Four key qualities of a future-proof data historian

Jolan De Cock on , updated

Hunting for a data collection solution that stands the test of time? Look for these four key traits to recognise a future-proof data historian.

Over the past decade, the role of data historians has undergone significant transformation. Historically designed as bulky, proprietary tools restricted primarily to production environments, they have evolved into flexible, open data management platforms at the core of enterprise-wide decision-making.

As data drives critical operational and business decisions, choosing the right historian is crucial for success in the long run and can mean all the difference between staying competitive and falling behind. Making an informed choice today prevents costly upgrades later and protects your initial investment.

What makes a data historian future-proof?

A future-proof data historian is one that not only meets current needs but is also designed to adapt to future needs, changing client demands, and an evolving technological landscape. At the same time, it must be reliable, scalable, cost-effective, and capable of integrating seamlessly with existing systems.

When assessing whether your current or future historian meets those qualifications, these are the questions you should ask yourself:

  • How does it integrate with existing systems?
  • What scalability options does it offer?
  • Is it designed to adapt to future technologies?
  • How accessible is the tool for non-technical users?
  • What are the long-term costs and licensing implications?
  • What kind of support and community does it have?
  • How flexible is it in terms of customisation?

Four essential traits of a future-proof historian

To support your assessment, we’ve listed four essential traits of a modern-day data historian that is fit to meet today’s, as well as tomorrow’s data challenges.

1. No artificial limits on data and tags, and users

A future-proof data historian can collect a vast amount of data, providing a comprehensive view of your production processes without the artificial constraints common with classic historians. Access to process data is available to any user without additional licence fees.

There are always technical limits, but a well-designed historian minimises these constraints. As it can handle increasing volumes of production data, accommodate new data sources, and support more comprehensive analyses over time, it allows for seamless scalability as your enterprise grows.

How it works in Factry Historian

  • Production process data is collected directly from sensors, equipment, PLC, SCADA and other systems, without any tag or collector limits.
  • High resolution process data is sent in real-time to Factry Historian, whether it is through OPC-UA, OPC-DA, Modbus, .csv or .xlsx files.
  • Data can be accessed by any number of users, promoting collaboration and improving decision-making without additional costs.
collecting data

2. Real-time data aggregation and calculations

By automatically processing and performing calculations on the incoming data, a future-proof historian allows for real-time data aggregations. These calculations can provide live insights on process averages, yield, energy usage and other KPIs, offering actionable insights into performance and efficiency.

Looking to replace hindsight with insight, and cumbersome Excel calculations with automatic data processing? By handling complex calculations in real-time, a future-proof historian transforms raw data into a structured, analysis-ready format, eradicating latency between data collection and decision-making.

How it works in Factry Historian

  • After collecting the process data, Factry Historian adds the necessary context and calculations and stores the data in a time-series database.
  • Data from equipment, systems and processes is accessible in real-time, providing a bird’s-eye view of operations instead of having to sift through complex Excel sheets in hindsight.
  • By leveraging the Event Module, which can be configured without coding, raw data can also be put in the context of specific process events, such as orders, batches, or downtime.
real-time aggregation and calculation

3. Use of web-based visualisation tools

Classic historians often restrict access and limit how data is visualised and analysed due to their software capabilities. This can stifle innovation and narrow the scope of process data analysis, hampering comprehensive and timely decision-making, which is critical in a fast-paced production environment.

Open and web-based visualisation tools like Grafana, supercharged with the Factry Historian Datasource plugin, offer a user-friendly interface with customisable dashboards, making actionable data insights accessible to anyone. The tool is well-documented, continuously updated and supports collaborative process analysis, enhancing creativity and driving business growth.

Take this example:

At glass producer AGC, frictionless visual analysis through Grafana has led to a steep rise in employee engagement, and significant efficiency improvements.

How it works in Factry Historian

  • Factry Historian comes with the open dashboarding tool Grafana, an industry-proven solution for visualising and analysing large data sets.
  • Collected process data is displayed in customisable dashboards or screens, allowing for a comprehensive, real-time view on production.
  • Frictionless access to actionable insights is available for any role, enabling informed decision-making and fostering collaboration
web-based visualisation

4. Fluent integration with BI, AI and ML toolstacks

As a production company, you need a variety of systems, software applications and production tools to successfully run your manufacturing operations. Therefore, one of the most important aspects in choosing a data historian ready for the future, is seamless interoperability with other tools or applications.

A future-proof historian seamlessly supplies raw data to BI tools or other third-party applications, allowing your organisation to leverage historical data for advanced business analysis, while also laying a solid data foundation for more advanced AI or ML initiatives.

How it works in Factry Historian

  • Factry Historian can forward (a subset of) your data to any system or application using MQTT or Parquet files.
  • Data in Factry Historian is accessible through the REST API, or reporting tools can be configured to connect to Factry Historian’s underlying databases directly.
integration options using Factry Historian

Starting out with industrial data collection?

To future-proof your business, it is crucial to implement a historian capable of collecting tags in abundance, visualising data for unlimited users in a user-friendly dashboards, and integrating with any third party system or tool.

Our advice? Watch out for historians with closed architectures and pay-per-use models. These constraints make it challenging to integrate with other systems and expand storage or processing capabilities without significant costs.

With Factry Historian, you can replace hindsight with insight through an open and cost-effectively scalable solution for data collection, data processing and dashboarding, while building a solid data layer to support AI/ML initiatives.

Future-proof your business!

Learn how Factry Historian can help you collect, store, and analyse process data

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