Tag Archive for: Configurability
EIM: Configurable Software that Meets Your Needs
One of the key advantages of Locus’s environmental software is the ability to configure the software to fit your needs. If you buy pre-configured software, you must adapt your process to fit the constraints of the system you just bought. When you buy configurable software such as Locus’s EIM and Locus Platform, you’re able to create the exact workflow that you need.
EIM has multiple features that customers have used to configure the tasks of uploading, processing, querying, and reporting for their analytical, groundwater, and field data. For example, to date customers have created over:
- 2,750 expert and intermediate queries
- 4,300 enhanced formatted reports (EFRs)
- 830 electronic data deliverable (EDD) formats
- 950 saved query filters and output column lists
- 150 saved chart option sets
- 180 saved GIS+ maps
Let’s look at a few of the items above.
The Custom Queries module has features to configure and save your own queries tailored to the output that you require. The Intermediate Custom Queries module lets you select desired tables and fields, add selection filters, and then run the query. You also can save your query for future use. The image here shows one of the forms in this module. This form lets you build a query using a diagram showing tables and their relationships.
EIM also supports creating and saving Expert Custom Queries. You create these queries by using the Query Builder, a drag and drop interface for query creation. You can also edit the query using T-SQL (structured query language) if you know that language, but it’s not required to use the module. Once a query is created, it can be run by any user. You can also set up schedules that run a specified Expert Query at certain times, with the results emailed to selected users. In addition, Expert Queries can be called using the Locus EIM API with results accessed in other applications. The image here shows the Query Builder interface.
The Enhanced Formatted Report (EFR) module lets you create print-ready Excel spreadsheets that combine multiple data sources into compact pivot tables. EFRs are highly configurable. You can select the data fields to put into the rows and columns, as well as the fields to show in the cells of the pivot table. Furthermore, you can aggregate the data (for example, using the maximum or average).
You can also create, save, and apply rules for formatting the data. Maybe you need data to be highlighted in certain colors based on the data value, or whether the data exceeds an action limit. Or maybe you need the data modified to append certain flags based on data validation. You can support these scenarios, plus many others, in the EFR Module.
The image below shows the EFR interface for selecting fields for the rows, columns, and cells of an EFR pivot table.
The EIM Charting module lets you create line, bar, and scatter plots of your data. Once you create a chart, you have full control over all parts of the chart display, including the fonts and colors used for the chart axes, data points, legend, and labels. The image below shows many of the configurable options available for EIM charts.
The EDD Format Setup module lets you create and configure the EDD formats used for uploading your data into EIM. When you create a new EDD format, you specify a data delimiter as well as the destination tables and columns that are populated by the EDD. You can order the columns as needed to match your incoming EDDs. The image below shows the main form for setting up an EDD format.
EIM has many other configurable modules, such as the Analysis grids, the EDD Validation module, and the GIS+ module. All these tools let you fit EIM to your needs and processes. That’s the power of configurable software! For more information, contact Locus Technologies.
Business intelligence (BI) is a critical component of any organization. BI lets you analyze data on your processes and products, so you have the information needed to make decisions and take actions to improve your business’s performance. BI applications have been available for several years, with offerings from many companies including Microsoft, Oracle, SAS, Qlik, and Tableau.
Initially, BI was focused on just a few areas such as finance, logistics, and sales. As BI effectiveness evolves you need information covering all aspects of your business. One key information set is spatial information, which is usually managed in a geographic information system (GIS). GIS applications have been available since 1965 but only became widely commercially available in the 1980s when ESRI released its first GIS applications. Since then, GIS has spread from the desktop to mobile devices and the cloud.
Often, an organization’s spatial data is separate from other data, kept in its own department or application. For example, your organization might have a GIS department that manages geographic information for your facilities. However, spatial data might also be in other departments such as sales (locations of clients); physical plant (buildings, infrastructure, assets); logistics (sales or delivery routes), or even human resources (safety incident locations). It can be challenging to bring together these disparate spatial data sources and integrate them with non-spatial data stored in spreadsheets, databases, files, and other data warehouses.
Several recent business trends, however, have made it much easier to bring together both spatial and non-spatial information to support GeoBI or Geographic Business Intelligence. First, the rise and ubiquity of the internet ‘cloud’ has made it possible for an organization to put all their data into the cloud. Your business staff can now access all your data, regardless of the physical location of the data or your staff. Second, GIS has evolved from its earlier days when it was a way to automate traditional cartography. Now, GIS supports advanced spatial analysis and visualization techniques, including buffering, contouring, interpolation, network analysis, and 3D mapping. And third, new applications and methods have broken the barriers between spatial and non-spatial data. GeoBI software applications can manage both types of data, letting you combine all your data for analysis and visualization. Applications that don’t explicitly support both types can be connected through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) for seamless transfer of data.
GeoBI and Locus
Locus Technologies has been a leader in bringing GeoBI to environmental data management. Locus’ software supports non-spatial data analysis via reporting, charting, and expert query functionality. The Locus GIS+ add-on lets you add spatial data to your analysis with the GIS+ functions for spatial query, data classification, time series analysis, buffering, and contouring. Let’s look at some examples.
- Water quality: Clean water regulations may require your facility to identify and report any instances of chemical concentrations in water sources that are above certain action limits. To do this, you can load analytical results from chemical sampling into the application. Once the data is loaded, you can add the sampling results to the GIS+ along with overlays of plant assets, watersheds, aquifers, and other relevant geographic information. You can quickly generate maps showing concentrations at sample locations. In this way, you can identify ‘hotspots’ where your facility may be in non-compliance with regulatory requirements.
The example below shows the GIS+ displaying tritium results from water samples along with watershed boundaries. The map represents each location with a symbol that is colored and sized to reflect the actual maximum value at that location. You can easily see spatial patterns and identify two areas of concern near the center of the map – one with orange and yellow circles, and another with red circles. You could then use other functions, such as charting or contouring, to further explore the results at these locations.
- Air quality: Your facility may fall under clean air regulations such as the US EPA’s 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO standards. In short, this subpart establishes emission standards and compliance schedules for the control of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions). As an environmental manager, you could simply use a BI program to write and run a text query such as “show me all emission assets that have exceedances under 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO”.
However, Subpart OOOO often applies to the Oil and Gas industry where maps and GIS are heavily utilized. If you have data and maps, you can associate a data query to an area that is “lassoed” on the map. The example below shows several emission sites that have been grouped together by a user-drawn area. Locus shows a table of all data for the “lassoed” locations, including analytical results and regulatory exceedances. By simply putting a lasso around another set of emission locations, the query is automatically updated with the relevant results. No query needs to be written – you just need to lasso locations on a map!
- Safety: In a similar fashion, safety personnel can use a map to find different incident categories without having to train on reporting and query details. When an incident occurs, efficiency of logging the essential information is paramount, and simple pulldown list coupled with graphics expedite the process when time is of the essence.
Below is a map where the manager and incident for rapid input was pinned to a location and for follow-up on a particular region the manager can apply a lasso query to list all Significant Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs), for root cause and other analysis.
GeoBI and You
The above examples show how GeoBI can bring all your data together for use in analysis and decision-making, leading to a more complete picture of your facilities and processes. Furthermore, by having one suite of applications for your GeoBI needs, your organization can be more efficient. If spatial and non-spatial data are in separate silos, accessible only by different staff, it is difficult for one person to perform a complete analysis. Files, maps, spreadsheets, and other data objects must be shuffled between different persons and applications. With your data in Locus software, a full GeoBI analysis can be performed by one person, leading to productivity gains and cost reductions.
In the future, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to GeoAI, which would combine GeoBI with powerful features such as predictive analytics, pattern mining, and anomaly detection. Stay tuned for a future blog post on these exciting possibilities!
Acknowledgments: All the data used in the examples was obtained from the publicly available chemical datasets online at Intellus New Mexico.
I am constantly reminded by the number of calls we receive, that no matter how robust a SCADA and HMI system is, there is always a requirement for in-field O&M verifications and documentation. It’s almost universal and spans a myriad of industries, large and small, the need to monitor and record thousands of periodic (daily/per shift/weekly, etc.) routine readings/recordings at a prescribed frequency often recorded on pen to paper field forms. The same processes sometimes use “template” spreadsheets for data collection that are then emailed/placed on shared file servers or otherwise sent to some central location for review and post-processing. These processes are antiquated and subject to data quality and record-keeping challenges.
It’s time for an upgrade!
Electronic forms are great for collecting data and almost every business entity has built such forms in spreadsheets, word processing, or simple databases to collect the information. In addition, there is a software category of form builders, and they can certainly build forms. The question becomes is it a good fit to solve your business process issues?
Most customers have more sophisticated needs than simply collecting information on one or more custom forms – they want to do something with all the information collected far beyond what simple form builder tools can provide. Even customers with sophisticated spreadsheet forms, can’t manage them as they multiply exponentially or their Excel gurus retire.
Here are some examples of where you may require software tools beyond a simple form builder:
- Collecting equipment readings on each shift at multiple locations and reporting the data to centralized management, who review the data, and look for trends/issues.
- Verifying and validating data at the point of data entry to eliminate data entry errors.
- Automatically visualizing (charts or tables) information in near real-time to make operations decisions.
- Sharing the information with others.
- Scheduling activities related to periodic or infrequent data collection events.
- Receiving notifications when actions are due.
- Automatically creating regulatory reports in prescribed formats.
- Creating complex workflows and audited approval processes.
- Creating intelligent forms with calculations based on past data or other criteria.
Locus Platform is a configurable platform with standard applications that are easy to configure to customers’ unique requirements. One of its many strengths is its powerful form builder capable of creating simple or complex forms with simple or sophisticated logic. So, for customers looking to move from paper and spreadsheet templates, it’s an excellent option to consider, especially if you require more than a simple “fill in the blank” form for transmittal using mobile devices. Best of all, the data are securely stored in a database structure for reporting and alternative business uses and analyses, compared to the almost impossible management of hundreds of spreadsheets or paper forms.
Here are some examples where sophisticated forms are integrated with a flexible database:
- Water Utilities – Tracking chlorination and aerobic digestion processes with daily inputs/outputs with a monthly summary and chart and tracking well production across well fields.
- Water Utilities – Tracking periodic sewer discharges and water samples for permit compliance.
- Agriculture – Monitoring food processing equipment for compliance with optimum equipment opeating parameters for air permits.
- Pharmaceutical/Chemical Manufacturing Facilities – Tracking EHS daily, weekly, monthly, etc. investigations and in-house audits.
- Universities – tracking chemical inventories.
- Facility Engineering – Documenting O&M activities for groundwater treatment systems.
- Electric Utilities – Monitoring water/energy/gas usage from old-style meters for sustainability reporting with data entry validation.
- Refineries and Terminals – Collecting O&M, usage, and wastewater data.
If you still rely on paper forms and template spreadsheets and are ready to streamline your process and enhance the value of your data, give us a call and we can show you a range of options that will retire the paper forms for good!
[sc_vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_id=”829536455″ style=”default” position=”right”]
Wading through the labyrinth of data to calculate your ESG can be a daunting task. To ease your burden, Locus Technologies has created the Locus Calculation Visualizer, making the process easy. In this short video Steve Paff, Director of Sales Engineering, shows how easy it is to gain actionable insights into your reported ESG data.
For more information, click the link below.
[sc_button link=”https://www.locustec.com/blog/getting-started-with-esg/” text=”Learn more” link_target=”_self” color=”000000″ background_color=”52a6ea”]
[sc_vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_id=”827741964″ style=”default” position=”right”]
Data portability is something everyone uses and doesn’t think twice about. Without data portability, your data may be locked into separate silos that don’t communicate with each other. VP of Data Management and Visualization, Todd Pierce explains in this short video how Locus Technologies data portability can be available for all your data needs.
To see how a customized solution will work for your company, click the link below.
[sc_button link=”https://www.locustec.com/company/contact/” text=”Learn more” link_target=”_self” color=”000000″ background_color=”52a6ea”]
[sc_vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_id=”827408894″ style=”default” position=”right”]
While we now have easy-to-use tools for creating applications, you still need to define what you want to get out of the application you’re making. When you buy pre-configured software, you adapt your process to fit the constraints of the system you just bought. When you buy configurable software, you’re able to create the exact workflow that you need, but you have to first develop a complete understanding of what your needs actually are.
With flexible tools, it’s easy to try out different configurations with your team members. In this short video Director of Sales Engineering, Steve Paff, highlights Locus Software’s configurable hierarchy and how versatile it can be for you.
For more information, click here:
[sc_button link=”https://www.locustec.com/blog/configurable-software-solutions-change-good-right/” text=”Learn more” link_target=”_self” color=”000000″ background_color=”52a6ea”]
Locus delivers capabilities that enterprises need to achieve true digital transformation in a unified low-code or no-code automation platform. Locus provides out-of-the-box tools and services to automate business processes, integrate with external applications, and provide a rich user experience.
Locus offers low-code app building, rich multi-experience capabilities, business process orchestration, automated decision making, and easy integration with other databases. Locus makes it easy to modify existing seeded apps or build entirely new apps in a few clicks and provides easy ways to write business logic to solve challenging EHS or ESG problems. We let you blend “off the shelf” apps and unique requirements with exceptional ease.
Who is a User-Developer?
If you know how to layout slides, if you can draw a flow chart, build a spreadsheet using formulae, sorting, with tables and charts, then you are a User Developer. We empower domain experts to build applications within the Locus Platform using the platform’s drag and drop functionality.
What is No-Code Development Platform Software?
No-code development platforms provide drag-and-drop tools that enable end-users with proper access privileges to develop software quickly without coding. Locus Platform provides WYSIWYG editors and drag-and-drop components to rapidly assemble and design EHS, ESG, or any other application applications. Both developers and non-developers can use these tools to practice rapid application development with customized workflows and functionality. Locus Platform provides tools for enterprise-sized businesses that need to quickly design business processes and workflow applications at a large scale, such as ESG reporting or EHS compliance management. The software tools provide templates for workflow, element libraries, and interface customization to create fully functioning applications without any coding.
With Locus, your organization can:
- Drag-and-drop entities to assemble applications.
- Allow non-developers and non-technical users to build applications.
- Build ESG, EHS, or any other apps fast using visual tools that empower IT and business lines alike.
- Leverage no-code integration to connect and act upon data across databases, cloud services, and legacy systems without data migration or use APIs to tie in data.
- Deliver enterprise-grade security, scalability, and reliability to support mission-critical business apps.
- Easily build complex workflows to suit your organizations needs.
[sc_button link=”https://www.locustec.com/applications/ehs-compliance/custom-apps/” text=”More on Custom Apps” link_target=”_self” centered=”1″]
299 Fairchild Drive
Mountain View, CA 94043
P: +1 (650) 960-1640
F: +1 (415) 360-5889
Locus Technologies provides cloud-based environmental software and mobile solutions for EHS, sustainability management, GHG reporting, water quality management, risk management, and analytical, geologic, and ecologic environmental data management.