Establishing Feedback loops, Leveraging Middleware, and Scaling with Cloud Platforms
By Harneet Gill, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, Rockwell Automation
Creating a Feedback Loop: Integrating ERP and MES Data into SCADA for Continuous Shop Floor Improvement
In the dynamic environment of modern manufacturing, the seamless flow of information is not just a one-way street from the shop floor to the top floor. The feedback loop, where data from enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) is integrated back into supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, is pivotal. This integration facilitates dynamic adjustments and continuous improvement processes on the shop floor, leading to a more responsive and agile manufacturing environment.
- SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition): A real-time system that monitors, controls, and collects data from industrial processes – these systems work in conjunction with Human / Machine Interface (HMI) systems and with various automation and control systems such as PLCs, DCSes, machine controllers, etc.
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning): Provides a bird’s eye view of the entire enterprise operations, managing resources, procurement, production planning, finance, and more.
- MES (Manufacturing Execution System): Bridges the gap between planning (often residing in ERP) and execution (often monitored by SCADA). It tracks real-time production data, manages work orders, and maintains product quality.
- Production Scheduling: An ERP system often plans production based on orders, inventory levels, and lead times. Adjustments in the schedule, when communicated to MES and then to SCADA, can lead to real-time changes in machine operations, shifts, and material allocations.
- Quality Metrics: MES systems monitor quality metrics in real time. If there's a deviation from the acceptable quality levels, MES can provide feedback to SCADA systems to adjust machine parameters and ensure product quality.
- Predictive Maintenance: Both ERP (from a historical data perspective) and MES (from a real-time data perspective) can predict when a machine is likely to fail. This information can be relayed to SCADA to make necessary adjustments, such as reducing machine speed or scheduling downtime.
- Inventory Levels: ERP systems continuously monitor inventory levels. If there's a shortage of raw materials, this information can be relayed via MES to SCADA to adjust production rates or switch to alternative production lines.
- Performance Metrics: MES tracks performance metrics such as Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE). Insights derived from these metrics can be communicated back to SCADA systems to tweak machine operations and enhance efficiency.
- Demand Fluctuations: Any changes in demand captured in the ERP, whether a spike or a drop, can be quickly communicated to the SCADA system via MES. This ensures that production rates are adjusted in near-real time to match the demand.
- Feedback on Machine Behavior: MES, while analyzing data, might discover certain patterns or behaviors in machines that can be optimized. This insight can be fed back to SCADA for real-time tuning of machine operations.
- Process Optimization: Based on historical and real-time data analysis in ERP and MES, specific process bottlenecks or inefficiencies might be identified. Adjustments to mitigate these can be executed through SCADA.
- Middleware Solutions: Use middleware solutions to facilitate data communication and translation between ERP, MES, and SCADA.
- Standardized Data Formats: Adopt standard data formats and protocols to ensure seamless data interchange.
- Real-time Data Transfer Protocols: Implement fast and efficient data transfer protocols, such as MQTT or OPC UA, to ensure timely feedback.
- Cybersecurity: As systems become more interconnected, it’s essential to bolster cybersecurity measures to protect data integrity and system operations.
- To the MES, prompting an immediate pause in production and rerouting tasks to other machines.
- To the ERP, updating the expected production output and potentially adjusting inventory or delivery schedules.
- To the QMS, registering a potential quality concern if any products were manufactured during the overheating event.