What makes for better batch management?

By Dan UpDyke, Batch Product Manager, Rockwell Automation

Jun 12, 2017

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After more than 20 years in the batch management industries, I’ve seen many companies attempt to force-fit fixed batch control systems onto their batch processes. Guess what? It hardly ever works to the benefit of the batch.

Creating a batch to fit fixed technology is like building a baseball team based on what size uniforms are left in the locker room from last season. It is stringent and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Imagine a whiskey producer, whose nuances of flavor and color represent its brand, try to perform with the manufacturing velocity required to meet customer-driven demand with purpose-built control sitting on dedicated equipment.

Imagine a cookie manufacturer limiting the possibilities for its recipes to accommodate the response time of a traditional batch server.

Most producers – and even consumers – slightly cringe at leaving what so deliciously tantalizes the taste buds up to technology decisions. Yet, this is what batch manufacturing has been dealing with for decades.

Until now…

Modern batch management changes the philosophy because it puts the batch first. It’s about understanding the need of the batch and applying the right technology rather than starting with a technology and trying to use it for all solutions.

For example, facilities that are constrained by rigid batch control systems can’t adapt to changing equipment conditions over time, nor can they take advantage of common workflows as they scale procedures from pilot areas to volume production. 

Whereas, a scalable and distributed solution can integrate the batch management system with local skids and controllers using a distributed ISA-88 model. 

This integration results in a more responsive and highly reliable system that’s focused on improving operator effectiveness and higher throughput. The batch processing system can easily grow from single-unit instances into larger enterprise-wide deployments.

I’ve found craft brewers to be some of the most selective batchers on the planet. They often refuse to relinquish control over flavor or quality or recipe to accommodate technology. Modern batch management allows us all to harness our inner craft brewers and put the batch first!

Modern batch management incorporates:

  • A scalable batch processing system
  • Intuitive experiences enabled for enterprise systems
  • Faster and more reliable control
  • Secured information enabled for enterprise systems

It helps batch processors overcome some of the hurdles they face, such as rigid systems, purpose-built control, information extraction, and the changing expectations of today’s workforce. This modern approach not only addresses challenges with technical capabilities, but does so while maintaining the security, integrity and reliability of the production system.

Indeed, organizations that embrace today’s rapidly advancing technologies and modern batch management approaches stand to uncover new competitive advantages.

Learn more about the Rockwell Automation approach to modern batch management.

Download the full report: Highlights from Rockwell Automation 2017