Think & Do combines communications, data, control
To help users implement e-business applications, Think & Do Software (Ann Arbor, Mich.) is developing three new products—Think & Do Live!, Think & Do Live! Pro, and Think & Do Release 6. The trio is reported to be the first products in the industry to combine communications, information, and control technologies to deliver "e-control" capabilities in support of e-man...
To help users implement e-business applications, Think & Do Software (Ann Arbor, Mich.) is developing three new products—Think & Do Live!, Think & Do Live! Pro, and Think & Do Release 6. The trio is reported to be the first products in the industry to combine communications, information, and control technologies to deliver "e-control" capabilities in support of e-manufacturing infrastructure required for effective e-business implementation.
A key feature of this new family is its ability to enhance productivity and reduce production variability through built-in monitoring and display of machine downtime and cycle time. This information can be linked directly to enterprise applications enhancing e-business ship-to-promise performance. The products support Microsoft Windows DNA for Manufacturing on Windows 2000, Windows NT Embedded, and Windows CE. Think & Do Live! is an OPC client, while Think & Do Live! Pro adds OPC server capabilities with drivers to draw data from many existing PLCs.
Think & Do Release 6 software will incorporate Microsoft Visio 2000 industry standard user interface and drawing technology. Visio has more than 3 million users in many enterprise areas. With this interface, Think & Do users will have a unified development environment (UDE) throughout the enterprise. This UDE is expected to speed system development and reduce training requirements by incorporating system design, logic, HMI, and project documentation capabilities in one graphical user interface.
Think & Do Live! and Think & Do Live! Pro were scheduled to be available for shipment in March 2000, while Think & Do Release 6 is expected to ship in 3Q00.
Ken Spenser, Think & Do's president and ceo, explains that e-manufacturing is a new approach to manufacturing implementation that provides full integration between manufacturing control systems and enterprise applications. It has come about because virtually all manufacturing and distribution companies implementing e-business strategies find traditional manufacturing infrastructure inadequate, he says.
These structures are multi-layer architectures with proprietary control devices (like PLCs and embedded controllers) at the bottom, manufacturing execution systems in the middle, and enterprise applications (like supply chain management and customer relationship management) on the top. This architecture has a top-down execution of pre-planned schedules.
The demands of e-business, that is, those companies doing most, if not all, business over the web, require both top-down and bottom-up scheduling and execution. Solutions are built on Microsoft Windows-powered controllers and Microsoft DNA technology. This is a cost-effective method to unlock data in the controllers and link this real-time information directly to enterprise applications. The result is agile, re-configurable manufacturing that responds rapidly to changing demands and opportunities characteristic of e-business.
Gary Mintchell, senior editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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