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One of the industry’s best-kept secrets, but not anymore
By Bill Lydon, Editor
I recently had the opportunity to discuss Ocean Data Systems – a little company you likely have never heard of – with Roy Kok, their VP of Sales and Marketing. Their product, Dream Report, is OEMed by a number of well-known software providers. Kok is an experienced industry person that I have known for years. Here is a synopsis of my interview with Kok.
Question – We recently received your press release about joining Ocean Data Systems, and frankly, I don’t know much about the company. Tell me a little about the company, and why you joined them.
Roy Kok– I’m getting that a lot! Let me begin with the why. I discovered Ocean Data Systems (ODS) several months ago, while I was heading up Marketing at the ARC Advisory Group. You can imagine the view of the world that ARC offers through interaction with their analysts and client relationships. Based on my years of automation industry experience, I quickly became passionate about the ODS product, and the benefits Dream Report software brings to the market. I also recognized that this is an opportunity of a lifetime for me, to have discovered a product this capable and this mature, that few, outside of the very targeted sales channels that Ocean Data has developed to date, know about it. The product is the result of a great team of engineers, focused on delivering the best possible solution for automated report generation and data analysis, and for every conceivable market.
Question – How is the software used?
Roy Kok– There are 4 basic stages to setting up automated reports.
1) Identify your data sources. Dream Report currently offers over 60 connectors, to a wide range of data sources. These connectors fall into two categories – Real-time and Historian, and are either specific interfaces (MODBUS, BACnet, SNMP, and protocols for Wonderware InTouch and Historian, iFIX and iHistorian, OSI-PI, Aspen Tech, among any others), Open Industry Standards (OPC DA, OPC AE, OPC HDA) and business – Relational Database standards, Oracle, MySQL, OLE-DB, ODBC, etc.
2) A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) development environment gives you powerful analytic objects to acquire data from our various connectors and beautifully and simply formats one or more reports the way you would like to see them. You can drop in logos, backgrounds and choose from a variety of our report “Widgets” (Trends, Tables, Bar Graphs, Pie Charts, Bar Codes, etc.) for the report formatting. You have powerful analytics from averages, min, max to complex calculations for OEE, Heat Treat Soak Time calculations, Building Efficiency objects, Life Sciences Validation Reports). Dream Report handles headers, footers, pagination, etc. for you. You can create report templates for use with different input data sets. Create a report once and reuse it across your manufacturing lines, pieces of equipment, etc. You have Template locking – a feature that enables System Integrators or OEMs to add value and protect their intellectual property. And the software incorporates version management on report templates with roll forward and backward.
3) When reports are generated based on time – or event – or manually, you need to decide what to do with them. That can include printing to one or more devices – with features like failover from one printer to another if paper is out or there is a more significant problem, PDF generation with security and encryption – feature locking (no copy, no print, etc.). You can auto-generate reports – auto name them based on Batch IDs or Date-Time or any combination of text and data. Dream Report can auto-generate and auto-name directory structures for report storage. It can FTP Reports and Email reports.
4) And you have the ability to interact with reports. This includes manual data entry, a Web Portal for viewing reports, selecting reports and retriggering reports – choosing new input data sets, batch IDs or time periods. Report controls can be from a Web Portal, or embedded into HMI/SCADA displays for a fully integrated operator experience.
The result of all this is a purpose built “Industrial Strength” reporting and data analysis solution that can be applied in any application and any industry.
Dream Report Web Portal
Question – You say that Dream Report applies to all markets and applications. Can you give me some examples of that?
Roy Kok– Today, we have an installed base of over 5,000 licenses in applications including: Automotive Manufacturing, Building Automation, Manufacturing of Consumer Package Goods, Life Sciences (Pharmaceutical and BioTech), Metals, Mining, Military, Oil – Gas and Power, Generation and Distribution, Renewables (Photovoltaic, Solar, Wind, Hydro), Water and Wastewater. To address some of these, Ocean Data Systems has added special support based on customer feedback. For example, 21CFRPart11 support for Life Sciences. We offer Building Efficiency Calculations and specialized Data Drivers for Building Automation Systems (BAS) and Facility Management Systems (FMS). There are lots more examples of our purpose built functionality to address specific vertical markets.
Dream Report Building Energy Efficiency
Question – What is the history of the company?
Roy Kok– Ocean Data Systems was founded in 2005, and the product has been through 18 product releases to date. We’ve estimated it has close to 100 man years of development if you combine our efforts and include the feedback of our closest partners and users. This product development is driven by both our strategic goals and to a very high degree, the feedback of our customers. That teamwork has made Dream Report the exceptional and unique product it is today.
Question – Tell me about your competition. What are the alternatives to Dream Report?
Roy Kok– Great question. They fall into two categories. We see a variety of vendor solutions, usually developed to satisfy customer criteria. Vendors, will say, “Reports – oh yes – our xyz product has an Excel Plug-in for that.” Often times these solutions are crude, difficult to use and offer minimal functionality to just get that checkbox. By the way, if your goal is to put data into Excel, Dream Report does that too.
Secondly, users also attempt to apply other business class solutions, for example SAP’s Crystal Reports or Microsoft’s SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). These are good products that are being misapplied in 24x7x365 critical automation applications. They don’t offer the data source connectivity of Dream Report and they don’t offer the purpose built functionality or the ease of use. They don’t integrate into existing automation solutions for an optimized end user or operator experience. And of equal importance, they don’t come from a company that understands the needs of this market and will react to the special requirements of Industry and Automation. Ocean Data Systems has a long history of listening to and supporting our customers with a hands-on approach in all the markets I noted previously. This is what we do, and we are the best at it.
Question – This sounds like an exciting product for many applications. What does the future look like?
Roy Kok– We are at an inflection point with Ocean Data Systems. We have an incredible product. We have flagship OEMs like Invensys (Wonderware, Eurotherm, InduSoft), and ARC Informatique (PcVue) among others. We are planning some great new functionality in our upcoming releases. But honestly, right now, it is all about marketing and making sure the world knows about the features and benefits of this “Automated Reporting – Best Kept Secret”. That is my task – and a very exciting one too. Of course, we’ll be focusing on additional OEMs and building out our channel to market.
We’ve recently joined the OPC Foundation, to ensure we stay on top of the latest technology for interoperability and have access to domain experts. We’ve joined the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA), so that we can highlight and educate the world of system integration to the capabilities and value added opportunities our product delivers. Dream Report is a wonderful solution for Integrators to deliver to their customers. At a time where companies are looking to become more competitive through increased quality, improved performance, reduced risk or downtime, customers should leverage Dream Report to proactively deliver information to those that can take action. Automated reporting should be a part of every automation strategy, and not just viewed as a compliance requirement. Automated reporting and delivery removes the “Out of Sight – Out of Mind” phenomena that hampers continuous improvement in organizations. I believe Dream Report will become the standard for automated reporting and data analysis in industry – how’s that for a goal…
Question – How can people learn more about Ocean Data Systems and Dream Report?
Roy Kok– Our Website is www.DreamReport.net. We have our product available as a free download, fully functional with a 2 hour run-time limit. We encourage people to download it and give it a try. It truly is as powerful and easy to use as I’ve highlighted. To purchase a license, users can contact their local system integrator or one of our OEMs, or contact Ocean Data directly and we will point them in the right direction. If I can be of assistance, I can be contacted atRoy.Kok@DreamReport.net.