Are you sitting on a landmine or a goldmine of data?

Problems During the Data Acquisition Stage

One common problem clients experience is during the data acquisition stage. Your facility may have a number of smart devices and equipment. However, organizing data produced by these devices can get complicated. Organizing your data is a prerequisite to any further action or manipulation data. Unorganized or unusable data can be a disservice to clients than not having any data at all. As one of our leaders likes to say, “customers can either be sitting on a landmine of data or goldmine of data.” Manufacturers should strive for the latter.

For information to be valuable, it must be actionable. In order for data points to convert into actionable information, it must be available to your reporting and analysis tools. Data collected manually can be collected improperly and contain errors.

You may have parts of your facility or production lines that aren’t currently on any type of plant floor network. How do you talk to these machines? Or maybe you have a connected plant floor and are collecting lots of data, but this data lives in separate locations. Another possibility is that you have instrument data going into a data historian and production data getting put in a database, and you struggle with knowing how to bring all that data together.

Recent Developments

Fortunately, there have been substantial investment and development in products and tools to make it easier to connect instruments, machines, and data repositories. Let’s look at some examples:

  1. You need to get data from a device that only communicates via serial. There are new protocol converters and gateway devices on the market that allow almost any conversion of communications.
  2. You need smart instruments where you don’t currently have them. New technology with wireless products allows users, in many cases, to start collecting data without needing to run pipe and wire.
  3. You need to pull electronic data from multiple data repositories, perhaps even the cloud. There are new solutions in the marketplace that help facilitate the transfer of data to where you need it.

Some solutions may seem expensive or lacking certain capabilities. Yet, it may be worth your while to take another look. Give your automation technician a call. Products and solutions are coming to the market more quickly than ever before in the industrial space. Costs may have changed and functionality may have expanded. A large portion of what Interstates Control Systems, Inc. spends on R&D today is looking at the marketplace for these new products and services and evaluating their merits for our customers’ needs.


Jerry Steenhoek, Interstates Chief Technologist