Simplifying Plant Floor to Enterprise Data Integration | Automation.com

Simplifying Plant Floor to Enterprise Data Integration

June 162015
Simplifying Plant Floor to Enterprise Data Integration

By Bill Lydon, Editor

The need to improve manufacturing operations and maintenance using real-time data is creating a greater need to efficiently link larger volumes of data from controllers to the enterprise. In fact, the ability to easily link plant floor to the enterprise is a fundamental element of achieving Industry 4.0 and applying the Internet of Things (IoT) concept to manufacturing. However, most manufacturing plants operate using a large number of disparate industrial control device types and IT systems. Connecting real-time controller information to operations, maintenance, and enterprise systems is not an easy task. Many of these manufacturers have had to write custom software each time a new device is added, a costly and time-consuming process.

I discussed this challenge with David De La Rosa, Director of deviceWISE Solution for ILS Technology, a Telit Company. He described a more efficient method to link plant floor data to other manufacturing and enterprise systems using the deviceWISE industrial automation platform. David also talked in detail about how deviceWISE has helped Honda Manufacturing.

Architecture

The deviceWISE platform bridges real-time information from PLCs and other industrial controllers to enterprise systems with direct native interfaces for speed and efficiency. The deviceWISE platform is extremely versatile in that it can reside as middleware on a computer running Windows, Linux, AIX, Solaris, HPUX and other operating systems or embedded in PLCs, controllers, sensors or other edge devices. Deploying the deviceWISE platform on industrial computers or embedded in controllers and PLCs eliminates the need for a commercial computer on the plant floor.

Architecture links plant floor and enterprise.

Configuration

Rather than creating hard to maintain custom programming, your automation and operations people simply configure and maintain information connections with icons in a drag and drop development environment that are processed by a local logic engine. This approach significantly reduces labor hours and the requirement to maintain a highly skilled programming staff. This is particularly important to companies challenged with increasing revenue while reducing head count. The deviceWISE platform maintains real-time data integration with high-performance interfaces to PLCs, databases, ERP and other systems.

The user can also easily configure, validate, scale, aggregate, and create logic to refine the data processing load on the enterprise systems. This accomplishes the goal of connecting and integrating a range of systems including production machines and processes with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing resource planning (MRP) systems, manufacturing execution system (MES) and SCADA applications without custom programming. The deviceWISE platform supports common system elements including popular PLCs from Siemens, Mitsubishi, Rockwell Automation, Omron, etc. The platform is also compatible with virtually any database, message queuing and application server system available, including IBM, SAP, ORACLE and Microsoft.

Configuration of relationships is accomplished in a drag and drop development environment.

Users may also define relationships to bridge PLCs in a peer-to-peer fashion and to efficiently move information for synchronizing production, tracking operations, and logging transactions.

System access is controlled by configuring access rules for various job roles. Permissions can be set for specific device variables, enterprise access, specific operations or access to specific equipment or processes. Protection is provided down to the tag level.

In the event that the connection with enterprise applications is interrupted, data is automatically saved and will be delivered when access has been re-established, assuring no data is lost.

The software supports unsolicited messaging from PLCs to ensure data integrity and delivery by handling data transmissions as transactions versus using unreliable and complex polling handshake interlocks. Using unsolicited messages, deviceWISE allows for a large device-count integration as polling is no longer required. With this approach, integrating hundreds of PLCs is possible.

The common configuration method, regardless of data sources (i.e. PLCs, MES, SQL, SAP) and communications type, is a harmonized systems approach with consistent behavior and interface documentation. The means users only need to learn one set of tools, saving time and simplifying operations.

The Honda Experience

The Honda manufacturing plant in Alabama deployed deviceWISE to improve plant floor to enterprise data flow for more efficient production. The plant is a 4.2 million square foot facility that produces the Honda Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, MDX, and V-6 engines. There is a mix of PLCs including Omron, Rockwell Automation and Mitsubishi. System software includes a proprietary manufacturing execution system (MES), DB2 and MSSQL, and ActivPlant.

The organization was challenged to ramp up production without increasing staff size. Departments were reorganized to bring the IT and Plant Floor operations into one department for a central focus on production. The group was tasked to stay lean and flexible while improving data quality from more advanced manufacturing tools. This meant more real-time data needed to be captured and communicated to manufacturing and enterprise systems. The MES tracking application running on a large UNIX platform relied on custom code to communicate and gather information from controllers, requiring significant reprogramming each time changes were made. In addition, there were performance issues extracting data from controllers.

Honda goal to reduce custom programming.

This led to the deployment of deviceWISE, which has increased system responsiveness and eliminated custom programming. Plant device configuration is simplified, with Honda personnel now configuring data collection and business logic. Complex ladder logic was eliminated and PLC scan rates are no longer impacted by enterprise activity. Andre Swain, Plant Floor IT Manager for Honda, recently commented that deviceWISE helped Honda overcome a number of challenges including being able to support growth in business and equipment data, reducing complexity of PLC configuration, and improving the quality of equipment data.

To learn more about this application, visit ilstechnology.com.

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