1 April 2006
Supply Chain Integration
Standards allow ERP, MES to effectively exchange key data
By David Cornell
External information exchange with customers has long been a priority at Procter & Gamble. While that exchange continues to be a main focus, the company also knew to finally achieve cost savings and improvement in the supply chain, it needed to exchange information accurately and much more quickly among all information systems within Procter & Gamble.
This includes information exchange among Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) systems, the focus of the S95 standard. Business to Manufacturing Markup Language (B2MML), the Extensible Markup Language (XML) implementation of S95, is also becoming more widely accepted.
P&G is just one example of a company striving to gain a foothold in controlling costs and increasing productivity in its supply chain. These technologies and standards can apply to other manufacturing industries.
P&G gained significant progress with the deployment of the S95 standard via B2MML. The pilot of B2MML production schedule download from ERP and production performance upload to ERP with the Fabric and Home Care Business's internally developed MES system was successful. In addition, a prototype in the Family Care business that used the same production schedule download into P&G's key MES application also succeeded. It, too, is expanding in that business.
More importantly, P&G's ERP vendor, embraced the S95 standard and B2MML. They initiated a series of working group meetings to solicit customer and MES vendor input to their S95 development. In addition, P&G's MES vendor started development of an XML S95 interface to its MES application.
P&G is now expanding the scope of its S95 implementation by adding new messages and including other business units. Two prototypes in the Health Care and Beauty Care businesses last year tested this expanded S95 scope, which now includes quality test results related to material production.
These two prototypes will also test a newly developed S88 structure in P&G's MES system with its batch history archive modules.
Standards based interfaces
Responding to requests from their users, P&G's ERP vendor solicited input on the S95 standard from customers and vendors of information systems that exchange information with them.
They are developing a B2MML interface that will become part of their ERP product. It will use their middleware application to map to B2MML. A first version of some of their B2MML is now out.
P&G's key MES system vendor will add S95 integration to their MES product by adding a middleware application packaged with the product. During the prototyping phase, P&G will work with them on the design and development of the mapping between their data structures and P&G's S95 XML structure. As the B2MML structure for some parts of the data P&G intends to exchange is not ready, the XML mappings will be P&G specific. However, the planets are aligning for the development of standard B2MML mappings all customers can use.
The scope of the prototype implementation includes processing inbound production schedule B2MML into the MES production plan and new bill of materials structures. Also, generating outbound production performance B2MML that maps production event status to order confirmation, material lot production events to material production, and material lot genealogy to material consumption is included. Plus, a new test performance XML, created by P&G as a first draft of a new B2MML schema, will contain quality data.
The MES vendor is also adding S88 to store batch history information. These new structures will hold the batch, unit procedure, operation, and phase events, plus their parameters. This will improve an earlier version of batch history to now allow storing of nearly all types of batch data in a manner consistent with S88. Many of the manufacturing operations at P&G that require close integration with ERP are batch manufacturing.
A cost factor
The inherent value of a standard based integration mechanism seems self evident yet bears quantifying. The lower cost of implementation of a B2MML interface is real if you go by past performances. Typically, you can create a new interface for an application in about five weeks versus taking up to one year to build a custom interface between ERP and an MES system. As vendors and systems adopt B2MML, this single standard interface replaces custom point-to-point interfaces, reducing the cost of ownership by eliminating development and support costs. By using a standard interface, a company does not lock itself into a single vendor's product or a single skilled consultant. Systems at either end of the standard interface can change at a minimal cost.
Once this standard interface integrates into a company's IT infrastructure, deployment to new sites becomes a standard service request rather than a development effort. The accuracy of information in an automated interface reduces the possibility of error inherent in a manual interface. Once automated, information exchange can be more frequent. This can allow more frequent and accurate planning functions to respond quickly to supply chain changes. P&G expects to replace daily back flushing calculations of inventory with frequent direct recording of production and consumption. Just in time, raw material inventory replenishment and urgent production order changes can now go out within a very small time window.
The reduced integration cost can also bring supply chain integration to small operations, such as emerging markets, where it has been more cost effective to manually exchange data between ERP and MES systems. The simple XML technology of B2MML should make it more cost effective to automate interfaces to systems as simple as a spreadsheet. The existing file transfer infrastructure could occur at no addition cost. Even better, with no interface development cost, more sophisticated MES systems may now be cost effective. Manual error elimination, rapid supply chain information flow, and costs reduction could occur even in these already low cost and low volume operations.
About to become reality
The vision for an integrated batch making information system has long been clear. The last few steps are about to make it a reality. P&G's batch execution systems vary greatly from simple PLC programs to sophisticated batch control systems. P&G's key MES system will soon be able to store and integrate batch history from all in a single S88 structure.
When it comes right down to it, the single point of integration to ERP is the B2MML interface. Two of the MES systems use the same B2MML messages. Interfaces may also come about for control systems, either by their vendors or P&G, to read B2MML information directly when there is no need to pass it through an MES system. The production schedule for example could go directly to an intelligent control system as well as the MES system.
To begin P&G's B2MML implementation with ERP, the company created an application called "P&G S95" to translate between ERP messages and B2MML. The company chose the mapping tools that already had an infrastructure with a support organization and development resources available. The company will develop only the minimum functionality required to meet the short term needs with this application and expects to phase this out in favor of the ERP vendor's product as soon as possible.
The transfer of B2MML messages between the single XML message server in each continental region and the manufacturing systems is FTP. The sending system is responsible for handling communication errors and retry attempts. This method was the easiest to implement for the pilots. The company is investigating other methods including a publish and subscribe mechanism already in place.
Last year, P&G completed a pilot in its Family Care business with MES receiving production schedule information from B2MML sent from ERP. This schedule download function is going out to more of its business units.
Last year, P&G also completed a pilot in the Fabric and Home Care business with their internally developed MES application. It implements automated supply chain integration by receiving a schedule with bills of materials and sending material production, material consumption, and order confirmation. This application is undergoing deployment in this business unit around the world.
This same functionality will go in the main MES system and will pilot in the Health Care and Beauty Care businesses. The Health Care business will prototype two of the Batch History methods in MES. Once installed, P&G will have its first implementation of the vision of S88 and S95 integration from the plant floor to ERP through MES using something close to B2MML rather than custom interfaces.
P&G's next step will be to migrate from its interim solution for B2MML to those supported and delivered as products from ERP and MES vendors. The interim solution will undergo enhancement only when vendors' products either do not have such a function or P&G is unable to upgrade vendor products due to other factors.
Various systems people will encourage the owners of all MES systems at P&G to migrate to the key MES system. It will become the primary point of integration among manufacturing operations, maximizing the efficiency of information exchange in P&G's consumer driven supply network.
If this migration is not possible, operations will require the MES owners to use some type of B2MML to exchange information with ERP. Deployment, reconfiguration, and support of S95 integration should be a simple service request. Use of B2MML by all will allow this.
P&G's businesses want to respond almost in real time to changes in the supply chain. Therefore, planners schedule each batch of production individually. This requires S95 and S88 integration and standards to realize this vision in a cost effective and efficient manner. MES will provide a common S88 batch history repository across the batch making systems. B2MML implemented and vendor supported in MES and ERP will bring S95 integration to the batch processing area.
P&G intends to use the MES system and the ERP system to build this integrated batch making information environment. Here is a breakdown of four batch history methods. A single Batch Interface Table becomes a Point of Integration for all batch history from batch control systems. Some batch control systems archive their data to a common relational table. A module reads this table into the Batch Interface Table. There is also a module to extract batch history data from specifically named tags in a historian into the Batch Interface Table. PLC code populates these historian tags and act as a single entry transaction buffer for batch history data. Other systems can insert their own data to this Batch Interface Table using SQL. Finally, the event detection models could derive batch data from event triggers and data in a historian if no batch data structure can come together in the control system.
About the Author
David Cornell is the former systems manager at Procter & Gamble in West Chester, Ohio. This story emanates from a paper presented at the WBF 2005 North American Conference.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning): A company's information systems designed to bind more closely a variety of functions including human resources, inventories, and financials while simultaneously linking the company to customers and vendors.
MES (Manufacturing Execution System): MES guides, triggers, and reports on plant activities. MES provides mission critical information about production activities to others across the organization and supply chain via bi-directional communication.
B2MML (Business to Manufacturing Markup Language): Companies interested in following ISA-95 for integration projects may use B2MML to integrate business systems such as ERP and supply chain management systems with manufacturing systems such as control systems and manufacturing execution systems.
XML (Extensible Markup Language): XML allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.
ISA-SP88 Batch Control committee
ISA-SP95, Enterprise-Control System Integration committee
Applying S88: Batch Control from a User's Perspective By Jim Parshall and L.B. Lamb
The World Batch Forum: The forum for automation and manufacturing professionals