Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Questions to Ask to Speed Monetization of Product Innovations

Mike K Williams, MESA ERM Working Group member

Here is a short list of questions to ask yourself if you are looking to accelerate the monetization of product and material innovations.

  1. Have you ever been frustrated by a lack of information you have about your plant’s capability to produce a new product or material, otherwise known as the process fit? 
  2. Have you ever missed a production order or produced off-grade material because the recipe generated in R&D and approved for sale, does not quite match the plant floor configuration?  
  3. Have you ever lost a new sales opportunity because of the excessive time it takes to coordinate all the necessary information and approvals for new or updated recipes to meet the promise date? 
  4. Do you have multiple manufacturing sites which produce the same product but are not identical in equipment capability?
  5. Would you like to have more agility in your manufacturing sites to take advantage of underutilized assets?

If you have any of these situations, you should be interested in Enterprise Recipe Management (ERM). It is a vehicle to expedite the New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI) work process and thus monetize innovation more quickly.

One of the challenges in achieving this objective is resolving the discontinuity between traditional ERP-based PLM solutions and shop floor information and control systems.  To successfully manufacture a product one must know both WHAT to produce (composition of matter) as well as HOW to produce it (procedure and control constraints). 


Today most manufacturers attack the information exchange problem between ERP and the shop floor with super human efforts and electronic paper systems. To introduce a new product with alternative raw materials or new processing technique, companies will fly product development engineers to the target site to provide a hands on transfer of manufacturing information and assist in production qualification.  

The travelling engineers typically have spreadsheet-based recipe cards combined with paper work instructions that must then be manually converted into the target plant’s standard operating procedures and process automation control strategies.  This can be an exhaustive, and at times trial and error, process which takes significant time and resources to perform.  Human variability, time/effort, and the business risk necessary to manage change becomes a huge barrier to new product introduction.


The potential solution space to this problem can be found in the ISA 88 Part 3 recipe standard and most specifically in expanded MESA B2MML schemas.  The ERM specification methodology is an extension of the previously published MESA XML based techniques to import General /Site Recipes from the ERP layer, and includes the information to transform and export to the Master and Control recipes used on the shop floor.

Coupled with a user friendly, web-based data entry screen both product and process definitions can be captured in a widely accepted, neutral format.  Vendor specific solutions can then use the recipe product and process requirements to transform them into Master Recipes.  The transformed Master Recipes can then be scheduled with specific production orders and equipment selection for execution. Then, cased on the need for recurring product recipe changes, a library of equipment capability templates may be created and maintained to expedite the automated transformation process.

For the most part the technology required to implement ERM is available through various OEMs and systems integrators.  What is lacking are clear, consistent, and repeatable work process and tool sets to accomplish the transformation task at a reasonable cost.  

MESA’s ERM team hopes that by providing use cases and simple solution prototypes for different process industries that a common approach can be recommended within their own companies using their preferred vendor solutions architecture.

If you would like to learn more about ERM, check out the MESA white paper library for the following white papers:

MESA white paper #49: Enterprise Recipe Management – A Case for Change
MESA white paper #51: Enterprise Recipe Management – Recipe Transformation Methodology

About the Author: 

Mike K Williams is the co-leader of the Enterprise Recipe Management (ERM) working team which is addressing the issues around recipe specification, transformation, communication and synchronization of product and process recipe information from enterprise systems to the shop floor. He is an independent consultant on the topics of process control and information systems as the sole proprietor of Modern Automation Consulting Services, LLC.  Mike previously worked for 39 years as an internal manufacturing IT project manager and business consultant for The Dow Chemical Company.

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