Recipes are the heart, soul and driving force behind all batch management systems, and as such, they must be handled with the respect, attentiveness and security they deserve. However, as batch systems and the products they produce grow ever more complex and varied, these primary batch missions are becoming more complicated as well.
To help users meet these new batch requirements, Rockwell Automation is launching its new FactoryTalk Batch, Version 12 in July 2014. This latest release combines FactoryTalk software 20-year lineage and experience with several major new capabilities, according to John Parraga, FactoryTalk Batch product manager, and Jason Wright, PlantPAx product manager, both of Rockwell Automation. These new functions include:
- Protecting the intellectual property (IP) users have in their batch recipes
- Managing evolving recipes via approved workflows for all stakeholders
- Enabling version control of recipes and tracking their genealogy as they change
"End users have more and more IP and best practices tied into their batch recipes these days, so FactoryTalk Batch, version 12, protects that IP inside their batch management systems, and then helps users manage changes in those recipes as they make more and more varied products on the same production lines and in the same facilities," explained Wright.
"Because batch recipes are becoming increasingly modular and capturing best practices, FactoryTalk Batch locks them down so only authorized personnel can view or run them," added Parraga. "And, because we built it to handle different versions of recipes and their approved portfolios, FactoryTalk Batch can also track recipes as they evolve over time, which helps users capture and reuse their best practices. These enhancements also enable batch management workflows to help optimize their production processes, quality assurance efforts and allow all users to sign off on recipes before they're released to production."
Parraga and Wright discussed FactoryTalk Batch V.12's new functions in an exclusive interview this week at the RSTechED conference in Orlando, Florida. They reported that V.12 will benefit users in the pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, specialty chemicals and other batch-related applications and industries, and added that it will be especially useful when recipes are affected by changes in raw materials, altered specifications, and shifts in customer tastes and demands.
"Users want to design applications and facilities that can produce multiple new and different products without changing their underlying automation infrastructure layer," said Wright. "Automation codes and configurations determine what a plant can do, but batch systems drive plants based on product specific requirements."
Batch Management for the Masses
Parraga explained that users want flexible and modular batch management systems, which are defined by the ISA S88 batch standard and its common, workflow-based recommendations. "Recipes create phases for filling, heating, cooling and performing other functions," said Parraga. "They're typically configured as flowcharts, and then the recipe editor function exposes what the process can do. So even if operators don't know how a batch management system works, they can still use it to optimize process and manufacture products.
"In addition, recipes don't just evolve internally. You can use the same materials and formulas, but recipes also change because they capture what-if scenarios and operators' standard operating procedures (SOPs). This is why FactoryTalk Batch, V.12, isn't just for automated batch applications, but can also help optimize those with manual processes and secure the best approaches for both."
Wright concluded, "FactoryTalk Batch, V.12, also has the scalability to manage all sizes of batch processes from small, single-cabinet, skid-based applications up to large, distributed, multi-unit operations, and then this platform can link up with and report to related distributed control and enterprise systems. Whole plants can be built using these modular batch management methods, and the key is scalability."