DCS Software

Standard Application Packages

System Management

Features include:

  • Display of equipment information for the station and its associated input/output devices, buses, and printers.
  • Capability for change actions directed to the associated equipment.
  • Processing of station alarm conditions and messages.

Database Management

Features include:

  • Storage, retrieval, and manipulation of system data files.
  • A run-time license for the embedded use of the Relational Database Management System.
  • A spreadsheet package.


Features include:

  • Maintenance of a history of values for process-related measurements that have been configured for retention by the Historian.
    • Maintenance of a history of application messages that have been sent to the Historian.
  • Maintenance of a history of alarms and error conditions which generate messages for the Historian.
  • Access to all Historian data by display and report application programs.

View Display Manager

Features include:

  • Presentation of the operating environment.
  • Setting of the overall operating environment according to the type of user. Process engineers, process operators, and software engineers have access to specialized functions and databases suited to their specific requirements and authorizations.
  • Dynamic and interactive process graphics.
  • Display and processing of current process alarms.
  • Group and default displays for control blocks.
  • Execution of embedded trending within displays.

Draw Display Builder

Features include:

  • Graphical display configuration for viewing and control of process operation.
  • Access to graphical object palettes allowing easy inclusion of pumps, tanks, valves, ISA symbols, and similar complex objects.
  • Ready modification of existing displays using a mouse pointer, menu items, and quick-access toolbars.
  • Association of process variables with objects in the displays
  • Dynamic variation of object attributes such as fill level, color, position, size and visibility with changes in the associated process variable.
  • Inclusion of operator control elements such as pushbuttons and sliders into displays.
  • A library of faceplates which may be configured by simply specifying the compound and block name of the block to which the faceplate is to be connected.

Alarm System

alarm manager

Alarm Manager provides an easy-to-use graphical interface of preconfigured alarm displays for viewing and quickly responding to process alarm conditions. The alarm display windows present alarm messages initiated by the control blocks and related to digital input, state change, absolute analog, deviation, rate of change, device status mismatch, and other alarm conditions.

Accessible from any environment, the Alarm Manager Display windows provide:

  • Quick, easy access to the most recent alarm messages via the Most Recent Alarm display or Current Alarm display
  • Alarm status and value information dynamically updated from the control station
  • Color-coded priority and status indicators that allow you to quickly focus in on critical alarms
  • Summary displays for different views of the alarm database based on alarm status
  • An historical list of alarms
  • The capability to view subsets of alarms based on specific user-defined criteria
  • The capability to silence or temporarily mute workstation and annunciator horns.
  • Secured access to alarming functions dependent on user or system responsibility

This set of resizable alarm displays providing a variety of current and historic views of the process alarm database includes:

  • A multi-page list of all the current alarms
  • A single page of the most recent, active, unacknowledged alarms with dynamically updating value and status fields
  • Three summary displays specific to alarm status also with updating values and statuses:
  1.  all active, unacknowledged alarms
  2.  all unacknowledged alarms that have returned to normal
  3.  all active, acknowledged alarms
  • A list of historized alarms related to the selected historian database
  • An operations display for silencing horns, temporarily muting horns, changing environments

These displays allow you to respond to alarm conditions, filter and analyze specific alarm data, and maintain alarm message files for reporting purposes.

The Process or Alarm button in the Display Manager (DM) window indicates the presence of alarms (both acknowledged and unacknowledged) and provides access to Alarm Manager Displays. Initially, the Current Alarm Display (CAD) appears and the other displays are easily accessible from the CAD via its default Displays menu:

  • Most Recent Alarm display (MRA)
  • New Alarm display (NEWALM)
  • Unacknowledged Alarms display (UNACK)
  • Acknowledged Alarms display (ACKALM)
  • Alarm History display (AHD)
  • Operations display (OPR)

These easy-to-use displays support the following features:

  • A pre-configured number of alarms per screen or page
  • Pre-configured alarm message information and formatting per alarm type
  • A status area for indication of current Alarm Manager and display status, such as horns muted, match active, display paused, initial call-up time
  • Buttons for responding to alarm conditions, such as acknowledging or clearing alarms, and for accessing additional alarm information and process displays
  • Pull-down menus for editing, viewing, and filing functions
  • A pull-down menu for accessing other displays
  • Pop-up menus for quick access to commonly used functions
  • A scroll bar and Go To Page option for moving easily through the alarm list

Although a preconfigured set of alarm displays is provided, many aspects of the displays and alarm message content are user configurable to accommodate different process control applications and operational needs. See the section on Alarm/Display Manager Configurator.


The Historian collects, stores, processes, and archives process data from the control system to provide data for trends, Statistical Process Control (SPC) charts, logs, reports, spreadsheets, and application programs. The Historian software is an easy-to-use data collection tool that allows the user to organize and enforce a plant data collection philosophy. The Historian provides extensive data collection and management functions, and data display functions for use by process engineers or operators.

Typical historical data are process analog and/or digital variables (points). The Historian can also collect and display application generated messages. You can use the Historian to collect data in support of the following production control functions:

  • Cost accounting
  • Equipment performance analysis
  • Historical trending
  • Information retrieval
  • Inventory management
  • Legal record maintenance
  • Lost time analysis
  • Maintenance reporting
  • Material accounting
  • Process analysis
  • Production reporting
  • Quality control

The Historian can:

  • Retrieve variables from process databases or accept data from production control databases maintained by user application programs.
  • Perform built-in calculations on the collected data.
  • Store calculated (reduced) data in a real time, relational database.

Application software in a plant-wide control system can access the Historian database to obtain historical data for process control, production control, and management information reporting.

You can use SPC chart displays of Historian data to monitor process variables on-line via the Statistical Process Control Package (SPCP). You can build displays for trending historical data via the Display Builder and Display Configurator with Trending software.

Using the Report Writer, you can generate detailed reports of historical data for management information.

Examples of Industrial Software that interface with the Historian are:

  • Batch Plant Management
  • Data Validator
  • Display Manager
  • Display Configurator with Trending
  • Object Manager (for process data histories)
  • Operator Action Journal
  • Operator Message Interface
  • Real-Time Data Base Manager
  • Spreadsheet
  • Statistical Process Control Package
  • System Monitor
  • Report Writer



Draw is a display builder and configurator that allow you to create and maintain dynamically updating process displays. Displays can represent the plant, a process area or a detailed portion of the process.

You can draw basic objects using Draw’s toolbars, menu items and shortcut keys. You assign graphic attributes such as color and line style to the objects, and then configure them to reflect process variable changes or operator actions. Draw includes numerous palettes of objects such as operator buttons, pumps, tanks, pipes, motors, valves and ISA symbols. You can also create your own palettes for storing complex objects and company-standard symbols. Displays can include faceplates, trends and bitmapped images. You can easily edit your displays to reflect changes in the process control scheme or to maximize operating efficiency and security.


There are two ways of configuring a display object. You can:

  1. Choose the Dynamic Update tab to connect one of the object’s attributes, such as visibility or fill level, to a process variable or a file. With this type of configuration, changes in an attribute are triggered dynamically by changes in the process variable. No operator intervention is necessary.
  2. Choose the Operator Action tab to connect the entire object to an action, such as opening a display or executing a command. An operator triggers the action by selecting the object.

An individual object can have both types of connections, although it can have only one operator action.

Operator Actions

In a display configured for operator action, an operator can trigger events by selecting an object (typically a button), moving a slider, or typing text or a numeric value. In response to an operator action, variables can be modified, a new display can open or an overlay can appear.

While you can configure only one operator action for each display object, you can trigger two or more events with a single operator action by configuring an object with a View display command script. Operator Actions include:

  • Open Display
  • Open Overlay
  • Close Display/Overlay
  • Display Command
  • Relative Pick
  • Momentary Contact
  • Ramp
  • Connect Variable
  • Move Horizontal or Vertical
  • Numeric/Text Entry


A faceplate is a dynamic representation of control block parameters. Draw provides a complete library of faceplates, ready to be connected to any control block in the control database. In addition, you can build your own faceplates using the standard Draw drawing tools.

To configure a faceplate, you need only define the Compound:block to which the faceplate is connected. Draw automatically determines the proper configuration attributes for the associated Compound:block.


Trend areas represent changing data values from the real-time database and historian database. A data is displayed as a series of plotted points connected by straight lines and scaled according to the high and low limits configured for each trend line.

Group Displays

Group displays allow you to group faceplates and trends into unique layouts to meet changing operational needs.



View is a window into the system software, providing a user-friendly interface to the total process. You can interact with any or all of the real-time plant, field, and process data available in the system. View provides:

  • Direct access to dynamic process displays.
  • Entry into user-configurable operating environments specific to each user – the process engineer, process operator, and software engineer.
  • Execution of embedded real-time and historical trending.
  • Service and display of process alarms via the Alarm Manager.
  • An overview of the compounds and blocks in the control database and access to block default detail displays via Select.
  • Access to other applications, such as:
  1. Draw software for building and configuring dynamic user graphics.
  2. System Management Displays for monitoring system equipment health.
  3. Integrated Control Configurator for configuring the control database.
  4. Historian for configuring the historization of data and system messages.
  5. Access to the four most recently used displays.

Additionally, with View you have:

  • Flexibility in customizing environments to conform to your site requirements.
  • Rapid access to View while in other applications.
  • Screen print utility.
  • Window sizing options.

The multi-window capability of Solaris and Windows NT operating systems allows you to monitor the information on a process control display as well as access other applications without closing any window.

View Window

View Window contains the following features:

  • A top menu bar for accessing displays, configurators, and other applications as specified by the environment.
  • A display bar of named display buttons or eight “thumbnail” mini-display buttons for directly accessing process displays.
  • A system bar with System and Process alarm buttons indicating system and process health; a message bar with a dropdown list of the latest messages; display of the current date and time.
  • A status bar indicating the current display name, current operating environment, Operator Action Journal logging name, printer logging name, Historian name.

Using the control window menu, you can:

  • Resize the View window automatically or manually.
  • Move the window.

Operating Environments

A collection of programs, utilities, and displays related to user tasks is provided for each of the following: process operator, process engineer, and software engineer. These environments, including menu bars, menu content, and Display Bar content, can be modified to conform to your site requirements. You can easily switch from one configured environment to another. To secure environments against unauthorized use, environment passwords can be configured and menu entries disabled based on the environment.

Operator Action Journal

The Operator Action Journal is a record of specific operator actions taken during process control operations. These actions generally consist of manipulating certain Control Processor, and gateway parameters as well as Application Processor, Application Workstation, and Workstation Processor shared variables. Actions of this type are the ramping or direct data entry of point values, toggling points, changing block statuses, acknowledging block alarms, and horn muting. Operator action reporting is limited to operator actions from the Display Manager, View, and Alarm Manager. Also logged are environment change actions, scripts, applics, and invoking other applications such as configuration.

When the Operator Action Journal feature is enabled, all operator actions within the Display Manager, View, and the Alarm Manager that change parameters in the process database are logged to a printer and/or to the specified Historian database. These operator actions include toggling points, ramping or direct data entry of new point values,

changing block statuses, acknowledging block alarms, and other actions such as horn muting.

Information logged as a result of each database change includes:

  • Name of the Display Manager, FoxView, or Alarm Manager that requested the database change.
  • Compound:Block.Point for which the change was made.
  • The “old value” TO “new value” text for non-packed Boolean.
  • Current mask and data value for packed Boolean/long.

Following is an example of an Operator Action Journal Report.

Operator Action Journal Report
Tue Aug 1 1997 17:04:05  Page1
08-02-97 07:57:08 GC3E31 SCRIPT /usr/fox/hi/init.cmds
08-02-97 07:57:15 GC3E31 ChgEnv Init_Env  ->Init_env
08-02-97 07:58:19 GC3E31 ChgEnv Init+Env  ->Proc_Eng_Env
08-02-97 08:00:34 CG3E31 UC01_LEAD :SINE .OUT 16.18 to 46.18
08-02-97 08:00:54 GC3E31 UC01_LEAD :SINE .MA Manual to Auto
08-02-97 08:00:57 GC3E31 UC01_LEAD :SINE .LR Remote to Local
08-02-97 08:01:01 GC3E31 UC01_LEAD :SINE .MA Auto to Manual

Control Configuration

Process control for DCS is based on the concepts of compounds and blocks. A compound is a logical collection of blocks that performs a control strategy. A block is a member of a set of algorithms that performs a certain control task within the compound structure. Figure below shows the compound/block relationship.

The compound provides the basis for the integration of:

  • Continuous control
  • Ladder logic
  • Sequential control.

Within this structure, any block in any compound can be connected to any other block in any other compound in the system. The entire compound structure can be viewed through the workstation display.

The block contains parameters that have values of the types: Real, Boolean, Packed Boolean, Boolean Long, Integer, or String.

Component block relationship

Compound Functions

The compound supports the following functions for the related blocks:

  • Process alarm priority, alarm inhibiting, and alarm grouping
  • Sequence status notification (see Sequential Control section)
  • Phasing for execution load leveling at execution time.

Compound/Block Process Alarming

Alarms and status messages are generated by specific alarm blocks and by alarm options in selected blocks. Alarms have five levels of priority, 1-5, (where 1 = highest priority) that enable you to quickly focus on the most important plant alarm conditions. An alarm priority of 0 indicates the absence of any alarm. These are summarized in a single alarm summary parameter for each compound. This parameter contains the priority of the highest current alarm in that compound. To reduce nuisance alarms, alarms can be inhibited at the compound level on a priority level basis. Alarms can also be inhibited at the block level, on either an alarm type basis, or an overall basis.

Alarms are initiated by the blocks within the compound. Alarm messages are then sent to groups of stations or applications (for example, Workstations, Historians, Printers) according to configured alarm groups. The UNACK alarm acknowledge output parameter allows the user to propagate alarm acknowledge actions to all blocks in a compound.

Stations, applications, and devices corresponding to various alarm destination groups are configured at the compound level or at the station level in the case of station compounds.

Group numbers for individual block alarm types are configured at the block level.

Compound/Block Phasing

A user-defined phase number can be assigned to each compound using a range of integer values that varies with assigned period. Phasing allows the starting time of one compound/block to lead or lag the starting time of another compound/block, thereby leveling the block processor load.

Compound Attributes

The compound has the following attributes:

  • Name: User-defined name that must be system-unique and no more than 12 characters in length. The name can be any mix of numeric (0 to 9), upper case alphabetic (A to Z), and the underscore (_).
  • Descriptor: 32-character field for user-defined identification.
  • On/Off: Parameter that enables or disables the execution of all

blocks within the compound, where: 1 = on; 0 = off.

Compound/Block Parameters

Compound and block parameters contain values that are of one of the types Real, String, Integer, Short Integer, Long Integer, Boolean, Packed Boolean, Packed Long, or Character. Additionally, parameters are defined as being configurable, and either connectable/settable, not connectable/not settable, or a combination that is dependent upon the compound, block, and state.

Configurable Parameters

Configurable parameters are those parameters that can be defined through the Integrated Control Configurator. They can be displayable only, or displayable and editable.

Connectable Parameters

Connectable parameters are those parameters of the user interface in which secured, change-driven connections may be made between network stations, or as local direct connections within the same station.

Each connection consists of a connectable source and a connectable sink. Output parameters (all outputs are connectable) are sources, while a connectable input may be a sink or a source, or both.

Certain parameters that may be considered functional inputs (such as SPT in the PID blocks, and RATIO in the RATIO block) are settable but not connectable. A connectable parameter has a value record that contains the parameter’s value, its status, and its designated value type (Real, Boolean, or Integer).

Input Parameters

Input parameters are connectable types that are the receivers of data from other connectable parameters via a path connection.

If no source path is specified during configuration, then the resident data of the value record is the actual “source” of data. It can be either the initial default or configured value, or a new value through a SET call to the input parameter.

If a source path is specified, then the data value is an output parameter of the same or another block, or a shared variable, thereby securing the input. By linking a shared variable to a block input during configuration, the user can establish a long-term secured connection between a remote application program and the block input.

Output Parameters

All output parameters are connectable data sources that have value records. There are two types: settable and nonsettable. The settability of a settable output is controlled by the secured status of the value record. The secured status is dependent on whether the block’s operational mode is in Auto or in Manual. In either Auto or Manual, nonsettable output parameters cannot be written by any other source under any conditions.

Settable outputs may be conditionally released by the block algorithm in the Manual mode. In Manual, the block unsecures settable output parameters. They can then be written by other tasks via SET calls. When the block switches to Auto, the block secures and updates its output parameter(s).

Nonconnectable Parameters

Nonconnectable parameters have no value records and are not linkable. They mainly consist of string-type variables like NAME, or nonsettable parameters that are used in the configurator only, for example, block options. Local algorithm variables are also nonconnectable. Nonconnectable parameters are generally accessible through GET calls.

There is also a class of nonconnectable input parameters that comprise the block user interface which can be manipulated through SET calls. An example is an alarm deadband.