Fast Work, Fast ROI in Materials Science

7 min video  /  4 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: 20,000
  • Screens: 120
  • Clients: 20
  • Alarms: 100
  • Devices used: 20
  • Architectures used: Standard
  • Databases used: 3, SQL Server
  • Historical data logged: More than 630

Project Overview

Grantek created a solution for SiO2 that involved both Ignition and Sepasoft’s Business Connector and Web Services modules. SiO2 was scaling up its production process and also investing in a new ERP system. To get maximum value out of the ERP, SiO2 wanted to implement an MES system to improve work-order handling and reconciliation. The solution, built on Ignition and Sepasoft, allowed SiO2 to reduce the number of ERP workstations needed by about 20. This led to significant savings in licensing costs, hardware costs, and IT operating expenses moving forward. Return on investment is expected within one year. And the project was delivered in approximately one year, from requirements-gathering to commissioning. Grantek helped SiO2 develop requirements; handle work-order management, OEE, and recipe management; and tie into the ERP system with Sepasoft.



While investing in a new ERP system, SiO2 did not want to create new, paper-based procedures. Also, new ERP clients were very costly to implement. And the site had no OEE system or production dashboards that would indicate to management how the facility would operate.

SiO2 is also rapidly expanding and bringing on new pieces of equipment. It was important for it to develop not only the infrastructure to support this growth, but well-designed templates that make it easy to add machines.

SiO2 currently has 41 machines in its operating environment with plans to add 10 machines in the coming year. Because of the rapid growth, the system needed to be designed for the future as well as the present.



Grantek began this process with a discovery session. This session allowed SiO2 and Grantek to collaborate on all of the functional requirements of the MES system that will allow SiO2 to achieve its business-level goals, as defined by the ERP Blueprint.

From there, Grantek developed a new MES system using Sepasoft’s MES modules. The bulk of the solution was using the new Sepasoft Business Connector module along with Web Services to directly interface with the SAP Business One ERP system. Grantek also developed OEE templates that allow SiO2 to monitor performance on all 41 of its operating units.

The OEE template can automatically report downtime reasons to the system, and it’s also fed into the ERP system for financial analysis.

Scrap reasons are automatically tracked where possible but can be manually entered as well, with security.

A template was developed that allows SiO2 to send information to OEMs to incorporate MES logic into their machines directly and as part of the RFP process. This allows for reduced development costs overall. With the templates in place, and with unlimited licensing from Inductive Automation and Sepasoft, a new machine can be brought online in just a couple of hours.

The recipe module was deployed to ensure that the correct recipe as defined by the ERP system is loaded to the machine that the work order is assigned to.

As a bonus, SPC was implemented on a new, fully automated line with a rapid startup because the Ignition and Sepasoft infrastructure was already in place. Having already had the MES infrastructure and Area Model developed, Grantek added approximately 100 points of measurement to an SPC system. Grantek worked with the vendor to develop a template that can be used across any new machines (though with different measurements).



Work-order tracking was implemented on 41 machines with various degrees of automation. This new system tracks downtime, scrap, and handles the quality sampling plan.

MES was brought online in parallel with ERP. This was very challenging and a unique situation.  However, this timeline allowed SiO2 to not have to develop intermediary SOPs. It also helped with paperless manufacturing from an early stage.

The new system reduces operator training; MES handles the bulk of interactions, allowing operators to focus on running machines.

Accuracy of inventory has been improved; this is extremely important as SiO2 scales up production.

Some of the lines are FDA-regulated (and all of the lines are audited by customers who are FDA-regulated). Though the MES system is not considered a system of record, special considerations were made in terms of ensuring data integrity.

Project Information

Created By:   Grantek

For 40 years, top manufacturers in food & beverage, CPG, and pharmaceuticals have called upon Grantek to solve their most complex business and manufacturing challenges. Grantek automates pharmaceutical and food & beverage manufacturing operations, including integration with business systems, for seamless solutions. Grantek helps customers meet the stringent requirements and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution. Grantek’s team of professionals located in 17 offices across the globe deliver solutions to complex problems in smart manufacturing, industrial networking, automation, and industrial safety.


Project For:   SiO2 Materials Science

SiO2 Materials Science is a materials science company with deep roots in chemistry and engineering. The company uses proprietary, advanced material science to bring its clients’ innovation to life. SiO2’s patented technology applies a unique glass-like barrier onto any plastic surface. Its products are engineered to combine the durability and dimensional precision of plastic with the physical and barrier properties of glass. SiO2’s most prominent solutions are in primary packaging for biological drugs and blood collection tubes for genomic testing and liquid biopsies.

Posted on October 1, 2020