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AGL – PLANT MONITORING DISPLAYS

Business Situation

AGL operates the country’s largest electricity generation portfolio and are its largest ASX-listed investor in renewable energy. Current, AGL provides gas, electricity, solar PV and related products and services to more than 3.6 million customer accounts across Australia.

AGL has chosen Green Technology Services to overhaul their asset monitoring and overview displays, focussing on PI ProcessBook and PI Vision technologies. This allows for fully customisable displays to be developed, catering to individual asset types and areas, and presented to users using standard web browsers without any additional installation or configuration.

Although plant operators are aware of strategies to maximise power generation while minimising operating costs, there existed no clear method of visualisation to allow operators the ability to track changes in strategy, and gauge how certain changes can impact overall plant efficiency over time. To address this lack of information visibility, GTS worked closely with various AGL staff, including plant operators, to create displays which would deliver key asset information front-and-centre, provide the ability to drill-down and inspect individual asset details, and view overall asset efficiency at a glance.

Screens developed cover key areas, such as generation, feedwater, condensing stages, and pumping stages, and are currently planned to be further customised and expanded to more of AGL’s sites spanning Australia.

Key Solution Components

ProcessBook generated displays

PI ProcessBook has been an integral part of the PI System for many years, providing an extremely detailed and in-depth visualisation solution. Its biggest asset is almost infinite customisability, allowing users to create displays of any description. Further extending this customisability, PI ProcessBook support Microsoft VBA functionality, allowing custom macros to further automate displays, and offer functions outside of the standard toolsets.

Due to this level of detail and possibilities provided, ProcessBook displays were chosen over PI Vision dashboards, but would utilise PI Vision to host the displays, allowing them to be viewed using only a modern browser.

PI Vision hosted ProcessBook Displays

The recently released PI Vision provides a quick and easy method to create dashboards and displays, but lacks the depth of detail, and customisability, that is present in ProcessBook. As a result, it was decided that complex and highly detailed displays were to be created in ProcessBook, but would be viewed only via the PI Vision portal. This provides many benefits, including:

  • Viewable from Desktops, tablets, and mobile platforms
  • Provided VPN and other security restrictions are met, can be configured to be viewable from outside the network and on personal devices.
  • Requires only a modern browser to view
  • Supports all built-in ProcessBook functionality
  • Extends ProcessBook functionality, by allowing any real-time value to display an ad-hoc trend on demand

Benefits

By utilising both PI ProcessBook and PI Vision technologies, AGL and GTS have been able to achieve a ‘best of both worlds’ solution, providing highly detailed and comprehensive displays that are only possible with ProcessBook, while being accessible using a standard browser across multiple types of devices. Leveraging the extended capability of PI Vision to create ad-hoc trends for any timeseries variable, the display functionality has been extended and now provides a greater depth of detail, with zero additional time to implement.

Displays can be easily modified to suit changes in other sites, and uploaded to PI Vision, allowing quick visibility of key KPI items. Backend technologies including PI Asset Framework provide all the required logic, be it simple calculations or advanced Analysis rules, and allows for ProcessBook to simply tap into the attributes of interest, and bring them to the forefront of any display. As new insights are gained, further refinements to calculations, or new calculations entirely, can be created and added to a display.