My name is Andrew Leduc and this summer I interned for OSIsoft in the Academic Intern Program. During my internship, I worked to integrate experiments in Lehigh University's Unit Operations Lab for Chemical Engineering students with the PI System.
Lehigh's Previous Setup:
Before the start of the internship, the Lehigh Laboratory had National Instrument's sensors sending data to the program LabVIEW. On the LabVIEW program, students could control the collection of the raw data and send that data to an excel sheet for further analysis.
Issues with this setup:
The storage of data for the machines in the lab was dispersed through different excel sheets students would submit throughout the course of the year. This made it difficult for professors to compare data from different runs of the experiment. In turn, checking the health of the machines and monitoring the academic honesty of the students was a great deal of work.
How We Connected the System to PI:
Through the use of custom plug-ins to the LabVIEW program, we were able to export data to a specific URL. The data is first sent to a localized buffer application installed on each machine that would protect against data loss. From there, the data is sent to a centralized UFL connector in the lab that could be accessed by each machine. The UFL Connector has a specific file configured to interpreted the data sent from LabVIEW and created AF Elements and Attributes.
After connecting the machines in the Unit Ops Lab to the PI System, the professors at Lehigh were able to monitor and keep record of all operations in the lab. This allowed them to make adjustments to the equipment before breakdowns occur, prevent the fabrication of data, and easily compare students work for more fair grading. Also, through the addition of an Element Template to the Lehigh PI Server, we are able to create event frames that capture the start and stop of each each experimental run. The Element Template uses substitution parameters to makes the addition of new experiments to the system seamless with little change needed to be made to the AF Database.
Attached is a write up on Process Information and Data Acquisition Systems, how they work and their uses in industry.