New ISA book boosts automation ideas
Books about automation have been around for years, but a new idea is burgeoning in the automation publishing world, bringing automation to the forefront of industrial thinking and making high-level ideas easier to understand. Now it is all about the why and how behind automation, in addition to the mere what.
Bianca Scholten is one author who understands the importance of why; in her new book, MES Guide for Executives, she explains the reasons behind manufacturing execution systems. If you are having trouble explaining to your management what a manufacturing execution system (MES) is and what it can do for your company, Scholten’s book explains not only why but how to select, implement, and maintain an MES.
“In recent decades, industrial companies have invested much time and money in not only machine and production line automation, but also enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems,” the author said in the book’s introduction. “The MES falls between these two layers. Many plants rely on outdated methods for both preparatory activities (such as detailed production scheduling and recipe management) and retrospective activities (such as data collection, reporting, and analysis). MES can provide an effective remedy to this time-consuming, error-prone situation.”
Scholten explains how in these primitive methods, plant owners use MS Excel for their detailed scheduling and reports, and MS Word to manage operator instruction s and recipes. “When there are advanced applications available, these come from various vendors and are not integrated,” she said. Such an outdated situation leads to problems, such as no insight into the current production situation on the management and supervisory level.
In selecting MES systems, manufacturing companies can experience functionality overlap between various vendors’ packages. Without the tools to help them decide, they are likely to make unfortunate choices. “They’ve interwoven their ERP and MES layers like spaghetti,” she said. “As a result, when they buy a new plant, they have to untangle the entire ball of spaghetti—even if the new plant has its own, well-functioning MES system that could very easily have been integrated with the ERP layer if the boundary between them had been chosen more logically.”
Find our more Scholten’s book at www.isa.org/books.