IT Infrastructure Challenges

March 12, 2012
Since manufacturing execution system (MES) implementations are much like enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations in that production and information technology (IT) are closely involved throughout the process, the issue of integration between the infrastructures used by production and IT is unavoidable.

Citing an example from experience at a cellulose fiber plant, Dan Roessler, chemicals production management and execution industry marketing manager for AspenTech (, says the key challenges to the MES implementation there included establishing a consistent user interface and workflow while leveraging the existing IT infrastructure. 

“The data complexity proved to be challenging as the products included multiple grades and sub-grades, a variety of event types, and varied product testing frequencies that needed to be associated back to the product and production period,” he says. “This meant that an information management system was central to the installation, along with the visualization and reporting functions.”

To address these challenges, Roessler said the MES solution was used to deliver key production data into an electronic logsheet application displayed in control rooms throughout the plant for lab measurements, grade/run scheduling and process monitoring and adjustments.  The logsheet display includes a recipe grid, grade/run scheduling fields, recipe specifications, and lab results. 

Roessler adds that one design feature added to facilitate this was the use of color codes to designate new grade runs, deviations from specification limits, and other production events.

The MES in this application increased prime production by 4 percent while improving operator effectiveness and enabling resources to be deployed for other tasks.

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