ERP, MES, WMS, APS… Why the ISA-95-standard?

29.5.2017

Internet of Things (IoT) and digitization are today’s hot topics.  In practice, they more or less refer to the same thing. Intelligent, networked products and services require a new type of multi-layered technology infrastructure. IoT does not run on a single technology or platform; it covers a vast array of technologies. IoT allows things that couldn’t ever be imagined even during the monolithic, massive ERP projects. The ISA-95 standard also enables the use of best-of-breed –software to improve light ERP solutions.

Flexible manufacturing has a continuous need for agile development and, therefore, an increasing demand for modular systems. The ISA-95 standard defines the functions between the ERP system and systems intended for work management, such as MES and WMS. It also makes managing separate modules easier in addition to helping with maintenance during their life-cycles.

Local adjustability and adabtability

Modularity brings benefits to companies of all sizes. Modularity allows diversifying supplier risk, acquiring the best possible module for the specific purpose and significant cost-savings. Not many ERP systems are the best for all areas of manufacturing and logistics. Generally, an ERP system should not be customized for functions that it is not intended for. Customizing ERP systems is usually expensive and subject to risk.

When acquiring a new system intended for managing operative work, the entire architecture of the company and operational principles should be considered. A sustainable system architecture generates significant benefits during its life-cycle.

For companies that have several different types of manufacturing facilities, ISA-95 offers a framework for building a modular system architecture. The company may have one shared ERP, which is connected to several local systems at each location. The most typical of these include manufacturing execution systems (MES) for finite scheduling and management of manufacturing and warehouse management systems (WMS).

This type of architecture allows the development of functions and automation at different manufacturing facilities locally, but also sustainably. A single, shared ERP system ensures that all of the business-level information, such as accounting, projects and resources are uniform everywhere.

When renewing the ERP system, operative systems used in manufacturing do not need to be replaced, which makes adoption of the new ERP easier and less prone to risk. Similarly, in a situation where the ERP is not functioning properly or the link with the WMS, for example, is disrupted, the warehouse management system is still able to continue operation for a period of time.

Leanware supports the ISA-95-standard

LeanwareMES is a typical example of an advanced MES, which is flexible and adapts to the customer’s local processes. It allows the smooth integration with both the high- and low-level information systems in a manner where they create a system architecture that works for the customer and is easy to maintain.

Pekka Saarelainen
Head of Consulting
Leanware Oy