Microsoft launches Windows DNA for Manufacturing

Simpler usually means faster. To cut costs and simplify deployment, integration, and management of manufacturing enterprise systems, Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, Wa.) recently collaborated with its customers, developers, and manufacturers to develop a new technical architecture.


Simpler usually means faster. To cut costs and simplify deployment, integration, and management of manufacturing enterprise systems, Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, Wa.) recently collaborated with its customers, developers, and manufacturers to develop a new technical architecture.

Launched on Feb. 23, Microsoft Windows Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) for Manufacturing allows disparate manufacturing software applications to integrate seamlessly, according to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's president. Windows DNA also enables proficient information exchange among distributed solutions from the shop floor and enterprise resource planning processes (See CE , Feb. '99, p. 71). Mr. Ballmer said this initiative is not an isolated Microsoft effort, but parallels similar efforts in other vertical industries.

"Integration is essential to deploying a modern manufacturing system, but piecing its components together is often difficult, time-consuming, and expensive," says Mr. Ballmer. "Windows DNA for Manufacturing makes this process easier and more cost-effective by combining the Windows platform, various line-of-business applications, and legacy solutions to create manufacturing-specific 'digital nervous systems.' "

Because the Internet profoundly alters information exchange, Mr. Ballmer says, every employee becomes a knowledge worker. He says enterprises must make sure to get crucial information to them, especially bad news needing quick corrective action.

Windows DNA for Manufacturing framework relies on the Component Object Model (COM) as its foundation. It links islands of information in a manufacturing environment, improving information flow, and bridging gaps between enterprise applications as well as supply chain business partners. Other important DNA technologies include Visual Basic for Applications and DCOM. A technology to watch in the future is XML (extensible markup language) for data transfer.

Windows DNA is the application development model for the Windows platform. It specifies how to develop robust, scalable, distributed applications using the Windows platform, extend existing data and external applications to support the Internet, and support a wide range of client devices maximizing the reach of an application. Windows DNA architecture enables ISVs and organizations to solve challenges, while lowering costs associated with deploying and managing information technology systems.

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Developers, manufacturers support Windows DNA

A growing number of software and hardware developers, system integrators, and manufacturers are supporting Windows DNA for Manufacturing. They include: Aspen Technology, Camstar Systems Inc., Cincom Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Ernst & Young, Honeywell Inc., Iconics Inc., Intellution Inc., Macola Software, Marcam Solutions Inc., National Instruments, OLE for Process Control (OPC), Rockwell Automation, SAP AG, Sequencia Corp., Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems Inc., Symix Systems Inc., USDATA Corp., and Wonderware Corp. To date, pieces of the framework have been implemented at several companies, such as Ocean Spray Cranberries and Gates Rubber Co.

"Windows DNA for Manufacturing architecture allowed us to integrate all aspects of our operations and reduce development time by 30% to 50%," says Mike Smith, Ocean Spray's national manufacturing systems manager. "The Windows platform and Intellution's industrial automation software, coupled with technologies such as the SAP DCOM Connector, give us a scalable foundation for expanding our application base and growing our business globally."

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