Why are standards such as ISA-88 and ISA-95 helpful? (sidebar)

May 1, 2005
The ISA-88 and ISA-95 standards, promulgated by the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society, have gone a long way to make data transfer between systems fluid and useful.

While the ISA-88 standard has been widely accepted for some years in standardizing automated information within the plant batch automation systems, the ISA-95 standard has only recently gained traction. The ISA-95 standard, released in 2000, allows control data to flow outside the plant floor and be understood by enterprise applications. “The ISA-88 has been around for a long time. It looks more at terminology and modeling on the factory floor,” explains Paul Myers, InBatch product manager at Wonderware, an Invensys company based in Lake Forest, Calif. “The ISA-95 is the standard between the factory floor and the ERP. It defines the factory floor so the ERP can understand it.”

While ISA-88 is well established, ISA-95 is still gaining acceptance. (It took ISA-88 more than 10 years to “catch on.”) “The ISA-88 is implemented everywhere I go,” says Bruce Jensen, manager of system support at Yokogawa Corp. of America, in Newnan, Ga. “The ISA-95 isn’t implemented as much. Suppliers have not all jumped on board.”

The ISA-95 standard was mostly academic and was used predominantly in custom applications, but this is changing quickly, now that SAP has endorsed ISA-95. With that, most control vendors and enterprise software companies are rushing to standardize on ISA-95. “SAP, control system vendors and manufacturers have committed resources to the development and implementation of the ISA-95 standard in order to make integration simpler and more off-the-shelf,” says Gary Silverman, senior manufacturing consultant, Emerson Process Management, Austin, Texas. “The standard is not just for data and messages, but also for tools such as XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and Java. The connectors are also becoming more standard.”

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Batch Processing meets the Enterprise