Designing MES architecture is a funny job. People think that MES is the solution of a full set of headaches but actually it’s a way to solve and improve processes by their own effort.
Some of them are like fat boys that think they can eat junk food and take a pill to fix their obesity problem. On the other hand, systems integrators, bound to a customer/supplier relationship, ignore the customer IT architecture.
Why is this happening?
They sell huge license fees plus a ton of programmers’ hours without a plan. They sell junk food to the boy, telling themselves: “If you don’t do it, somebody else will”. It is not a smart behavior.
But now let’s talk about Enterprise Architecture. “Enterprise … what?”.
No Sir or Madam it’s not your headquarters’ building design. It’s the baseline of your IT. I want to be clear: you can’t build an IT system without a general plan (Enterprise Architecture) exactly as you cannot start a business without a business plan.My dear fat boy, if you want to build your six-pack you must regulate your alimentation, too. Working hard at gym is not enough.
The starting point of the chaos is when you feel that IT is changing too fast and you have no time to plan ahead. An agile methodology is what you need but … if you have a destination and a planned route. If the destination is “supporting your business processes”, the route is not putting together unrelated and opportunistic pieces of software.
Maybe your IT system is actually a puzzle of different pieces (different machines, heterogeneous production lines, PLCs of different vendors tied together by a MES solution that costed you more in developers’ hours than in license fee) and the picture is blurred (your software is magic and you are planning to hire the system integrator guy) but this does not mean you have to throw everything into the trash. Define your destination (aka, Enterprise Architecture) and PLAN your route. You probably are in a perfect situation to adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology in an Industry 4.0 project.
“People lie”, is the credo of Dr House. It’s partially true: you, me, everybody just does not feel comfortable discussing about problems in their own processes, responsibility or not well defined rules.
This behavior confuses the MES’s system integration process mostly if you do not have a design, an architecture, a best practice to be compliant with. From a process point of view the MES architecture is well designed in the ISA 95 (ISO 62264).
It’s a sparring partner along your trip that helps you to keep the designed route. Perhaps you will never implement a fully ISA 95 compliant system but it’s your processes map and you needed it for the initial design and whenever you (or your system integrator) are lost.
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