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Keeping Process Control Decision Makers in the Know

Jul 11, 2019 2:00:00 PM


If you've heard of the Cogent DataHub, you may be aware that it supports email and/or SMS notifications of defined conditional events based on a variety of data from it's various supported interfaces (MQTT, OPC UA, OPC DA, DDE, ODBC and more).  Having the right people receive alerts (such as when a tank has reached a critical level or a critical piece of machinery is offline) in a timely fashion can be the difference between simple downtime and a major liability.

This blog post will discuss how to use variable distribution lists in conjunction with the Cogent DataHub's Email/SMS capabilities to ensure the right decision makers will always receive important notifications as quickly as possible.

In the process world, mitigating problems before they occur can be a full-time job.  Knowing when a process is running at high temperatures before those high temperatures result in equipment failure and costly downtime, for instance, is key to taking corrective action.

Or making sure key production data is reported to the right group of decision makers each day/week/month so they can notice when something is off in the process can also prevent downtime and lost efficiency.

Or, when a process does go down for any reason, the sooner the right personnel (maintenance engineers, etc) find out about it so they can take action to restore the process is key to limiting the losses of that downtime.

Those are only a handful of example scenarios where the Email/SMS capabilities of the Cogent DataHub are able to provide important information to the right people straight from the process data DataHub is monitoring, based on your defined conditional triggers, specific times of the day or based on defined regular intervals.

Diagram - Cogent DataHub Email/SMS Alerts

Using an Email Distribution List to Ensure the Right People Get the Right Notifications in Cogent DataHub

As part of it's Email/SMS Events functionality (for a tutorial on configuring Email/SMS Alerts, see this Video Blog Post), DataHub has the ability to use a tag variable as an email distribution list.  This email distribution list tag can come from any defined data source that the DataHub is monitoring such as your PLC, OPC Server, HMI or even a database.

Alternately, you can also use a script in the DataHub's built-in scripting engine to maintain the email distribution list. 

The syntax to use a tag as the recipients is <%= $domain:tag %>.  In the example image below my fully qualified tag name is “Email:List”.

Screenshot - DataHub Email/SMS Distribution List Syntax

In order for the tag value to be used as an email distribution list, the tag does need to be a String data type with a value formatted as a comma-separated list of email addresses.

Advantages of Using an Email Distribution List in Cogent DataHub

There are several reasons why using an email distribution list for Email/SMS recipients in DataHub is advantageous over simply defining a static list of users.

Ease of Altering the Email Distribution List

If your company is anything like most companies, personnel turnover is always an ever-evolving concern.  As such, there will almost certainly be times when you need to edit the list of people who are getting a certain email or SMS notification.

With an email distribution list managed in a tag or a script, you can manage groups of people more easily.  So instead of having to touch every defined Email/SMS event in your DataHub configuration with a specific group of people as the recipient list, you can simply edit the Distribution List one time.

Since it's a tag variable that was defined as the recipient, simply updating the value of the tag propagates the change to any configured Email/SMS events using that group of contacts.

Automation of Changes to the Email Distribution List

Because a tag-based email distribution list is a tag that can be driven from logic in your PLC, you can even drive the email list of recipients based on a pre-defined schedule or who is currently on call or clocked it.  Or, since DataHub can source data from a database, you could even drive the list off of a database query.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, a DataHub gamma script could even be used to maintain the list based on any number of conditions defined in the script.

As you can see, the options for maintaining an email distribution list are very flexible allowing you to ensure that the list of people that need specific information, reports and alerts is always current. Hopefully this post has revealed ways you can keep your decision makers in the know so they can act quickly to minimize downtime and maximize profits in your enterprise.

Free DataHub Trial Download

Beyond Email/SMS, the DataHub offers a wide range of other functionality for accomplishing an extremely diverse set of challenges many users, like you, may experience on different integration projects.  For those of you not familiar, some of that built-in functionality includes integration with IIoT cloud data sources, bridging data between different sources, acting as a gateway solution between different types of OPC and other data sources and more.

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Win Worrall
Written by Win Worrall

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