Trending and historian software is used to record trends and historical information about industrial processes for future reference. Trending software captures plant management information about production status, performance monitoring, quality assurance, tracking and genealogy, and product delivery. When additional functionality is required, historian software may be used instead. Typically, historian software offers the features of trending software with enhanced data capture, data compression, and data presentation capabilities. Data is captured at a desired resolution and then compressed to improve system speed while reducing storage requirements.
Trending and historian software may also include standard reports and custom report-writing tools. Suppliers of trending and historian software can help manufacturers to improve their production processes and decision-making capabilities. Process data historians can be used to track business trends, reduce production costs, and apply business intelligence to product safety and quality. For example, some trending and historian software is used to help manufacturers implement Six Sigma DAMIC quality tools. DAMIC, an acronym for "define, measure, analyze, improve (and) control", is an improvement methodology that incorporates design reviews, analysis of variance (ANOVA) reporting, and control charts. By linking data to units in order to track quality and costs, trending and historian software can be used to analyze and improve overall plant performance.
Trending and historian software is designed to provide raw data and calculated values to plant managers and systems administrators. Often, communications protocols such as extensible markup language (XML), component object model (COM), and distributed COM are used to integrate various software platforms. For example, manufacturers may store data enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or maintenance management systems. Quality-control software packages and third-party tools may also be used. Although each of these data management systems may provide long-term storage and analytical capabilities, trending and historian software is well-suited for plant information management and related functions.
Some manufacturers may run independent applications in conjunction with trending and historian software. These software packages may run according to a pre-defined schedule, or in response to an event such as an alarm or user request. Although data historians are used mainly at the technical and engineering levels, plant operators may also benefit from using trending and historian software. For example, an operator on a production line can trigger an alarm that is alert a plant engineer to a problem or condition.