Acsis/SAP tool provides plant-level integration, MES adjunct, track & trace

Originally conceived as a means of efficiently passing data between the manufacturing execution system (MES) layer and an ERP transaction backbone, an innovative software platform from SAP partner Acsis has evolved into a fully functional, serialized track-and-trace solution. “Consumer goods and defense manufacturers have no choice but to comply with traceability mandates from retailers a...
By Malcolm Wheatley, senior contributing editor (malcolm_wheatley@compuserve.com) December 1, 2007

Originally conceived as a means of efficiently passing data between the manufacturing execution system (MES) layer and an ERP transaction backbone, an innovative software platform from SAP partner Acsis has evolved into a fully functional, serialized track-and-trace solution.

Chain-of-custody and track & trace technologies can deliver operational efficiencies as well as ensure regulatory compliance.

“Consumer goods and defense manufacturers have no choice but to comply with traceability mandates from retailers and the Department of Defense, even as the pharmaceutical industry is being forced to implement electronic-pedigree solutions to build chain-of-custody reporting throughout its supply chain,” says Acsis Executive VP and CTO Stewart McCutcheon. “Companies affected by these mandates are devoting millions of dollars to involuntary infrastructure changes—and looking for ways to derive value and ROI from these and related expenditures.”

As used by manufacturers such as Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont , the core Acsis xDDI product serves as both a plant-level integration tool and an adjunct to the MES process. With built-in connectors to devices such as shrink-wrap applicators, label printers, RFID readers, PLCs, and weighing scales, xDDI writes enterprise and MES data to the device layer, and reads data from it—critically buffering both read and write operations from the core SAP R/3 backbone.

Now that same connectivity has been applied to the broader supply chain, explains McCutcheon—focusing on bringing track-and-trace visibility at the serial-number level to manufacturers and distributors facing regulatory and retail-mandated traceability compliance challenges.

“Companies are devoting millions of dollars to involuntary infrastructure changes.”

—Stewart McCutcheon, CTO, Acsis

In the process, says McCutcheon, manufacturers in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, consumer packaged goods, and food & beverage are discovering spin-off benefits including product integrity, better inventory management, and greater product movement visibility and intelligence.

“The focus is on delivering compliance, but also on allowing manufacturers to respond to compliance requirements in an efficient manner—and then, through analytics and improved control, leveraging the delivered capability to improve efficiency still further,” says McCutcheon. “By extracting the information ‘touchlessly’ via RFID, bar-coding and infrared sensors, Acsis enables getting data from literally hundreds of supply chain operations—receiving, putaway, shipping, and even transferring product as it comes off the line—and making that data available in real time without anyone having touched a keyboard.”

Supporting serialized linear, 2D bar-code, and RFID tag labeling, the hardware-agnostic Acsis solution is compatible with HF and UHF tags, readers, and devices; and allows real-time integration with ERP systems—SAP R/3, mySAP, and others—and shop-floor systems such as MES and quality control.