An addition to the FactorySuite 2000 industrial automation software system by Wonderware Corp., Irvine, Calif., can gather information from plant systems and equipment and alert operators when subsystems or machinery go down. Plant managers can use the program, called the DT Analyst, to track equipment downtime, evaluate production weaknesses, and identify equipment that repeatedly is out of service. It can also record changeover times, maintenance problems, product flow, and bottlenecks.

Engineers and managers can set downtime definitions. A logic manager monitors changing tag values, evaluates downtime definitions, and records downtime events to the database. If the logic manager detects that a system is down or slowing production, it notifies an event manager operating on each HMI node or PC.

"Many times the most painful downtimes are of a short duration, but they happen frequently," explains Kevin Tock, senior vice president and general manager of Wonderware Corp. "Operators become used to clearing a system fault quickly, and no longer consider the downtime associated with 10 or 20 twominute fixes. They also fail to notice other problems taking place upstream or downstream as a result of starting and stopping a production line. Therefore, downtime can be attributed to the wrong piece of equipment."

Operators can respond to alarms and manually enter related information, such as planned downtimes, through the event manager. To provide insight into event sequences, a downtime editor shows the collected information in graphical format, similar to a Gantt chart. To handle communication with PLCs or other data sources, an I/O manager runs on the plant server.