About the Client
The client designs and delivers automated control system solutions for the Food, Animal Nutrition, and Agri-business industry. The client’s customers rely on them when unique automation and integration solutions are required.
The client’s solutions allow Plant Management personnel to minimize ingredient and production errors, improve efficiencies, and control their feed mill operation all from a computer screen.In addition to plant floor control, Client also provides full data integration with feed mill manager software, ERP, QA/QC, formulation/recipe management, laboratory and business systems.
Various manufacturing plants automated by the client received their manufacturing briefs through ERP systems at the end customer locations. In the absence of a connector between the two systems, information was downloaded manually from the ERP and uploaded to the manufacturing software. Moreover, the plant manager had to personally deliver rule based planned order details to multiple production sites.
This led to production downtime, efficiency loss, delayed orders and reduced responsiveness to end customer needs.
Developing integrations between ERP’s and the client’s manufacturing execution software was a very real gap,the client engaged Silicus to develop a “plant automation connector” that connects the shop-floor systems with the enterprise applications.
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Silicus developed a customized software solution on the Microsoft.NET platform to integrate the shop-floor systems with the enterprise applications.
The following workflow explains the process of "generating a detailed work order" from the enterprise application (SAP/ERP), getting it converted in the "Plant Automation Connector" and handing it over to the Shop floor automation software for "producing the final finished goods"
- Step 1:
SAP Modules provided a consolidated view of manufacturing plans for the specific plant, including:
- Equipment Status
- Product Quality
- Cost Estimation
- Step 2:
Information from the SAP modules are converted in the “Plant Automation Connector” running a rule based algorithm, rendering the information available in a language that can be read by the machines in various Plant Sites.
- Step 3:
Converted information gets transferred to the Shop floor automation system, and gets fed into the machines that carry out the manufacturing instructions.
- Step 4:
The connector also facilitated information flow in the opposite direction, transferring data back to the SAP Modules through rules and algorithms.
An added feature developed was a “Monitoring & Alerting system” that automatically alerted SAP and Shop floor automation software in the event of a breakdown. It also allowed the Plant Manager to review the logs of unprocessed transactions and setup the control for processing all the backlogs once the server was up.
Microsoft.NET 4.0 Framework
SQL Server/ Express Edition 2008 R2- 2012
Visual Studio 2012
The client enjoyed 40% revenue growth on releasing the new software connector. The connector kept shop personnel focused on manufacturing from start to finish allowing end customers to increase profitability through reduced manufacturing costs, and quicker turnaround times.
Integration of business/manufacturing domains
The Plant Automation Connector integrated the automation layer (shop floor) with different SAP business systems (top floor). It allowed the SAP systems to easily access shop floor data in a secure, reliable, and easily configurable way, from the smallest embedded controller up to the SAP enterprise systems.
The automated system helped Plant Engineers to bring expertise in plant-floor processes by relying on fact driven information that is required for seamless integration and thereby providing more accurate forecasting and budgeting. This boosts the product delivery performance and ensures manufacturing excellence throughout the supply chain.