How to build a Dashboard in Ignition – fast and at low risk

April 30, 2020


Jan Madsen

Here is a classical problem we often encounter: 

You have a SCADA (or a MES) system, and you want to extract some fundamental values to evaluate performance. But your SCADA system does not support the ideas you have. (By the high-flying consultants this would probably be called “entering a digital transformation phase,” but let us not get carried away by the hype.)

You have a practical problem: “I want to display some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in an understandable way, and my SCADA system does not support that. What do I do?”

Here is our approach to the problem based on the Ignition platform and using agile principles:

Step 1  Add Ignition in parallel to the existing system
Step 2  Define the KPI’s you want and figure out how to display them
Step 3  Create a prototype
Step 4  Adapt the prototype to the final solution
Step 5  Implement the ultimate solution 

By combining the flexibility and low license cost of Ignition with our approach, you get a head start on testing how this could work, and with a limited risk. 

How to speed up the process and reduce the risk?

We have to deal with a dichotomy. On the one hand, the client needs to see live data in the prototype to assess the solution and the messages it is conveying. “Is it comprehensible?” “Should we present this differently?” Often you need to see live data in the dashboard to get the picture and figure out what is working. 

On the other hand, creating live data means installing Ignition and connecting to other systems. Often connecting to other systems proves to be something that can take a bit of time. 

To handle this dichotomy, we create the prototype outside the client’s network on our infrastructure. And we use a data simulator on the Ignition platform to add live data to the prototype. 

In the video below, Jessica explains how we use the data simulator to create live data. A critical aspect of this approach is that we can create live data that make sense in the prototype. It is not just a random generator of incomprehensible values. Instead, it is meaningful values that help the client in assessing how the prototype conveys information. 

How to use the Ignition Tag Simulator:

The data simulator is engineered to deliver comprehensible data, and this trick makes the prototyping phase very efficient. The client can test the functionality of the dashboard, change things, add things, and nothing has been installed on their network. This approach reduces the time we need to develop and test a prototype, and it brings down the risk. 

The Enuda Team