Flow - Information Consolidation & Collaboration Software

Empowering better decisions, more frequently, focused on the needs of industrial operations

Supporting, operating, and optimizing your industrial business requires that you know about problems before they ruin your day, week, month, quarter, or dare we say career? 

Since 1996, we've helped you get at the real time data in your operations, delivering it to HMI, SCADA, Historians, MES, in house custom applications and more.  

Flow is a software application for decision support that unifies data from historians, databases, business systems and helps you aggregate, calculate, visualize and collaborate on a single version of the truth, without custom software and complex configuration.

Software Toolbox is an authorized Flow Software partner focusing on the US, Canada, & Mexico

Flow Software Information Platform

 

SAMPLING OF FLOW APPLICATIONS

Here are just a few of the ways Flow is used.  The software is designed for applications where you need to bring together differing historical data sources and derive meaningful metrics to support industrial operation decision making. 

FEATURES & MORE

  • Industries
  • How Flow Works
  • Historian & Database Connections
  • Cloud and IoT Connections
  • Manual Data Entry
  • Aggregations & Calculations
  • Backfilling for Quick Results
  • Accountability & Data Versioning
  • Visualization
  • Collaboration - Mobile & More
  • Integrations - ERP, BI, MQTT & More
  • Templates
  • Enterprise Tiered Scalability
  • Security

Flow is used in a wide range of industries

  • Food and beverage
  • Consumer packaged goods
  • Mining
  • Metal processing
  • Oil & Gas
  • Utilities
  • Renewable energy
  • Healthcare

Users that trust Flow

 

Flow Collaborates to Get the Job Done

Flow was born out of the frustration of users integrating data manually, with spreadsheets, and custom code and eventually running into the limitations of those systems. 

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  1. Collect data simultaneously from multiple disparate data sources
  2. Data is indexed, aggregated, and structured in Flow and results stored in the Flow database, ready for further use
  3. Calculation engine uses aggregated data stored in Flow to create additional KPIs and store those in flow. Data can be rolled up and contextualized by production and other events.
  4. Visualize, Notify, and Collaborate via charts and dashboards 
  5. Notify via Flow Mobile email, SMS, Slack, etc.
  6. Integrate with ERP, BI, cloud, MQTT, and more. 

Flexible historical data sources

  • OPC HDA Historians
  • OPC UA Historians
  • Aveva (Wonderware) Historian
  • Aveva Insight (Wonderware Online)
  • Aveva (Wonderware) InTouch Local History (*.lgh files)
  • Inductive Automation Historian
  • Canary Historian
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL

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Flexible Cloud Choices

Data sources

  • RESTful web services
  • Metering Online cloud energy system

Upstream Integration

  • MQTT - Sparkplug B, Custom, or Flow topic and payload definitions
  • With Sparkplug B, the Flow model namespace is automatically made available for any client that can consume Sparkplug B definitions. 

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Because not everything can be automated and things can still go wrong!

We know that you have important data that you just can't get to through digital integration yet. Flow enables you to create measures that are sourced through a brower-based, spreadsheet like user interface, and later convert those measures to automated data collection. 

Manual data entry is also be used for authenticated, commented, audit-logged update of automatically collected data, when things go wrong at the data source.

Flow Browser Based Data Entry With Revision Tracking

 

Making sense of raw data

The Flow Calculations engine, the measures you create using it, the events and flexible production schedules/shifts that provide context, is where the power of Flow lives. 

Aggregations, automatically performed at the levels you want as time passes - hourly, shiftly, daily, weekly, quarterly, and annually - ensure the right data is already there when someone needs it. No waiting to reach back to historians and databases when you want an answer!

Calculations using the same common functions found in a spreadsheet along with user defined functions, including calculations that combine measures, give your data meaning. 

Flow Measure Report and Functions

 

No need to wait to build up a data set - Backfill!

Flow is able to deliver fast value because as long as your historical data sources - historians, databases, etc - have the data for your time range of interest, Flow can backfill it's aggregated and calculated data at configuration time or any time in the future. And when you backfill, the system keeps on working while the backfill runs as the Flow Engine works in the background at a pace you control. 

This means you could build a set of Flow measures, and quickly have data going back days, weeks, months, or more, which is helpful in validating your results, but also providing the instant ability to compare this week to last, this month to last, this month to same month a year ago, and more. 

Flow also automatically backfills measures that depend on other measures when those measures change. Through Flow's data versioning you'll be able to know that the values were updated and why. 

Lastly, if a historical data source is offline, and then comes back, Flow will automatically "catch up" on the collection measure and all dependent measures. 

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Who did it? 

A big challenge with spreadsheet models is when users change something. You don't know who did it, when they did it, unless they remember to leave a comment.  And if they break the model in the spreadsheet then what? 

With Flow, through it's Active Directory Integration and user permissions, there is accountability on all configuration changes and manual data entry. 

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If a measure or event value is updated through backfilling, or configuration change, you'll be able to see past versions of the data, even revert back to those past versions if you have sufficient permissions.  

If the person making a change leaves a comment you'll have that as well. 

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Extensive visual dashboards for Flow Data and more

Flow supports a wide range of types of tables, charts, widgets, gauges, and more. When you build a visual report in Flow, you can then combine those into a dashboard page, and then combine dashboard pages into dashboard loops, keeping everyone informed. 

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Staying together as a team

Flow Mobile for iOS and AndroidTo keep your team working together, all using the single version of the truth that you build, Flow offers these capabilities to deliver data, dashboards and more. 

  • Free IoS and Android Mobile App 
    • Report and dashboard views
    • Instant messaging between users with Flow storing the message history 
  • Email notifications
  • Slack
  • UNC file drop
  • BulkSMS
  • Twilio

Integrated collaboration with other systems

Once you've configured your Flow system, you'll have some great aggregated, meaningful data in your measures and reports. We're sure you will want to share that with other systems, so Flow has built in Data Consumers that automatically deliver calculated results to others without programming or integration middleware.

  • ERP
  • SQL
  • BI (Business Intelligence)
  • Machine Learning
  • Cloud via MQTT
  • Other Flow systems in a tiered architecture

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Scale your configuration with management templates

Many applications have multiple instances of the same type of metric, KPI, or other measure. To enforce standards and aid in rapid time to value deployment, Flow supports templates for measures, metrics, and folders, for use within a single Flow application and across multiple sites.

Templates can be locked to help enforce standards and roll out updates, even between sites.  In multi-tiered applications you can designate a Flow system to be the "Template Server" to support your standards efforts. 

Templates can be derived from other templates and thus linked so that derived templates can be synchronized with their parent template when there are changes. 

Flow Templates Drive Scalable Configuration

 

Ready for distributed organizations and teams

Flow is ready for companies with multiple sites, the need for roll-up of information and the potential complexities that brings.  Managed templates help enforce standards and provide configuration scalability.

Unlimited users, reports, charts, dashboards, data source types, data consumer integration types, and notification messages empower all to be "in the know" as required.

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Windows Integrated Security

Flow's information portal supports http: and https: as well as TLS connections between the Flow Configuration app and Flow Application server. 

Flow security integrates with Active Directory and enables you to limit usage at two levels and provides an audit trail of configuration changes. 

  1. Restrict configuration functionality by user and group
  2. Secure forms, reports, and dashboards by user and group

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RESOURCES

  • What are Measures?
  • What are Events?
  • Videos
  • Documentation
  • System Requirements

Measures - Time Series Data Building Blocks

A Measure in Flow Software is a KPI or metric you configure to collect and calculate information. Examples include volume produced, units produced, electricity used, production waste, production cost, efficiency, OEE, etc.  

A Measure slices or aggregates your data into defined Calendar "time buckets" - hourly, shiftly, daily, etc. 

Events: Delivering the non-time series context to your time series data

An Event in Flow Software is a value you retrieve from one of your data sources that you use to detect start and end of event periods that don't fall on even time intervals like hours, shifts, days, etc. 

Examples include batch running, machine state, downtime, production runs, product being produced, work order, shift team, etc. 

Events provide added context to your time series data and are key to making the intersection between historian and business information. 

Helping you get started quickly with Flow

To assist you in learning flow, in addition to the Training Manual, we have a series of videos that walk you through a Flow system configuration. 

View the video training

 

Flow Training and Resource Manual

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The Flow Training and Resource Manual provides 30 step-by-step hands on tutorials to guide you through installation, building a basic system, building basic reports, sending notifications and more.  DOWNLOAD YOUR GUIDE

 

 

Operating System, Hardware, Software Requirements

Please visit our full FAQ for how to properly size a system. In general, though, here are basic requirements

What Flow Users Have to Say

AB_InBev

We initially used Flow for energy and water reporting but it has since grown and is being used for multiple KPIs across our breweries. No scripting experience required. Drag, drop and select what you want! It has removed the need for specialist development and has delivered an agile solution.

- Stuart Yates, Supply Chain and Technical Africa

Exxaro

You have built Excel into an automation platform.

- Louis Steyn, Exxaro Engineering Manager GMEP

SAB

Flow enables one to react quickly when things start to get out of control

- Henko Venter, Manufacturing Systems Manager

Get Started Now

The demo software is fully functioning for 30 days for up to 100 measures and 10 events. Systems built with trial software can be put into production by purchasing a Flow license.

Connect with Us

1-888-665-3678 (US + Canada toll free)
+1-704-849-2773 (Global)
support.softwaretoolbox.com