Interview with Jochen Brinkmann concerning the MES trends, IT-Production 11/2014
Replacement for classic client/server solutions
INCLUDIS Inc. relies on web technology for its Manufacturing Execution System. In an interview, CEO Jochen Brinkmann describes why this approach is replacing the client/server structure in many production scenarios.
INCLUDIS Inc. long ago started relying exclusively on web technology with its Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Is that a viable concept?
Yes, we see clearly that web technologies are being accepted in production and are replacing classic client/server solutions. Today, the technology is so advanced that MES users also want to visualize their production as a web solution. Our technological approach offers a unified platform for this and no longer provides for a mix of applications and browsers. The user can access the entire MES data on the server via a web browser, also for purposes of editing.
What differences result from operation of the system without the classic client/server structure?
The classic client/server structure usually requires that the software is installed on local clients in order to enable data access by the MES solution. In view of the increasing use of cloud systems, this classic structure is often no longer sustainable. Regardless of whether production enterprises operate their MES applications in the in-house IT infrastructure or as a cloud computing system, only the decentral automation components in the acquisition area are necessary for data communication with machines and systems. User input and queries are executed centrally in the system from end data terminals via the web browser.
Today, the web technology is being promoted especially by companies with international production sites and a central IT department.
System data can be obtained through any browser. What requirements does that place on the IT infrastructure across departments?
The requirements placed on the IT infrastructure are comparable to the use of other web solutions already in operation at many companies. The coordination is done via the IT department, which also defines the internal security guidelines for the MES operation.
How do your solutions support data exchange with other business systems?
We understand the main task of an MES application to be the real-time acquisition and visualization of the production data. Event-driven data exchange is carried out by means of defined bi-directional interfaces to business intelligence, enterprise resource planning or quality assurance systems, so that all integrated systems can access the acquired real-time MES data without restriction.
Many manufacturing companies shy away from the initial expense of the introduction of shop floor IT. Is it possible to reduce the starting thresholds?
Production enterprises can use the web technology to initially visualize their processes via selected production areas as SaaS software-as-a-service, before the roll-out for the entire company and before the decision to lease or buy.
In what direction will you continue development of your solutions?
The current focus of further development is clearly on the integration of mobile devices such as tablet PCs and smartphones for shop floor dialogs with the provision of real-time information from production. Applications and apps on these devices require the development of simplified user dialogs for the different access levels, which can be used to access production information at any time.
The Industry 4.0 debate is about networked production. How do you see the use of MES solutions in this future field?
Implementation of the Industry 4.0 vision with its integration of man and machine, Internet and intelligent, decentral end devices, will increasingly require the creation of technical standards for communication between the single digital components. The task of the MES providers is to integrate these components in their systems, to filter data and to visualize information in real time and universally.