Benefits of Enterprise Integration
Marc Leroux, product marketing manager at ABB also echoes Paulonis’ comments. “To date, the vast majority of the connections have been limited to production requirements and costing information. This is a start, but certainly not what CEOs envisioned when they invested millions of dollars in ERP implementations. To execute on this vision, the manufacturing organization must become ‘transparent.’ As companies focus on improved customer service, the demand for much tighter integration will become higher than we can presently envision,” he concludes.
Todd Stauffer, PCS 7 marketing manager at Siemens, agrees. “Enterprise integration can also mean increasing the quality of the manufactured products,” he says. “Optimization of production assets can’t be performed by relying only on the capabilities of the process control system. Truly optimizing the performance of these assets requires looking at the incremental benefits that can be achieved by using MES, ERP, CMMS, asset management, advanced diagnostics, loop tuning and advanced control.”
Pat Kennedy, CEO of OSIsoft, says ES is profitable. “Although there have been a lot of painful mistakes with ERP implementations, high value is precisely the reason that they keep trying,” he notes. “We had one pulp and paper user that set up an energy trading desk for five paper mills. They invested $70,000 and made $1 million, and will make the same $1 million per year forever. We had a power utility user that set up remote operations and management for their power stations and reported a $3 per year return for every $1 spent. We had a steel complex that reported a +20% increase in plant availability by going to proactive instead of reactive maintenance. Those that confine their operations and analytics skills to inside the process control network are toast.”
“The ultimate objective is real-time, closed-loop business control via what we call ‘real-time finance’,” says Peter Martin, VP of Invensys Process Systems. “To provide the process and business measurements and information flows needed to implement real-time finance, plant and enterprise systems and applications must not just be connected, but actually unified into a single ‘system.’ This departs dramatically from the traditional view that real-time control systems and transactional business systems are in entirely separate domains.
“With such a unified system, users could, for example, take advantage of the real-time calculation capability in the control systems to calculate accounting information in real time; aggrandize that information to shift daily and weekly accounting totals in the plant historian; then merge that information into the ES finance system. In another example, real-time condition monitoring information developed in the control and maintenance systems can be used to trigger an appropriate action in the business system, as determined by current business objectives.”
Jeffery Cawley, market development VP at Northwest Analytical, agrees that process control and ES are becoming unified. “If manufacturing firms are going to run their enterprise based on key performance indicator (KPIs), then information from both process and enterprise systems must be combined,” he explains. “That’s why enterprise applications need access to process system data. The reverse also is true: the people running the process need to be able to incorporate selected KPIs in decision making, and need to do much better at asset management, which requires information that is owned by the enterprise applications.”
Cawley adds control system vendors are making money from all this. “Control system vendors are moving up the system levels much like the ERP vendors are moving down. This product line diversification is designed to expand their market opportunities. The line dividing functions between the ERP and related applications (MES, SCM) is becoming blurred as manufacturing management and enterprise applications take on functions like asset management and scheduling.”
Woolfrey of Yokogawa agrees about the need to provide access both ways. “The information ES holds that is critical to plant operations comes from their role in managing the plant’s supply chain and in managing the plant’s equipment maintenance,” he says. “ES contains important information about the quality, cost, and timing of raw materials delivered to a plant; the plant’s production schedule; and the quality, sales price and timing of shipments to customers. Important information held by ES about plant maintenance includes parts availability, repair schedules, and personnel required to make repairs.”
Going the other direction, he says, “Plant control systems hold large amounts of information as well, but the critical information they hold for ES are rates and conditions of plant operations and the status of equipment. Plant control systems hold information about the actual quantity and quality of raw materials, plant capacity, current and historical production rates, the quality and location of finished products, and the usage and condition of plant equipment.”
How does all this benefit the control people? One benefit is eliminating the “whipsaw” effect that Paulonis observed. “When a supplier ships raw materials, the ES knows the quality and quantity of those shipments, and can notify the plant control system,” says Woolfrey. “When a customer places or removes orders, the ES can again promptly notify the plant control system.”