Batch Manufacturing: Status and Future Challenges

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This paper discusses the current status and developments in integrated batch automation. The idea of today’s batch automation is the integrated automation of the supply chain as a whole. Because many systems are involved in the supply chain, a homogenous integration is one of the biggest problems in integrated batch automation. Key factors for success are mentioned. In theory, with S88 as a well established standard and S95 in the pipeline, there are good guidelines for an automation project. But the experience shows that there is still a difference between theory and practical experience. The basic issue in business control systems is the coverage of required functionality. In this level, there are complicated resource and planning activities. Especially in a net of integrated plants, standard software systems can’t cover all the required functionality. Some of these functions may be standard functions in the future, but they are not by now. Even in DCS with state-of-the-art batch systems, some functions are often missing. These are some batch-related functions and the matter of standardized interfaces. But at large, most of the required functionality is available. However, in DCS, stability is much more important than in the ERP world, and in IT based DCS systems sometimes a critical subject. It is shown that the only way to improve batch automation solutions is the development of standards and standardized interfaces. A typical system will be composed of standard systems and enhanced by jobspecific extensions as opposed to pure custom systems. These standard interface solutions are still in an early stage of development. Some attractive standard systems will emerge and boost the batch automation business, while less successful solutions may deter companies from further projects. Therefore, the development of “best practice” systems and solutions may be an elusive objective, but seems to be the only way to success.