Plant floor to enterprise: In search of effective vertical integration

By Control Engineering Staff March 7, 2007

One of the major announcements at the ARC Collaborative Manufacturing Strategies Forum last month was from Invensys and Wonderware about a partnership they have taken with SAP to produce two new vertical integration packages, Real Time Production Execution and Real Time Finance. (If you like acronyms, they’re called SAP xMII certified PCAs.)

What it means is that there are now two new applications meant to run in parallel, to bridge the space between plant floor and enterprise level. (Invensys has been spending a lot of time in that space lately with InFusion, and this is another way to span the gulf.) Real Time Production Execution provides manufacturing information and data appropriate for the COO, enterprise level managers, production management, plant resource planners, and operators. Each level receives exactly what it needs, all from the same application, for control, reporting, and analysis.

In parallel to that, and never more than a click away, is Real Time Finance. This application provides immediate financial feedback for what is going on in the plant. For example, managers and operators can see all the feedstocks going into a process, and know immediately the cost of each. They can monitor output and its value. If something changes in a process, the economic impact is available immediately. As Peter Martin, vice president of performance management, Invensys, put it, “You can’t drive value if you can’t measure value.

“You can change a working recipe variable,” Martin continues. “You can change a setpoint or any number of things, and then watch the real time accounting screens and determine, ‘Did that change add value? Did it take value away?’ By knowing that, operators, maintenance people, plant managers, can determine where they want to spend their time, what activities they do that drive value, what activities don’t drive value, and streamline the operation. You can impose a level of focus, because you’ll be enabling all your operators to focus on the areas where value can be created.”

While this system is capable of handling full plant-sized installations, it can be scaled down to smaller operating units for critical monitoring or as an experiment. As long as the unit has all the required elements to manipulate and monitor, it is a candidate. For more information on this new application, click here to listen to our podcast with Peter Martin and Wonderware’s Mark Davidson.

Control Engineering daily news desk
Peter Welander , process industries editor