How Campaign Manager Tech Benefits Batch Manufacturing

April 22, 2024
In batch manufacturing operations, a campaign manager is a database module that acts as a translator between ERP and scheduling software and the batch engine to prevent errors and over-production.

Batch processing operations are ideal for large scale manufacturing of products that are assembled and modified in a series of stages or steps. When connected to a batch management software system, the number of ingredients, execution stages and degree of processing complexity can be handled by relatively unsophisticated operators. Typical batch processing end results include lower cost per unit, tight quality control and meticulous records of production.

Enterprise resource planning and scheduling systems are ubiquitous to modern manufacturing and are frequently connected to plant floor automation systems. For simple batch operations with savvy operators, this connection can be straightforward, particularly when aided by a batch management solution. However, in operations that require rapid processing or changeover between many in-progress batch orders, this can be challenging. The same is true if batch processing requirements for a single order are complex or require an amount of time that spans beyond the purview of a single operator or team. That’s why integration between the master resource and scheduling system and the batch operating environment can be enhanced with the use a campaign manager. 

ECS Solutions (ECS) routinely delivers a campaign management module as part of batch projects. This solution is an in-house, database-based module which acts as translator between the enterprise management and the batch engine. The product is agnostic of the ERP system, the batch software suite and the control hardware which means it can be deployed on virtually any batch management system. 

Overall scheduling occurs in the enterprise system, but that system is rarely aware of all of the detailed information available in the factory batch system. Over a longer campaign, manual interventions or other factors might necessitate adding or deleting batches to fulfill an order. Also, ingredient-specific considerations might alter the final requirements, and, without real time oversight, you may be faced with an incorrect number of batches at the end.

Another example would be pausing or holding a lengthy campaign if there was a need to run a single or small group of another product. This could create challenges for preparation and tracking of information—tasks that a campaign manager easily provides.

The campaign manager runs on a physical or virtual server, normally in concert with some other element of the batch system. Thus, the hard costs for the module are low. This module is frequently installed at the outset but can be retrofitted into most systems once the client learns of how it can simplify campaign management for the daily users. 

In the grand scheme of things, this is really an inexpensive part of the entire batch solution and it can be applied to almost any system, even after the fact. ECS’s clients find that the cost of the campaign manager versus the training and subsequent time required for effective batch list management helps to quickly pay for the module and its implementation. 

Other benefits include the prevention of errors and over-production, especially with expensive ingredients or operations. The total system, including the campaign manager, eliminates manual paperwork and provides an unparalleled level of traceability.  

Batch manufacturing agility and documentation are both enhanced by adding a campaign management module to a proper batch management system. That’s why an effective campaign manager, as delivered and configured by experts like the ECS team, will provide a low added cost way to maximize the batch system investment.  

John Parraga is batch process specialist of ECS Solutions, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about ECS Solutions, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange.

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