available data which can undermine the efficacy of a CLPM solution’s analysis

Advanced diagnostic solutions that are equipped to backfill can correct for losses of data associated with IT connectivity issues. More specifically, once connectivity is reestablished the backfilling feature polls for any lost data and fills the associated gaps. This assures a complete data set for use in the calculation of all performance metric. It also assures that recommendations for corrective action are based upon a complete set of data.

Ability to Look Into the Past

CLPM solutions that lack a backfilling feature are limited in their ability to investigate historical performance trends. They can only go back as far as the analytical solution’s initial start date. That restriction presents unique challenges for manufacturers whose processes are subjected to seasonal or other time variant behavior. If the “golden batch” was processed prior to the solution’s implementation, then that data is essentially off limits.

Backfilling equips users with unlimited access to a facility’s data. It allows practitioners to dive deeper into their historian for comparative loop assessments. By allowing them to investigate past performance, backfilling allows manufacturers to optimize for the future. There are any number of essential CLPM capabilities that should be taken into consideration prior to making an investment. To learn more about CLPM and plant-wide process optimization, contact the experts at Control Station.

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