Systems Integration / Batch Management

Definitions Evolve to Improve All of Process Control

Editor in Chief Paul Studebaker Looks Back 25 Years of Development of Batch Standards

By Paul Studebaker

 The ISA S88 standard committee may never have foreseen that the principles and best practices it developed for batching processes in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries might one day become the foundation of a better way to manage and control all types of continuous, batch and hybrid processes.

S88 principles were implemented early and often, providing fuel for dynamic discussions and success stories among attendees at meetings of the World Batch Forum (WBF). The meetings led to the S95 standard for integration of control and business systems, which guides the exchange of information empowering today’s important developments in real-time, business-based process optimization systems.

WBF, the organization founded to promote batch process technology, and MESA, the organization for manufacturing excellence that grew out of manufacturing execution systems, merged in 2012 and have been working on ISA-106, Procedure-Controlled Automation, to leverage the state- and procedure-based functionality of batch processes across continuous processes.

The accompanying timeline highlights milestones in the evolution of batch control standards over the past 25 years, as reported on the pages of Control magazine.

Today's ISA88-based batch management software provides five major functions: recipe management, execution and tracking; batch production scheduling; product quality management; production data collection and reporting; and product quality management. Benefits include increased product quality and capacity, improved manufacturing flexibility and safety, reduced engineering and maintenance costs, simplified recipe development and reduced time-to-market for new products.

Now the automation principles pioneered in batch control are being used to schedule production, allocate equipment, control plant devices, manage loops, dynamically adjust alarm parameters and detect abnormal situations. Operators can focus more on running the entire plant and less on running individual pieces of equipment. They have a better understanding of overall plant operation, and are able to analyze KPIs related to efficiency, quality and profitability. By focusing more on business-related KPIs, operators can have a greater and more important role in the company's success.

These powerful batch standards are helping to ensure that plant equipment operates efficiently and safely under all operating conditions. When standards are developed and systems are deployed consistently across an entire enterprise, operators have a clear understanding of how the equipment operates, are able to cross-train easily, and corporations reap the benefits for many decades.

 See the timeline.