CircleSoft's Product Animation System


A typical liquid product production and storage facility contains a number of of instrumentation systems often from different manufactureres.  The Product Animation System integrates the data from this mixture of computer systems.  PANS receives the field data from any number of these systems and has the following features:

1.   Provides intuitive graphic representations of all components of the installation

2.   Simultaneously displays and animates all elements in their current state

3.   Insures system, and display data integrity

4.   Provides multiple indications of installation status

5.   Provides constant monitoring and instant recognition of normal as well as unusual or unsafe operating conditions including visual, voice and sound alarms

6.   Provides easy modification of the installation's parameters and configuration

7.   Provides system information across secure LAN channels

8.   Provides flexible event logging, archiving and auditing

The PANS display system drives one or more monitors in 1024x768x256 SVGA mode.  For each bank of 16 monitors PANS requires one 486 class Microsoft Windows machine.  While building this display PANS monitors and tracks the status of all tanks, pumps, valves and pipes over time.  This places PANS  in a uniquely integrated  data environment which allows for the application of artificial intelligence (AI) precepts to recognize normal and unusual operating conditions.  The system is  networked and multi-media which allows the application of voice, sound and visual clues as well as electronic mail (Email) to alert operators, supervisors, management and customers of events.

PANS is developed using Object Oriented Programming (OOP) methods.  A combination of Microsoft and Borland development tools were employed to ease program development.  The architecture makes use of multiple inheritance and object polymorphism in implementing the system objects.  Furthermore, separate objects are implemented for physical modeling and the object display.  This separation of objects permits easy porting of the program to other operating systems and display architecture's.

Graphic Representations

This figure  illustrates the PANS representation of a typical product storage tank and collateral devices.  The rectangular tank contains three text data.  The first line of data is the textual name of the tank, here tank number 260-4.  Beneath the tank name is the current ENRAF reading of the gauge of the product height from the bottom of the tank.  Beneath the Gauge height of that product is three question marks.  Normally this area displays the flow rate of product into or out of the tank.  The number is in barrels per hour and is negative for out bound transfers and positive for inbound transfers to the tank.  Beneath the flow rate is a graphic indicating the floor of the tank slopes up towards the middle of the tank.

  On the left side of the tank is a reticule which is used as a graphic flow indicator.  When product is at rest in the tank this bar is blue and the lines are horizontal.  When product is flowing into the tank this graphic changes to a yellow color and the lines slope in an upwards left to right direction.  When product is flowing out of the tank the reticule changes color to green and the lines slope left to right in a downward direction. 

Behind the numeric data  the product level is displayed in a bar graph fashion.  The color of the bar graph indicates the product in the tank.  The level indicated by the bar graph is based on  maximum safe fill.  The top layer of this bar graph animates when a blender or mixer is engaged in the tank.  This is a positive indication that the mixing device in the tank is powered on.

Beneath the tank 260-4 graphic are representations of three valves, a pump and four pipe lines.  The left most tank valve is shown in a closed position.  The pipe leading to this valve is indicating that there is product in the line up to the elbow.  This is  the same product that is in the tank.  After the elbow there is a different product is in the line.  The line also indicates that there is another tank exerting head pressure against the closed valve. 

PANS animates the pipe lines in two different fashions.  Head pressure from gravity feeds of product in tank is displayed by a long slow animation.  The product appears to be moving away from the source of pressure.  Lines which are under pump discharge pressure are animated with closer spacing and appear to be moving faster.

The second set of valves on the right side of the tank bound each side of the tank pump.  The valves are open and the pump is on.  The green color indicates this.  Also PANS animates the flow of product coarsely up to the suction side of the pump and then finely at the discharge side.  This fine animation is carried through out the system to the product destination.

PANS also models the movement of product interfaces through the line system.  Product will appear to "push" other products through the line system until the flow path appears to be the source product throughout.  PANS will not change the color of packed product down dead ends of the line system.  The product will appear to be under head or discharge pressure as is appropriate.  Product not under pressure appears in the product's solid color.

One of the primary missions of PANS is the recognition of significant events in day to day operations of the terminal facility and the communication of these events to the operations personnel.

One of these events is the approaching stop gauge of tank.  The PANS system calculates the rate of flow of product into and out of tanks.  When the operator assigns a barrel figure to the expected amount of that move, PANS tracks the tank capacity changes from reading to reading and projects the time that the designated transfer will complete.  Based upon this calculation PANS issues stop gauge warnings at 15, 10, 5, 2 and at the stop gauge.

The time to the stop gauge appears at the bottom of the tank during the transfer..  Stop gauge is the calculated product level of the completed move.  This is a count down clock that decrements in real time

A transfer is assumed when the product volume of tank is reported changed and a valve is open on the tank.  The operator enters the barrels to transfer into the tank dialog box or a tank valve dialog box to activate the stop gauge alert.  When a stop gauge value is entered into the tank dialog box, this causes the current capacity of the tank to be used as the reference for measuring the total change. 

Physical and Mathematical Modeling

PANS actively models the entire terminal installation checking the data arriving from the sensor systems with what the ideal situation is calculated to be.  This parallel modeling of the physical system allows PANS to perform logical functions and deductions on the state of the tanks, valves, pumps and line systems in the terminal. 

A chief use of this modeling is the tracking of differing product interfaces within the line system.  PANS' modeling allows an N node arbitrarily interconnected network of nodes.  This means that PANS models the passage of product through loops in the line system as well a straight line runs.  PANS detects loops and also packed dead ends in the lines.  The illustration to the left demonstrates the type of interconnecting nodes in the line system.  Some nodes such as B, D and E permit only two bi-directional connections to other nodes.  These are pumps, pipes and valves.  Tee nodes allow any three nodes to be connected.  Tee type nodes A and C allow three connections. 

PANS models the product moving through each segment of the line system based differential pressures.  Head pressures in tanks caused by level of product and discharge and suction pressures through operating pumps are inferred by operating conditions, product levels and valve states.  Thus if the A node had high pressure as compared to the B node and low pressure at the E node product would flow from B through A to E.  If the C node was closed down no product would flow through the A to C connection.   The pressure from the B node would be asserted against the closed down C node.

By modeling the pressures throughout the line system PANS infers the flow of product. Thus when node B is a source of product such as a tank or inbound transport and the pressures are set such that there is pressure asserted by B against E Product flows from the B node to the E node.  PANS recognizes if and when the flowing product is displacing a different product already in the line system and models a product/product interface moving through the line over time.  As the interface moves through the lines over time the line is marked to contain that product until another product is sent through the line.  This is the method PANS uses to detect illegal product blends.

Little product mix will occur when product moves through a tee in the pipe system when one leg of the tee is connected to a closed valve.   Thus PANS preserves the product in such a dead end line system easing the operation's tracking of product within the system.


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