01 January 2005
Walking the talk from manufacturing to business systems.
By Ellen Fussell
Reconciling plant floor system information with business information is the biggest benefit manufacturers find in the ISA-95 enterprise and control integration standard, especially those in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries, where Parts 1 and 2 have been streamlining paper processes into real-time automated processes and skyrocketing productivity. Now, with Part 3 in the mix, these companies can reap the rewards of new manufacturing execution systems (MES) to help meet FDA requirements with tracking and traceability.
"For years, when the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system would cut a work order, it would be paper based—going from one bucket from the front office to the back office, where the manufacturing took place. So there would be a disconnect between the two," said Yves Dufort, director of services for Wonderware in Montreal, Canada. "The only way you'd know of the output from manufacturing would be through finished goods."
Dufort called this disconnect a black hole of information between the business system's work order and the finished goods that show up in the warehouse. " The ISA-95 standard exposes all this information that nobody really had a good handle on—until now. And it exposes it in real time to the business systems," he said.
Dufort said there is a "massive adoption" of the standard in the industry. "Part 1 has to do mostly with where you should apply the basic definition. It defines what functions it can be applied against. Part 2 is really where the rubber hits the road," he said. "It is the standard itself—the granular information and structure—the way you will exchange documents and information." (See related story below.)
It helps you interpret the different fields or elements you'll be exchanging with the ERP systems and the shop floor. "And that's really what we're using in a day-to-day scenario," he said.
Two companies taking big leaps with the standard are Arla Foods, a dairy food producer headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark, and Nutramax Manufacturing, Inc., a dietary supplement manufacturer in Edgewood, Md.
"The advantage is more than anything the common language benefit we see as SAP [a software company providing ERP, supply chain, and product life cycle (PLM) solutions] is entering the scene, because now we're talking the same language across companies, not just inside each company. And we're using the same architectures to a higher level," said Arne Svendsen, production IT manager at Arla Foods.
With Nutramax, in terms of the production dispatching, the standard is helping figure out how to create work orders and issue them to the plant floor. Inside the process at Nutramax, customers place orders to buy glucosamine, a cartilage-building supplement for arthritis sufferers, with retailers such as Costco or Wal-Mart. The process here involves event resource planning systems—helping determine if the manufacturer can fulfill an order coming from Wal-Mart based on its actual inventory.
While you might be able to fulfill a Wal-Mart order with existing inventory from a distribution point in Denver, you might not have enough inventory for the order from Costco in New York. "So you need to trigger a production order to bring inventory levels up to a certain point," Dufort said. "That's when the ERP system will plan a work order. This is the trigger point—once the ERP system determines the work order, it needs to pass the baton down to the operational or the manufacturing side. That's where ISA-95 kicks in and does its magic—transforming the order from the ERP world into a manufacturing world," he said. "So the production order goes straight to the operator seamlessly, without any manual intervention."
Nutramax and Arla aren't the only companies cashing in on the standard said Cary, N.C.-based BR&L president Dennis Brandl. Nestle and P&G have been using Parts 1 and 2 for a while, he said. And several vendors have incorporated Parts 1 and 2 into their software—Invensys Wonderware, AspenTech, and Siemens are a few. "The hoped-for benefit of doing that is better integration between all the different systems that exist on the factory floor and the business systems," Brandl said. SAP is also supporting the effort and working to provide Part 1 and Part 2 compliant interfaces. "The World Batch Forum (WBF) group built XML schemas based on Parts 1 and 2 of the standard," Brandl said. "And SAP is talking about supporting those schemas in their interface."
Nestle and Arla have a central SAP instance that basically drives all the operations and business needs across the world, DuFort said. In one scenario, Nestle could ask the shop-floor system or operator in its Singapore plant to perform a specific test request on a particular lot of a product to a customer. A SAP system in Switzerland needs to initiate the information to be sent over the wire to the Singapore office. It will ask the operator for a quality test on a particular lot. That all gets marshaled through the ISA-95 standard—all the way down to the operator that just got the request to do a quality test on that particular lot. The operator gets his instructions from the human machine interface (HMI) visualization tool—computer screen—the operator sees. The operator does his tests, enters the results in the HMI, and then just hits the send button, which will take the quality test request and send a quality test response back to the SAP instance in Switzerland.
Arla uses the ISA-95 standard to drive synchronization between business systems and shop-floor systems when making their milk-based products, Dufort said. "In making these products, they can expect to consume material through time. SAP requires manufacturers to report consumption as it takes place on the shop floor because some of those batches take a long time to execute. They may take several hours but have multiple batches in several areas," he said. "They need to know how much milk was consumed for that work order. All that consumption takes place on the shop floor. But through the ISA-95 standard, it's reported back through the SAP central instance."
The most concrete example of how the standard has helped Arla is "probably on the business to manufacturing markup language (B2MML) side, where we've had one solution running since February," Svendsen said. Dufort said B2MML is simply taking XML documents and defining them in a business to manufacturing world.
"We're now moving to the other three sites with different vendors on the MES side," said Svendsen. "It's a big advantage for us already in the specification phase to have a language to talk. I'm very convinced, now that SAP has entered the scene and is supporting us with generic mappings for their XI engine to talk B2MML, that we can dramatically reduce the time to integrate between SAP and MES." Svendsen said Arla, like many enterprises, has a large number of manufacturing sites, "all of which produce their specialty product and follow their own manufacturing operations.
Svendsen said with the connection of the globalized business processes on the ERP level and the localized manufacturing operations, so much calls for the standards effort from ISA-95. "I'm sure SAP is now boosting the process to broad acceptance," he said. But the big need is "for users to take time to help each other on implementation methods—standard ways of documenting B2MML projects, offering good examples of using Part 3 in very down-to-earth practical ways," he said.
"The problem is most manufactures don't have time to lift their own specific experience to general guidelines to be helpful for other customers," he said.
Part 3 and FDA requirements
Because of new FDA requirements for tracking and traceability, the Bioterrorism Act says if the government requests a manufacturer to provide information on what products went into another product, they have to respond in eight hours or less, said Brandl. "That'll require automated systems. Nobody thinks they can handle that in a manual fashion," he said. "So people are looking to put in automated systems to do production and product tracking." Part 3 of the ISA-95 standard helps define requirements for tracking and tracing, to identify where all raw materials came from and in what order they were put together. What actions took place while making the product, and where was it shipped? These are also requirements of the Bioterrorism Act.
The generic model of the Part 3 standard is breaking ground with brewers, food processors, gas and utilities, and pharmaceutical companies to define their requirements. Once they've redefined their requirements, they're further using it to go out and find vendors who provide technology to fulfill those requirements. So they use the same generic model to identify a preferred supplier of a solution, Dufort said. In improving their MES systems, companies are using the tasks defined and documented in the standard as requirements for systems they want vendors to supply. Some tasks include finite capacity scheduling and rescheduling of missed production.
Part 3 is very close to being published—possibly by March 2005, said Keith Unger, chairman of ISA's SP95 committee. "Even though it's not approved, it's close enough that many end users have seen benefits by using the standard in draft form as a framework for defining their requirements for manufacturing information technology software," Unger said.
The most significant thing about Part 3 is "it's a brand new model for MES, and it's very encompassing, in that it defines or documents over 80% of the functions that exist in any manufacturing plant," DuFort said. "It allows companies to compare their operations from site to site and to benchmark their operations against other companies' operations."
Arla will use Part 3 to try and do a mapping of business requirements over to a manufacturing operations structure, Svendsen said. They hope to be better able to decide where to invest in production IT and to have a "better link between business goals and needed investments in Production IT—in a structured and easily understandable way."
ISA-95 in a nutshell
"Many companies I've worked with are trying to define quality systems they're putting in place," said Keith Unger, principal business consultant at Rockwell Automation in Sugar Hill, Ga., and chairman of ISA's SP95 committee.
"From the quality of definitions to resource management to scheduling of execution of tests to analysis of product quality, any requirement an end user would have, they can use ISA-95 to organize their thoughts in a standard way. So the real benefit is they don't leave something out (of the process)," he said.
Sometimes end users will focus on executing quality tests, Unger said. "But they may not think about the fact that before they can execute those tests, they have to define them. They'll have a complete set of definitions if they follow the standard," he said "And those requirements will be categorized in a way the manufacturer can now go out to the suppliers in technology and match their requirements to what the suppliers offer as a solution."
Parts 1 and 2 define the interfaces between the business and manufacturing. Those are product definition, production capability, production schedule, and production performance. They also define the object models that support those interfaces. What does the data model or the object model look like to support those interfaces?
Based on those two standards, a group of people working under the World Batch Forum (WBF) have built an implementation of the standard based on XML known as business to manufacturing markup language (B2MML). "That's what Arla (Foods) and Nestle right now are focused on—to implement actual projects that tie their enterprise system to manufacturing using that B2MML implementation of the ISA-95 standard," Unger said. "And the benefit people are seeing from that is significant reduction in the time it takes to integrate those solutions."
SAP is taking advantage of B2MML interface to implement projects faster. There are those that are truly integrating their business systems to manufacturing systems; and they are using Parts 1 and 2 at the resulting B2MML to get it accomplished. Part 3 is defining what's inside manufacturing. The people using that are those who are investing in new systems, those who want to define requirements and select technology to implement what's in manufacturing.
"The suppliers—companies like Rockwell, Wonderware, Siemens, Emerson, and AspenTech—are building their solutions around the standard for two reasons—to meet their clients' needs and to make sure solutions have the same issue as an end user if they're out buying technology to integrate those solutions," Unger said. "So that's what Part 3 helps them do."