Complete connectivity: Vendors offer more options for linking plant- and enterprise-level systems

Manufacturing execs seeking to view real-time production data through an ERP system interface now have two new options—one from SaaS-enabled ERP vendor Plex Systems, and one from communications software specialist Kepware—for making that connection.

By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff March 3, 2009

Manufacturing executives seeking to view real-time production data through an ERP system interface now have two new options for making that connection.
Plex Systems , which offers the Plex Online ERP suite in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, recently added an integrated set of manufacturing execution system (MES) modules to its lineup. And Kepware , a supplier of software for connecting plant-floor devices to enterprise systems, has released new solutions for passing data to the Oracle E-Business Suite .
The new Plex Online modules make it easier for users of traditional ERP-level applications such as order entry, CRM, or accounting & finance to incorporate production status information into their business decision-making.
“Today’s manufacturer is under tremendous pressure to develop high-quality products quickly and cost-effectively,” says Plex Systems CEO and President Mark Symonds. “OEMs are paring their supplier lists and frankly, it is a tough time to be in business. Plex Online gives manufacturers an edge in that they are better able to measure and manage quality, shop-floor and machine operations, production and more, while streamlining the entire supply chain.”

Plex Systems CEO and President Mark Symonds says pressure to develop high-quality products quickly and cost-effectively is driving manufacturers’ desire to link plant and enterprise-level systems.

With the new MES functionality, the Plex Online suite now consists of more than 350 modules to manage operations from the shop floor to the top floor, including:
• Quality management and machine integration;
• Accounting & finance;
• Order entry and tracking; and
• Supplier quality and traceability.
According to Symonds, Plex Online can capture data at the point of origin and process it real-time. Production, machine integration, customer requirements, and other data flow seamlessly into production operations and financial reports, he says, giving the entire supply chain ready access to real-time data about production. The end result is better management of the complexities relative to launching new products, improving supply chain collaboration, and lower overall operating costs.
The new Kepware offering—KEPServerEX—incorporates more than 130 communications protocols supporting connectivity to thousands of plant-floor devices. The latest version of the solution is built to deliver plant-level data directly to Oracle’s Manufacturing Operations Center—which is Oracle’s version of MES—and the discrete manufacturing components of the Oracle E-Business Suite.
Kepware began creating these connectivity solutions shortly after announcing a formal development relationship with Oracle in early 2008.
“Through our work with Kepware, we are enabling our joint customers to connect Oracle Applications to virtually every piece of equipment on the plant floor,” explains Jon Chorley, Oracle VP of SCM product strategy. “This enables increased visibility, productivity, and manufacturing efficiencies, all of which are critical components to staying ahead of the competition.”