Standards play an important role in fostering technological progress–both in the willingness of consumers to adopt the technologies and suppliers in developing products to meet the standards.
In our world of process automation, standards have continued to advance from base-level digital communications protocols to higher-level data communications standards for process manufacturers. The ISA-95 (S95) or IEC/ISO 62264 family of standards as they are globally known are an example of a set of data standards for the interface between enterprise planning systems and automation systems.
I had a chance to get a preview of a whitepaper that Emerson’s Shenling Yang is developing around S95 and the XML-based implementation of this standard called Business To Manufacturing Markup Language (B2MML). You may recall Shenling from an earlier post on project timelines. She is now a data integration specialist in the Life Sciences industry center.
As stated in an ISA press release this past January on B2MML improvements:
B2MML was developed by the WBF’s XML Working Group to provide manufacturing companies with a freely available XML Schema implementation of the ISA-95 Enterprise – Control System Integration Standard.
You can get a sense for just how detailed and comprehensive these standards are by viewing some of the schema documents available on the World Batch Forum’s B2MML web page. Beyond the common schema organized around the S95 data model, other schemas exist for equipment, extensions, maintenance, materials, personnel, process segments, product definitions, production capabilities, production performance, and production schedules. Warning, these schema documents are not light reading!
On projects requiring workflow improvements and/or paperless operations, Shenling and the team follow B2MML data definitions to be consistent with the S95 standard. Because leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like SAP support B2MML, Shenling finds that it simplifies connectivity and reduces the overall engineering effort for integration between the ERP and manufacturing execution systems like Compliance Suite. Ongoing maintenance is also reduced since the information exchanged between applications follows well-defined data definitions.
An example is an order coming down from SAP in an XML-formatted document complying with the B2MML Production Performance schema. The project team used transaction templates, along with the Compliance Suite support component and the process order XML from SAP to generate the actual transaction documents to be passed from the ERP to Compliance Suite. The automated parts are handled by the DeltaV Batch system and other parts of the process like materials management, laboratory information, and proof of personnel training are sent to their respective workflow processes.
The results of these workflows and batch data from the automation system are consolidated in an electronic batch record, which is a critical piece in reducing the overall cycle time on the way to releasing the product for sale.
Update: Gary Mintchell reports on his Feed Forward blog today that the World Batch Forum has announced version 4 of the B2MML standard and some of the additions to this standard. Here’s the announcement from the WBF.