USDATA's new MES debuts at Microsoft
In a telecast from Microsoft Studios, USDATA (Richardson, Tex.) introduced its new Xfactory manufacturing execution system (MES) on June 8. The announcement was made by Bob Merry, USDATA's president and ceo, and Charles Stevens, vice president of Microsoft's Application Developers Customer Unit.
In a telecast from Microsoft Studios, USDATA (Richardson, Tex.) introduced its new Xfactory manufacturing execution system (MES) on June 8. The announcement was made by Bob Merry, USDATA's president and ceo, and Charles Stevens, vice president of Microsoft's Application Developers Customer Unit. Xfactory was built from scratch with visual object modeling using ActiveX components and COM (component object model) software.
Xfactory can integrate multiple production areas, inventory management, scheduling, planning, and business management into a single environment. Xfactory fills the gap between FactoryLink—USDATA's manufacturing data collection, HMI (human-machine interface) and analysis program—and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It's built with commercially available open technologies, such as ActiveX, ODBC (open database connectivity), OPC (OLE for Process Control), component-based communications, and a three-tiered architecture.
This three-tiered design provides greater security, optimized client-database connections, centralized management, thin clients, and distributed processing. Xfactory clients reside on Tier 1. These are the HMI and data collection programs that pull data from PLCs or PCs. Components on the Microsoft Transaction Server are on Tier 2, and the client/server ODBC relational database is on Tier 3. This database resides on a Windows NT server. It never needs rebuilding despite changes in the underlying manufacturing system.
In addition, changes to the Xfactory system design can be made at any time, even during production, with results available to operators automatically and immediately. The software's communications function is called event pipelining. This ActiveX technology is Internet-compatible and event-based, allowing any application to monitor and push events to the entire factory.
Gerald Brasuell, vice president and general manager of the Systron Donner Inertial Division of BEI Electronics Co. (San Francisco, Calif.), presented the results of Xfactory's beta site test. BEI is diversifying from a former reliance on defense contracting, and an influx of higher quantity orders with shorter lead times completely changed its production model. "Xfactory helped us rapidly expand production capability and improve processes. More importantly, it allowed us to effectively manage change," says Mr. Brasuell. "Xfactory has a substantially reduced cost of ownership because our internal domain experts have been able to easily incorporate their knowledge into its intuitive production modelling environment."
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