Squeezing Efficiency at the Operations Management Level

When it comes to level 3 of the ANSI/ISA95 model, the production/operations management level, Emerson’s Joanne Salazar and Bob Lenich are two very knowledgeable folks. I caught up with them recently in a discussion around this standard.

For those not steeped in the ISA95 standard, Enterprise-Control System Integration, it is the industry standard for information exchange between enterprise and manufacturing control activities and their supporting IT systems. This standard is oriented toward the definition of data models, work activity, and information exchange. ISA has defined four levels within a manufacturing operation that help companies optimize functions, processes, and data. These levels are based on the Purdue Reference Model for Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). The levels include:

  • Level 0: physical equipment and facilities
  • Level 1: instrumentation, measurements, and equipment health
  • Level 2: automation, asset management, and process data collection
  • Level 3: operations management, workflow execution, and document management (MES)
  • Level 4: transaction-based enterprise management (ERP)

Joanne noted that the level 3 functions are important because they include key work processes: workflow management, recipe control, maintaining records, and optimizing the production process. By addressing these functions, process manufacturers can reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and optimize resource utilization. Manufacturers face price pressure and increasing global competition, and seek ways to squeeze efficiencies from their manufacturing operations. Joanne also commented that process manufacturers have struggled to implement successful solutions that link the real-time plant floor activities with the transactional-based business planning functions.

Bob responded that level 3 functionality can be addressed in a comprehensive manner-including a single recipe for batch-based processes that address both manual and automated activities, life cycle documentation management, and integration of data that is not real-time-but impacts the product (such as lab results.) These level 3 solutions provide “closed loop” control for operations beyond the automated processes, which enables the manufacturer to make better and faster business decisions and optimize their resources.

While Joanne supported this vision, the practical implementation of these solutions has been difficult. Software integration interfaces have historically been time consuming and require extensive testing-not to mention the difficulties that can arise when the support staff must maintain and upgrade the software.

Bob believed this is where standards, such as ISA95 Enterprise Integration, play a big role. By defining data models, common terminology, and information exchange definitions, the integration of various software packages becomes practical in a working plant. Level 3 manufacturing operations software suppliers who adopt these standards make it easier for the process manufacturer to connect solutions from different companies.

By sitting on the ISA95 committee, Bob has had the opportunity to help define this standard. The collaborative effort of suppliers and users in this standard has helped provide a framework for software suppliers that can help to achieve some of the operational efficiencies sought. Bob pointed to Emerson’s automation and operations management solutions that communicate–using the ISA88 recipe model–so that the batch process manufacturer can define a single recipe in a single engineering environment. This recipe spans all functions of an operation, both manual and automated, and enables comprehensive data collection. This single recipe approach may streamline change control and reduce the engineering effort.

And that just might squeeze some more efficiency from the manufacturing operations.

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Posted Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 under Interoperability, Operations Management.

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