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The ISA-88 Batch Control standards

First published in 1995. As told by Dennis Brandl.

The ISA-88, Batch Control (series) standard, first published in 1995, introduced the ISA-88 model, recognized now as an object-oriented design pattern for defining automation. It has become the accepted standard for structuring automation projects.

Most major integrators, and all major automation vendors, support the ISA-88 model and use the models in their projects. We documented measurable benefits from applying the models, typically a 30 percent savings on the first project and up to 80 percent savings on follow-up projects due to the modular and reuse approach defined in ISA-88. Even today, work on Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing initiatives use the ISA-88 equipment and recipe models as an integral part of their development efforts.

We found that once people learned how to apply the ISA-88 model, their personal productivity improved, and they became better engineers. The World Batch Forum, now part of MESA International, documented the greater than 30 percent improvement, in addition to throughput improvements in batch processes, better repeatability of processes, and higher product quality. These directly measurable improvements have been what has led to the widespread use of the ISA-88 series.

There were, on average, between 20 and 30 active participants in the development of the ISA-88 standard, and over 100 reviewers. Our meetings were at times raucous and noisy, but always focused on the goal of documenting the best-known practices.

My initial role in the committee was to help identify the “true-isms,” the things that we could all agree on, such as “a unit only runs one batch at a time,” and document what we agreed to. Where we couldn’t reach agreement, we came up with the words that describe the different possible implementations.

I started as a naive engineer but listened and learned. Eventually I became the editor of the different parts in the series, and for a time was committee chairman. Often, being chairman was “herding cats,” but hopefully I kept us focused on the deliverables and away from the deeper “philosophical” questions that always seem to come up when engineers get together.

There were other major contributors, including Tom Fisher from The Lubrizol Corporation, Lynn Craig from Rohm and Haas, Bill Hawkins, Rick Bullotta, Leo Charpentier, Rick Mergen, Paul Nowicki, Keith Unger, Michael Saucier, and Joel Vardy. These were only a few of the experts involved, but many of the ISA88 committee members have gone on to become some of the icons of automation and batch.

This article is part of September/October 2020 InTech—the ISA 75th Anniversary Special Edition