History: Know it or You’re Doomed to Repeat it

I love history, especially American History. My favorite is the revolutionary era. I just finished the two volume John Adams book. It was really fascinating. Everything about his life was so different from ours. Travel was excruciatingly slow. It took him weeks to get from Boston to Washington. Letters, slow to write, slow to send and receive, were the only form of communication. Medical care was almost non-existent. When sick, you went to bed and either you got better or you died. Very little help except for some herbal recipes.


History seems to be a favorite topic in Industrial Automation today. I am hearing a lot from customers who want to collect history data. They need to analyze trends, quality data, machine performance and more.


There are lots of problems to solve in this area.


First there are the PLC issues. PLCs especially the ones with the meatball on the front are notorious for closed architectures. Even if you know how to access their data table you still have access problems. Can you get the data reliably and deterministically? If you are going to save the data to a database you will want both a timestamp and the knowledge that the data is synchronized the way you want and delivered on time every time.


The database side is another issue for PLC History. There are more databases than hairs on my head… Oops – bad example. There are more databases out there then old girlfriends that want to cut off parts of my anatomy.


Everybody has a favorite database. Getting the history data into your favorite database can be a challenge. The large ones from the really well known companies provide all sorts of mechanisms to capture data. Smaller ones from lesser known companies can give you more challenges than you want.


I’ve been thinking a lot about history now days. Not just American either – cool ways of moving process data into these databases. Stay tuned, I’ll have more to say about it in the next few months.