Plant Connectivity Standards enable enterprises realize real-time benefits


Manufacturing organizations attempting to integrate the plant floor with ERP, supply chain, scheduling, quality and other systems in their enterprises today have difficult choices to make to base that integration on standards - specifically, what standard to choose. Fortunately or unfortunately there were not too many choices available, and each chose their path based on their own organizations strength and weakness. This paper provides an introduction to one of the standards- ISA 95, that has been in practice in the global manufacturing sector. It is applicable in continuous, batch or discrete processes and and provides a good platform for any user looking at a lean, adaptive or collaborative manufacturing environment.
ISA-95 is fast growing into becoming a common language and tool that can exchange application needs between the management and functional departments such as quality, maintenance, purchase, production, planning, IT and Automation. While each of the functional departments have their own nomenclature, ISA provides a common base line over which each of their terminologies can be translated and understood. The ISA 95 definitions and models enable organisations to structure their disparate application requirements into a common manufacturing application framework incorporating best  practices. There are five parts of the ISA 95- Enterprise - Control system integration standard that enable seamless connectivity between organization layers.

ISA Standards:
ISA-95.01 Enterprise-Control System Integration, Part 1: Models & Terminology consists of description of relevant functions in the enterprise and the control domain and which objects are normally exchanged between these domains.

ISA-95.02 Enterprise-Control System Integration, Part 2: Object Model Attributes consists of attributes for every object that is defined in part 1. The objects and attributes of Part 2 can be used for the exchange of information between different systems, but these objects and attributes can also be used as the basis for relational databases.


ISA-95.03 Enterprise-Control System Integration, Part 3: Models of Manufacturing Operations Management focuses on the functions and activities at level 3 (Production / MES layer). It provides guidelines for describing and comparing the production levels of different sites in a standardized way.

ISA-95.04 Object Models & Attributes, Part 4: Object models and attributes for Manufacturing Operations Management. This technical specification defines object models that determine which information is exchanged between MES activities (which are defined in part 3 by ISA-95). The models and attributes from part 4 are the basis for the design and the implementation of interface standards and make sure of a flexible lapse of the cooperation and information-exchange between the different MES activities.

ISA-95.05 B2M Transactions, Part 5: Business to manufacturing transactions. This technical specification defines operation between office and production automations systems, which can be used together with the object models of part 1 & 2. The operations connect and organise the production objects and activities that are defined through earlier parts of the standard. Such operations take place on all levels within a business, but the focus of this technical specification lies on the interface between enterprise and control systems.

Indian manufacturing industries perspective

While large manufactures have used aggressive capacity acquisition as a strategy and successfully transformed themselves into global players with footprints across geographies, the mid -sized  firms have taken a niche position with end to end offerings from the design to delivery of products. 
While it has been a growth story all the way, let us look at the challenges that management of these firms are faced with, in their day-to-day business operations.

  • Non-contact distance measurement up to a range of 10 m.

  • Managing multiple operations with plants across borders

  • Managing multiple operations with plants spread Pan India based on available skills, or government incentives or proximity to client locations

  • Developing and managing supply chain to match desired growth rate.

  • Growing migration of personnel to competitors or to other industries

All these fundamentally point to a common factor, that geography no longer holds relevance in manufacturing sector operations and very akin to IT sector, the firms that are able to manage their anywhere- anytime delivery to meet client needs with lowest cost and highest quality would be the company of choice. As usage of anytime-anywhere, real-time information, like emails on mobile, chats within emails, can make individuals more connectable and productive, the same concept of anytime-anywhere, real-time plant information, can make organization segments more connectable and productive with real-time, decision enabling support systems.
Currently, the basic usage of ISA-95 standards has been to characterize the internal and external process flows within the production and enterprise areas. This mapping is physically very challenging as individual units within the organization do not conform to any generic functional model. Business processes vary extensively across manufacturing industries depending on whether they are discrete/batch or continuous. Variants within production rules like engineer-to order, make-to order, make-to-stock, mix-ratios are always a challenge for seamless integration. ISA 95 provides a good base to start analyzing company specific work flow process. The model provides tools and terminologies that enable production, business analyst, IT and Automation to jointly build an integrated system that captures effectively the work flow across the enterprise, and deal with distributed plant work data, with efficient data aggregation and distribution.

A phased approach to integrate Business with Shop floor data

  • Business needs assessment

  • Identify the driving business need for Data integration. (Identify the expected tangible/ intangible benefits from the exercise)

  • Identify the current organizational climate towards the change

  • Determine the cost/benefit and ROI of achieving integrated model for the enterprise

  • Requirements assessment

This step will have to be repeated in future as we are performing data integration

  • Identify the focus area to achieve integration- Quality, production, planning

  • Identify the segment/section to achieve data integration

  1. Single plant / Multi plant.

  2. Single Geographical location / Multiple locations.

  3. Inclusion of Vendor / sub contractors data.

  4. Pilot project / enterprise wide implementation.

  • Determine if you want to automate the data exchange process. If yes, identify the following

  1. Single plant/ Multi plant

  2. Technology required

  3. Data storage and band width load requirements

  4. Skills required

  • Identify any new technology/infrastructure/automated information systems to be adopted

  1. Skills required

  2. Identify current technology/ software in place. Determine if they can be leveraged for the maximum advantage

  3. Identify gap between current levels and required levels

  4. Assess the skill sets of in house team and Determine training requirements

  5. Determine cost/benefit analysis of the exercise

  • Feasibility/ Risk assessment

  • Identify probable failure points and the reasons for their existence

  • Plan on the learning curve required to adopt the new systems

  • Identify level of training, knowledge and the cost benefit analysis of the training required

  • Determine support from all levels- top management/middle level management, supervisors and operators

  1. Due to Work Culture

  2. Due to Technology gap

  3. Due to Financial implications

  • Understand the return on investment

  1. Assess financial benefits and ROI expected

  2. Assess the provision for the exercise in line with the future business plans

  • Map a preliminary data interchange model

  • Identify the activities in the focus area

  • Identify the responsible position/ designation, their level for the activity

  • Identify the information exchange required from and to the activity

  • Identify the priority and the response time required for this information

  • Identify the triggers for information exchange (whether it is a regular schedule or in response to an event)

  • Identify the mode of information exchange (whether it is paper or automatic), format for exchange, the operation to which the exchange is done

  • Identify the structure and components for automation of the data integration as required

  • Identify software and hardware used.

  • Identify the gaps in the preliminary data interchange model

  • Identify the bottlenecks created due to information exchange

  • Identify additional information required

  • Identify software and hardware requirements

  • Identify information transformation required

  • Prepare the final data interchange model

  • Identify and prioritize information exchange required

  • Identify the software/systems/technology to be used

  • Identify the logistics and mode of data exchange

  • Finalize the specifications of the data interchange model

  • Develop the manufacturing execution infrastructure (MEI) plan

  • Communications criteria

  • Control system for both software and manuals

  • Complete details about the document management system, Including the documentation standards needed to fulfill the project goals

  • Details about the management of the project, including chain of command, responsibilities, authority, and reporting

  • Draft an implementation plan and publish the same.

  • Create and execute a training plan including the end users and the super users.

  • Prepare to execute a pilot project.

  • Determine the phases, goals, and their objectives in the pilot project

  • Design and deploy the pilot project

  • Benchmark the deployment and produce a performance assessment

  • Determine the ROI of each function in the Pilot project

  • Analyze the pilot project and determine the changes required

  • Plan for enterprise wide implementation

Once the enterprise team has worked through several iterations of pilot projects, it can begin to design an enterprise wide support system

  • Develop an enterprise wide implementation plan

  • Identify teams and their responsibilities. Impart necessary training to them

  • Draft a set of infrastructure requirements and support systems required throughout the enterprise

  • Finalize the data exchange requirements between the Shop floor and enterprise based on the pilot project

  • Publish the enterprise wide manual and implementation plan

  • Deploy and benchmark the new systems

- Uma Balakrishnan

Akshay Pai