09 April 2001
Batch business booming
The batch module sector is growing. Batch management modules fall into two major categories:
- Batch modules tied to traditional distributed control system (DCS) systems.
- Batch modules purely based on software packages, which interact with every kind of programmable logic controller (PLC) or DCS.
Batch modules inserted in DCS systems have these pluses:
- They are highly integrated with special management hardware.
- They can boast of having a widely installed base, even if such references are relative to applications built with prior modules or via the ad hoc programming of the specific DCS.
However, they also present the following negative factors:
- They can have rigid non-user-friendly programming environments where it is necessary for the DCS system programmer to intervene.
- No specific standard applies, as typically each DCS has its own approach.
- Recipes are not easily exportable to a higher system, and in general, there are communication problems with management or enterprise resource planning systems.
- Recipes are not portable from one plant to another if different control hardware is used.
Batch modules based on software packages present diametrically opposed features. They are, in fact, relatively recent packages. They have a great capacity to adapt to a flexible production environment. Furthermore, they typically make explicit reference to the standard ANSI/ISA-86.01-1995, Batch Control Part I: Models and Terminology model, thereby rendering the terminology and structure of proposed solutions uniform.