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ProcessLine: Visualizing Time-Series Data in Process Industry

Xiongfei Luo1,2, Hongan Wang2,3, Feng Tian2 Wei Liu1, Dongxing Teng2, Guozhong Dai2,3
1: Graduate University, 3: State Key Lab. Of Computer Science,
2: Institute of Software, Institute of Software,
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

time-series data. ProcessLine combines multiple effective


ABSTRACT visualization techniques to display the data at multiple levels of
In modern process industry, it is often difficult to analyze a detail. And we used animation to convey the data selection
manufacture process due to its numerous time-series data. changes through time. Furthermore, we also provided interactive
Analysts wish to not only interpret the evolution of data over time techniques to support the manufacture data analysis in a visual
in a working procedure, but also examine the changes in the way. We applied our prototype to an application of a beer industry,
whole production process through time. To meet such analytic and the result showed that it is useful for effective visual analysis
requirements, we have developed ProcessLine, an interactive in such a complex application area. The system can be also used
visualization tool for a large amount of time-series data in process in other application areas, e.g., other process enterprises or
industry. The data are displayed in a fisheye timeline. ProcessLine drainage area environment.
provides good overviews for the whole production process and
details for the focused working procedure. A preliminary user 2 MANUFACTURE ANALYSIS
study using beer industry production data has shown that the tool In this section, we take beer industry as an example of process
is effective. industry to introduce manufacture process, data and associated
analytic tasks.
KEYWORDS: Visual analytics, Time-series data, Business Beer industry is a typical process industry. In our sample beer
visualization, Visual design industry, the whole manufacture process is divided into 5 working
procedures: gelatinization, saccharification, fermenting, filtering
INDEX TERMS: H.1.2[User/Machine Systems]: Human and filling. The time span for a whole production process is about
information processing – Visual Analytics; I.6.9 [Visualization]: 30 days, and the scale for time-series data of beer production is
information visualization. H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and minute.
Presentation]: User Interfaces—Graphical user interfaces The data contains production logistics, unit operation, and
quality test data during the manufacture process of beer.
1 INTRODUCTION Production logistics data is used for describing logistic processes
within an industry. It is composed of working procedure data with
Process analysts are responsible for 1) monitoring the process to
the preceding-posterior relationships among units and production
determine which unit manufactures defective products and 2)
data that describes a Unit U is working for a product P from time
examining whether the unit is operated correctly. To achieve these
Tstart to time Tend. Unit operation data is used for describing unit
goals, analysts analyze a large amount of time-series data, which
operation event including the operation action, timestamp,
comprises production logistics, unit operation, and quality test
operated unit. Quality test data focus on product quality. The
data. The data is usually collected through various enterprise
quality of production will be tested at critical control points of
application systems in the manufacture process of modern process
manufacture process according to quality standards.
industry. The key challenge for process analysts is to identify the
In collaboration with a senior analyst, we started with task
evolution of data over time. To achieve this target, many analysts
analysis. We found that the main user task is track and tracing that
still rely on traditional line charts. However, such charts hardly
trys to know what is going on in the whole manufacture process.
help analysts to analyze the manufacture process efficiently with
There are at least three challenges in designing such a tool. Firstly,
the increasing scale and complexity. Currently, few visualization
it should support establishing a direct visual connection between
techniques used in process analysis applications. One of them is
multiple variables and the time axis, and enable direct interactive
McNames’s work, [1], which described a graphical display of
exploration and browsing of time-series data, which is essential
semiconductor manufacturing processes. They aimed to identify
for a successful visual analysis [2]. Secondly, it should be scalable
which tools in the process cause the most parametric variation and
enough to handle a large amount of time series while remaining
the worst yield.
interactive. Thirdly, it should be cognitively tractable: allowing
To meet the data and analytic requirements, we have developed
the analyst to explore complex associations such as those that can
ProcessLine, an interactive visualization tool for a large amount of
be derived from temporal entities and their relationships. We
address these challenges through the design and implementation
of ProcessLine.
y Xiongfei Luo: lxf@iel.iscas.ac.cn
y Hongan Wang: wha@iel.iscas.ac.cn 3 PROCESSLINE
y Feng Tian: tf@iel.iscas.ac.cn
y Wei Liu: water_wei@263.net Visually, the ProcessLine interface is composed of three major
y Dongxing Teng: tengdongxing@ios.cn parts: a DOILine, a Fisheye TimeSlider, and a search interface.
y Guozhong Dai: dgz@iel.iscas.ac.cn DOILine (see figure 1a) is a main part of ProcessLine and is
used to display a snapshot of a manufacture process. In order to
accommodate larger timelines and more content in the nodes, we
IEEE Symposium on Visual Analytics Science and Technology combined the ideas of LifeLines [3], logical filtering [4],
October 12 - 13, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
978-1-4244-5283-5/09/$25.00 ©2009 IEEE geometrical distortion [5] and cluster nodes far from the point of

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Figure 1: The exploration of time-series data in beer industry using the ProcessLine prototype.

focus [6] to determine how to show a focus + context timeline. result shows that ProcessLine is an effective and valuable tool to
Fisheye TimeSlider (see figure 1b) is much like a standard analyze manufacture process. In the future, a formal evaluation
slider widget and provides a fisheye time axis. It divides DOILine will be conducted.
into three types of zones horizontally: the regular free layout zone, The visualization and analysis techniques described in this
the compression zone, and the aggregation zone. paper can be applied to various fields of process industry, such as
Search interface (see figure 1c) provides a function of finding oil refinery industry manufacture analysis, and the drainage area
rather than discovering information. It supports keyword search environment analysis.
against time-series data.
Then we choose a simple usage scenario to highlight the visual ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
analysis ability of ProcessLine. An analyzer was supposed to track This project is supported by the National Basic Research Program
the process for unit “F11#”. Initially, He clicked on node “F11#”, of China under Grant No. 2006CB303105; the National High-
and ProcessLine reacted to the click by expanding the clicked Tech Research and Development Plan of China under Grant No.
node. Then he found the time span of whole process was fit within 2006AA04Z182. We would like to acknowledge Yingying Jiang
the space. And the focused filling procedure, adjacent procedures and Fei Lv, Intelligence Engineering Lab., Institute of Software,
and far procedures were displayed at the free layout zone, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
compression zones and aggregation zones respectively. Splitters
between different zones helped him comprehend these larger and REFERENCES
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