Industry 4.0 Needs Horizontal Integration

  • April 04, 2016
  • MPDV USA Inc.
  • News

By Armin Singer, MPDV

There is an increasing demand for a state-of-the-art Manufacturing Execution System (MES) as Industry 4.0 clearly states. The functions and properties an MES system must have are detailed in the ISA- 95 guidelines and VDI guideline 5600. How relevant is ISA-95 guidelines to Industry 4.0? The Future Concept MES 4.0 casts a light on the issue.

ISA-95 – Relevance for Industry 4.0

Looking into relevant standards like ISA-95 is an international standard from the International Society of Automation.  ISA-95 provides a standard for developing an automated interface between enterprise and control systems.This also applies to industry 4.0. Therefore, MES systems already play an essential role in the practical implementation of industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is a German initiative which is addressed in US by the terms Smart Industry, Advanced Manufacturing, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Integrated Industry.


Horizontal integration, which is defined in the VDI guideline 5600, plays a central role even in the “VDI House for Industry 4.0”.

Status Quo

Current MES market reviews show that the market is quite diversified but only a few systems fulfil the requirements of the ISA-95. Many systems have already implemented online capability but make sacrifices in their functional range and their horizontal integration. Many suppliers only partly cover the tasks and must supplement other functions with external products from partners. More and more suppliers extend their own portfolio of functions which verifies the relevance of ISA-95. Avoiding interfaces, which is an essential requirement for horizontal integration, is normally not covered by increasing the number of functions. MES HYDRA by MDPV shows that it is possible to have horizontal integration with a full range of functions.

“Everything under one Roof”: Horizontal Integration

For the Future Concept MES 4.0 “Horizontal Integration” is connecting all functions and data across the value chain and covering all tasks of an MES. Essential characteristics of the horizontal integration are avoiding interfaces and the modular structure of an overall system.

MES systems are plentiful but a broad range of functions and a complete horizontal integration is only supplied with a few systems - HYDRA by MPDV is one of them.


It goes to show that in the workplace order postings as well as quality inspections are carried out in the same shop floor collection terminal. Ideally both functions are represented in comparable dialogs. This makes it easier for the operator as the modules function on the same basis. The operator saves time as there is no need to go to a specific inspection station.

It also makes it simpler for the administration of an MES system if the modules come from one software house. This is especially illustrated when the software is maintained and is considerably important concerning the life cycle management. Typically, using complex software systems not only small updates and error corrections routinely occur but also release and version changes. Thereby core software changes are also carried out. A horizontally integrated system can be used after a version change instantly as the modules and the functions are linked. This means the customer has time and cost savings.

Horizontal integration is a requirement for the modular structure of an MES solution. That eases the successive introduction of the system which is significant for medium-sized companies. Also users can decide for themselves which functions are sufficient for their application case and can align their selection to their requirements. The software can be extended at any time. No matter which manufacturing processes are presented by the MES in any culture or country, a modular, horizontally integrated MES solution fulfils all the requirements.

Despite that fact, several supplier campaign with “IIoT ready” products. If it is envisaged to use the system in the long term, horizontal integration is essential.

Further exploit Data: Correlating Evaluations

Especially relevant for Industry 4.0 is that systems, incorporating integrative management, can process and evaluate data across all areas. The more complex manufacturing environments are the more significant correlating evaluations are in order to observe and operate processes efficiently. Only context-relating correlation of data can supply valuable information and therefore knowledge. Only by collecting comprehensive knowledge, processes can be optimized. This in turn is an important requirement to stay competitive - especially considering Industry 4.0.

Integrative data management - all collected data stored in a central database.


Here are some examples from real life:

Keeping on top of energy costs

In times of ever increasing energy costs and complex cost relief models, manufacturing companies need tools to collect and evaluate energy consumption. An integrated MES can correlate energy data with other information from production, i.e. processed orders or machine status. Instantly energy intensive production steps or energy guzzling machine are detected. Optimized planning like avoiding peak times is one of the principal activities and can only be achieved using an integrated solution as data from all areas must be linked. Ultimately, all these measures will achieve a reduction in energy costs.

Consumption Correlation by HYDRA - to know exactly how much energy is consumed with every order.

Quality made by MES

The product quality is also significant in the era of Industry 4.0. By using an integrated MES inspection, plans can be created simultaneously to production orders. When logging an order at the shop floor terminal the equivalent inspection order is instantly available. After a defined interval (based on time or cycle) due inspections are automatically identified and displayed on the shop floor terminal. Automatically collected quantities and the machine status can be evaluated. To further increase automation of quality inspection, collected process data can be used (i.e. temperature, pressure, flow velocity) which are now available if machines are connected. Therefore, quality levels improve.

Shop floor data collection and quality management in one system – operator in-production inspection directly at the machine with HYDRA.


Preventive Maintenance

An MES solution manages all production resources in one system containing apart from machinery also tools and other production aids. A common database can plan and evaluate all resources across all sectors. Planning an order in the shop floor scheduling, it is straight away apparent which tools are available or if the tool needs maintenance during utilization period. The central collection of cycles and utilization times enables preventative and needs-orientated maintenance. Therefore, utilization of tools increases and idle times are reduced.

From Planning to Controlling

Systems, that organized in a decentralized manner like required for Industry 4.0, require standards and to a certain extent planning or controlling. Direct connection to the shop floor enables to switch from true planning to a precisely accurate production control. Unforeseen events are detected instantly and the responsible members of staff can react in real time. If a machine breaks down, the graphical planning module in the MES system checks if there are alternatives available and how it affects the orders overall. The fully integrated MES solution can, apart from planning availability of tools and machines, also make allowances for resources like personnel, material stocks and energy consumption. Transparency achieved with the system safeguards the ability to react in production.

HYDRA Shop Floor Scheduling provides you with a multi-dimensional production planning and control.


Prospects: The Future is here

The future vision, illustrated by Industry 4.0, seems to be more tangible with the realization of the Future Concept MES 4.0. Growing networks which are presented by the horizontal integration of the MES environment, central data retention and the correctness of data are increasingly in the focus of production IT. Technical innovations ensure that obstacles are not insurmountable and successively disappear. Technical progress is unstoppable and thus the number of self-regulating systems at work is rising. An unrestricted access to relevant data is more important than ever. This goes to show that a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is not only suitable to support Industry 4.0 but a necessary requirement. It is also necessary for an MES to comply with the ISA-95 or other international norms like ANSI/ISA 95 or IEC 62264 completely. When evaluating MES providers keep in mind that many providers fall short on their “complete MES suite promise” so be careful and thorough.


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