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Advantages of Connecting ERP Information System to Process Computers (PCS)

In attempt to maximize automation of the input / output operations, in and from the IT system,, in order to maximize its performance, ERP is connected with specific software from dedicated terminals (ex. bar code readers, PDAs, etc)       

Through the dematerialization of information its digital switch-over through the large-scale use of EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) systems, the ERP systems offer to management the entire support it needs for specific processing. 

Also, if for the modules that manage the acquisition or sales activities, there are electronic terminals that generate digital data in their software that are taken over by the ERP via the data port, for the production activity ERPs generally stop at the border with production process itself. It means that, the data provided by the system is not used directly in the production process but is materialized in specific documents made available to operators from the production sphere. Therefore, these human operators will provide ERP the entry data about the evolution and outcome of the production process. In this article we won't discuss about the level of accuracy and consistency of these data provided by human operators, but we will just note that data is already "filtered" before it enters the system. If delivery of the barcode readers contributed to automation process and made it possible to optimize this process, for monitoring production processes, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) interconnectivity (PCS) is much more difficult to create.   

In order to reveal the need to collect data in digital format from the production area, first it is necessary to see what are the expectations (needs) of an integrated computer system in the production area. We will continue to refer strictly to ERP production modules. 

In the registering process of system information related to the production, ERPs manage both the manufacturing launch, the evolution of the manufacturing and also, the ending process of this. Regardless the information flow it manages to model and lead these processes,  the system automation is interrupted by the need to manually enter data. In the case of manufacturing, the typical example is the manufacturing report. This document, which is the justifying document in the management accounting, for the registering of production, on one hand, considered as an entry into management and on the other hand, the same document (manufacturing report), has the role of recording the consumption ( Outputs) of raw materials and materials related to the declared production. [1] The role of the human operator is illustrated in Figure 1. 

 

Figure 1. Manually input of production data in the ERP system

An optimal flow of the data is obtained when the necessary information for manufacturing are becoming effective commands for the machines that compete at the production process and the consumptions related to this manufacture, physically highlighted by the quantities of raw materials, materials released in the production process are provided in digital format Directly to the computer system, as presented in Figure 2. 

Figure 2. Real-time delivery of information on the production process to ERP  

How can this be achieved? By automating the production process and its computerized monitoring.   

How is computerized monitoring of the production process made? By using process computers (Process Computer System).   

Here's how we managed to connect ERP systems with PCS in terms of needs.          

The dual, technical and economic type of the records provided by the involved equipments in the of the production process automation.  

The involved equipments in automation of a technological process can be industrial robots, numerical control machines (CN), computerized processing centers, in case of assembly industry, or for the process industry (chemical, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics) can be machines equipped with electronic dispensers, electronic flowmeters, electronic scales, etc. 

All these machines and equipments receive digital commands and the effect of these commands is to execute an action. This action has a dual effect. Technological, by executing a physical action (ex. dosage) and economic action by recording the quantity of raw material, fuel, energy, etc. in the technological process or by weighing/counting (the quantity registering) of the fabricated products.  

This collection of records (dosages, weights, etc.) provided by automated (computerized) devices from the productive sphere is difficult to achieve due to the high specification of the involved equipments in the process of production automation. Because of this reason, in the presentation brochure of an ERP, we will not usually see connecting modules with production automation software. In order to achieve this interconnectivity, a market for PCS - ERP interfacing solutions, or PCS - other IT solutions has been developed.   

Advantages 

It is a real benefit, for the consistency and veracity of data from an ERP, connect to the process computers. The benefits would be: 

  1. Increasing the speed of process information regarding the evolution of the production process by eliminating the introduction of data into the system by human operators. 
  2. Maximum accuracy (depending on the technical tolerance of the automation equipments) in the consumption recording related to the produced output. This accuracy will have valuable effects in the judicious inventories management.  
  3. Verifying the technological discipline in real time, not "post factum" when closing the entire manufacturing order. Possible deviations from the technological consumption standards can be highlighted from the first moment therefore, it will be possible to interfere with the necessary corrections on the parameters of the production process.
  4. Providing real-time information for cost-effective calculation. 
  5. Enhancing the accuracy of provided data by ERP to decision support systems or Business Intelligence.   

In the current society, when economic efficiency is the predominant indicator that separates the companies with productive activity, and not only, the automation and monitoring of the manufacturing process, can lead to the achievement of the strategic objectives of the company and implicitly to reach the estimated profit rate.     

Conclusions  

Regarding the connection of ERP to PCS, we think that when some technological lines are upgraded, it is desirable a collaboration between with specialized engineers and IT engineers in order to maximize the possibilities offered by the new technologies, therefore it brings additional value to the activity of both "Actors" and in the end of course, providing a healthy, reliable, validated, real-time data base.  This quality information will ensure the implementation premises, connected with ERP, of a Decision Support System (SSD) and why not the top of IT management system - Business Intelligence.


Bibliography 

  1. Res, M.-D., Informatization of industrial production management, Publishing Risoprint, Cluj-Napoca, 2011

 

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