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`Next generation` MES pinpoints production bottlenecks

01 November, 2005

`Next generation` MES pinpoints production bottlenecks

The Australian industrial software developer Citect, soon to become part of Schneider Electric, has developed a "next generation" MES (manufacturing execution system) designed to provide real-time information on plant production, helping managers to identify production bottlenecks, and causes of downtime and poor product quality.

More than 100 man-years of development have gone into the modular Ampla MES system which is designed to identify problems before they affect a business. Citect claims that the software will usually pay for itself in less than a year and that, in some cases, the payback could be as short as a few days.

Traditional MES systems are usually customised for a particular installation, and can be expensive to maintain. According to Citect, they can be difficult to integrate with other systems and cannot be changed easily or rapidly.

It claims that the modular Ampla system is much easier to integrate with other systems and allows customers to configure it the way they want. It does not use custom code and complies with the ISA 95 standard. "The system adds real data - it does not just collect SCADA data," says Jeremy Bolton, Citect`s Ampla sales and marketing manager.

The software is designed to sit between a company`s ERP (enterprise resource planning) system and its shopfloor automation systems. It performs tasks such as gathering data across all levels of the enterprise, analysing this data, and presenting it in easily understandable formats.

Ampla`s modules targets different aspects of the production process including: quality; tracking (providing traceability of ingredients); metrics; planning; maintenance; downtime (recording all plant stoppages in real time); cost (using real-time information such as energy costs); and knowledge (storing drawings, specifications, documents and photos). Inventory and history modules are due to added next year.

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