Easy as PI: Edge Data Store

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For a company like Rolloos, which specializes in improving safety in offshore drilling, there are a lot of complex and dangerous processes surrounding everyday operations. Often working in the middle of the sea on a drill rig, operators rely solely on visual confirmation from ground crews when moving drill pipes. Between cumbersome equipment, 30-foot drill pipes, and employees moving about, offshore drilling is rife with risks. After a safety incident, one of Rolloos' clients reached out to get help improving their operations and mitigating incidents, and Rolloos knew just the solution: Edge Data Store.

Chris Felts, senior strategic product manager, and Penny Gunterman, group lead for product marketing, are both intimately acquainted with one of OSIsoft's latest technologies, Edge Data Store (EDS) and the transformative impact it can have on a business.

What is EDS?

In layman's terms it's software to bring edge IoT data into mainstream data sets, explains Gunterman, “It's a set of rugged, resilient software components integrated together to allow people to gather data from assets in locations that used to be too expensive or too dangerous to access, giving increased visibility.” The pumps you used to have to drive hours to, the places where you couldn't put a traditional computer - they're all accessible with EDS for remote monitoring.

EDS diagram

What inspired EDS?

“OSIsoft has a long history of providing field based, real-time data collection, but with many remote assets, data cannot be collected and sent in real-time due to unreliable or low bandwidth networks. EDS was developed to provide real-time connectivity for these remote assets and short-term data storage so data can be accessed locally and sent when network connectivity allows. In most of these remote asset scenarios, the PI Server isn't a good fit- it is enterprise software that requires enterprise level compute resources and an administrator to manage it, and in edge cases, you have low powered device and may not have people around,” says Felts, adding that “EDS runs on small, lightweight, resource constrained Linux and Windows devices.” The goal of creating EDS was to shine a light on assets/processes that are “far from home” adds Gunterman, highlighting that we wanted to create a technology that would be able to withstand challenging elements.

With the abundance of cheap, available IoT sensors and the space rapidly evolving, there was a huge convergence of opportunity that has allowed OSIsoft to better support our industrial customers.

Who uses EDS and how?

The classic customer is an industrial operator who puts it on trucks, oil rigs, and other operations out in the field, particularly in challenging elements or faraway places. Customers that have adopted the cloud can use EDS to support edge to cloud connectivity, as EDS enables these customers to bypass the plant and send EDS data directly over the Internet to OSIsoft Cloud Services (OCS). EDS is not limited to remote assets, it is also a good fit for self-contained, packaged equipment, serving as the local data collection, storage, and application platform for the equipment, providing seamless data integration with the plant's PI Server.

Beyond the industrial operators themselves, EDS as an application platform allows OSIsoft Partners to use EDS to deliver their value-added applications and services such as edge analytics, visualization and remote monitoring solutions. In the case of edge analytics, EDS allows them to have analytics right next to the device, complementing legacy controllers to provide monitoring and diagnostic capabilities that would otherwise require an expensive rip-and-replace approach. For equipment manufacturers, the lightweight footprint of EDS means that they can incorporate them into their assets and create products that support edge capabilities from the onset, arriving to their clients' destinations PI System ready.

What are some of the key features?

“It's rugged,” explained Gunterman - meaning EDS is designed to work on industrial hardware in environments that aren't traditionally conducive to an on-premise system, be it due to location, climate, etc.

It also doesn't require admin intervention or a customized connectivity solution to set up - it's got off the shelf connectivity.

EDS also includes a configurable local storage, allowing the user to store as little or as much data as their device supports, which is key for transferring data at a later date and for accessing data as it's coming into a device to view it in real-time. Additionally, an API for visualization/applications sits on top of EDS, allowing it to easily integrate with custom applications, in addition to having native integration with PI Server and OSIsoft Cloud Services (OCS).

How are people using it?

Multiple customers have now gone through the lighthouse program and successfully worked with EDS, explains Felts. UniEnergy Technologies, an OSIsoft connected services partner, is an energy storage solution provider in the industrial and commercial utilities, renewables and micro-grid sectors. UniEnergy has successfully rolled out EDS on Linux devices connected to their battery solutions, allowing them to more efficiently install, configure, and monitor these assets once they're deployed.

IPCOS, an upstream oil and gas solution provider, is working with several customers with large numbers of vertical beam pumps which they're now monitoring and analyzing with the help of EDS. Whereas operators used to have to manually drive out to these pump sites, the pumps are now able to collect data and send it back to their PI System via wireless network.

Rolloos, a Netherlands-based firm, has used EDS to improve safety on offshore rigs, which are notoriously dangerous. To enable more efficient accident mitigation, Rolloos pivoted its CCTV technology into a comprehensive red zone detection system, piloting EDS to ensure that all data was accessible by offshore operators for immediate decision support.

What's next for EDS?

According to Chris Felts, there are several key enhancements on the horizon for EDS. First off, we're expanding the inbound data connectivity of EDS to include more industrial data source though the development of a new set of real-time data connectivity products that will run on the same type of resource constrained devices as EDS. We're also developing a remote software management service, which will allow users to remotely install, configure, and update EDS from a central location. Also, we've had a lot of interest in lightweight calculations and local visualization of EDS data, which we're exploring. As EDS is adopted and used to address new scenarios, we will continue monitoring customer, partner and market needs and evolve EDS to meet these needs.

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