Sepasoft MES: From Edge to Enterprise

Ignition Community Live

57 min video  /  1 minute read

A manufacturer’s efficiency hinges on their ability to keep all production staff on the same page, monitor production in real-time, and identify actionable items for improvement.

The Sepasoft MES Suite empowers manufacturers to overcome these challenging barriers by emphasizing scalability, ease of use, and real-time data acquisition and contextualization.

In today’s Ignition Live, Tom Hechtman (President and CEO, Sepasoft) and Keith Adair (MES Product Manager, Sepasoft) and Chris McLaughlin, (SCADA & MES Specialist, Vertech) will demonstrate the scalability of the Sepasoft MES solution from Edge to Enterprise.

Video Transcript:

Tom: Hello, everyone. Welcome to this episode of Ignition Live, where we will be taking a look at implementing MES from the edge to the enterprise. Our hosts today are myself, I'm President and CEO of Sepasoft, we have Keith Adair who is the MES Product Manager of Sepasoft and we have Chris McLaughlin who is the Business Development Manager at Vertech. Vertech is one of our premier MES-certified integrators. And today, the topics that we're gonna be going over... For anybody that's not familiar with Sepasoft, I'm just gonna hit it real briefly, and then we're gonna get into MES and scalability, basically from the edge to the enterprise. And then Keith's gonna do a demo of actual building an enterprise with multiple servers and connecting them up. And then Chris is gonna follow up with an actual real life system that they did for AriZona Beverage and then we'll end it with Q&A.

Tom: So, Sepasoft started in 2010. We're an Inductive Automation strategic partner, so basically we develop the MES modules for Ignition platform. And at Sepasoft, we just live and breathe MES, that's it. We don't have to worry about communications and other things because that's taken care of by Inductive Automation. So, we’re just full-time MES. We have hundreds of companies out there that depend on us, over a thousand implementations worldwide. Actually, I'd lost count of how many at this point. We have more than 60 MES-certified system integrators, so these are integrators that have proven they can successfully implement MES implementations.

Tom: In 2019, we were asked by Gartner to be reviewed. So, that came from customers saying, "Hey, how come Sepasoft's not in your review?" So, that's an accomplishment right there, and we're rated the Top 5 ability to execute in the MES and MOM. We're also an international board member of MESA Organization.

Tom: So, our vision, we started out, there just had to be a better way to implement MES solutions. Been in the industry for years, it's always been a struggle, not necessarily cost-effective. So we'd take a look at, "What are the major pain points and let's solve those pain points." And today, we're taking a look at the pain points of how to implement that in an enterprise ... From the edge all the way up to the enterprise and reduce the risk, basically, by having good solutions, a good valuable product to empower people to do that, which is gonna lower your total cost of ownership.

Tom: So, the IA-Sepasoft relationship: originally, IA white-labeled the MES modules and then in 2016, IA restructured their strategic partner program to bring on other valuable partners in the marketplace. IA and Sepasoft work tightly together. We're in communication with them everyday in sales, pre-sales, tech support, marketing, strategies and more.

Tom: So, let's get into MES and the scalability. Most of you may know that there's a lot of different interpretations of MES, so I thought I'd put this slide in here. And basically, MES is used to control, track and document the transformation of raw materials into finished goods, and a lot of things happen in that. And a lot of folks think OEE is technically an MES, and that's kind of a stretch but we tend to clump it all together, but it usually involves other systems. Enterprise resource planning, it was gonna collect the orders, consolidate the orders, turn it into production orders. They'll send those production orders down to MES and the MES system will, on the plant floor, in real time, execute those production orders. And it also tightly integrates with SCADA and HMI 'cause you need some user interface for that.

Tom: Let's take a look at an MES scalability and what the requirements are. And so a lot of companies start small and they want to expand, and they don't wanna have to rip out their small system to put in a larger system. So, we wanna be able to do that without having to rip and replace. We also wanna support manufacturers or companies that have various sizes of manufacturing facilities. They might have a facility that has two lines, they might have another facility that has 200 lines. So, being able to support that mixture in one unified system needs to be distributed out over many servers. The old school of monolithic single-server type of MES just isn't gonna cut it in this day and age and to be able to scale on your enterprise.

Tom: The ability to run on-premise. So, some MES implementations require that because they're such high-speed production facilities. That's just not gonna be able to work real well over a WAN. So be able to run on-premise. Be able to run at the edge. Maybe OEMs provide some functionality and you wanna be able to run at the edge and in the cloud in one unified system instead of having separate disparate systems. Easy synchronization and configuration of production data. Exporting, importing, copy and pasting, “What version do we have?”, just isn't gonna cut it to be able to scale in a large manner.

Tom: Reasonable licensing, that's a huge one. So, if one or more person wants to access the system, then you have to go to purchasing to get a purchase order to get another client license. That's not gonna cut it either to be able to really just untie your hands and be able to scale. Connectivity with business systems. I talked about ERP but there are probably other business systems you need to connect to. And particularly, in this day and age where there's a lot of focus on machine learning and AI, MES systems have a lot of data that's valuable to them. And if they wanna do higher level analysis and start looking at manufacturing data compared to warranty returns, for example, that's gonna be done at a higher level system and you need to be able to share that data back and forth. And then once it comes up with best practices or a best approach to use that, that gets passed down to MES and MES, then make sure that that happens on the plant floor.

Tom: Redundancy and disaster recovery. You don't want your MES system to be the cause of downtime. So, being able to get back up and running quickly if you have hardware failures or what have you is also very required or important. And then another thing is just having some sort of standard that's being used. If a standard is not used, then it's proprietary. A company just ... Sepasoft could have gone off on their own, came up with their own method of handling production in the plant, and the problem with that is then you're stuck with this model and you're stuck with, "We maybe didn't think of everything, all of the different various production environments." So, ISA, International Society of Automation, they have a Standard 95 and we're compliant with that, and what that gives you is the common nomenclature. So, we bring in somebody else that's familiar with ISA-95 into the plant and they can talk about our software.

Tom: Object models, they're proven out over many different industries and scenarios. Attributes. And we're all the way down to the database where we're using this terminology and model. So, over 70% of the standards, normative sections, are in our product, and you get the benefit. It's vetted by many industry experts, it's not proprietary, proven in many manufacturing sectors and it's literally all over the world. I talk to people on the phone and it's probably even more so in other countries than the Americas.

Tom: Also being on the ignition platform helps being it scalable. Ignition platform runs on the edge. We have inter-gateway communications that helps us with scalability. It supports IIoT using MQTT and other technologies. It's IT-friendly, uses open standards, no nonsense licensing model, I talked about that, and there's one UI for the SCADA, HMI and MES. So now, you can flatten the stack there. So now, your training requirements are not as high for both the operator and engineers to implement.

Tom: So, getting over on the MES side of things though, we need our data to be synchronized between MES servers. It needs to be synchronized between on-premise servers, private cloud, edge devices without having to go through a lot of integration and doing tricks with databases and whatever else. We want it to be secure, we want it to be efficient and reliable. It needs to be scalable across the next use cases. So, companies with mixed facility sizes, we can have the same implementation down in the plant with two lines as we have up in the plant with 100 lines or 200 lines. And maybe the plant with a larger number of lines has more functionality but we want it on the same platform and be able to share that data, and we wanna seamlessly be able to scale up. Maybe the plants grow, production environments change all the time and we need to be able to adapt with that.

Tom: And we also want central management. So with all distributed MES servers out there, on-prem, in cloud, all that, we need to monitor the health of those and be able to identify quickly if we're starting to see a problem before it actually causes a problem in production. We need central configuration. I talked about how you can export import and have everything work that way. And quick disaster recovery. So if we lose a on-prem server down in a plant, that it gets restored and running quickly because database backup, "What if it didn't happen?", all kinds of issues happen out there. So, we want that as a requirement.

Tom: So, taking a look at this scalable platform, and I mentioned that we are identifying pain points and we're addressing them. So, one pain point is the business system connectivity and we've solved that with a business connector, we have an Interface for SAP web services module but you'll see other connectors and support for other technologies as we go forward in time. The other pain point is synchronization of that data among all the servers in your MES architecture, and we've solved that with the enterprise version of our modules. And the last pain point is connecting down into the machinery, either you have to modify the machinery or just getting that communication. So with another partner, Cirrus Link, they have MQTT with ... I've listed the Groov products here from Opto 22 and we can actually run OEE, for example, on the EPIC Groov and then also, be able to pass data up through the RIO. So that's something that is gonna take time and more solutions. It's not as simple but we're building that to where you don't have to modify every machine that you're connecting up into your MES to do, say, for example, OEE. So, with that, I'm gonna pass it over to Keith Adair who is gonna demo actually building up an enterprise EMS system. Keith, over to you.

Keith: Thank you, Tom. I guess what I'd start with is the situation that you laid out, Tom, which is you have several sites all collecting production data. Those sites are connected over the gateway network and they have the MES modules installed, and you'd sure like to have those sharing data. So to set that groundwork here, you can see that I have four tabs open in my Chrome browser. I have my enterprise gateway, I have my Site 1 gateway, my Site 2 and my Site 3 as you can see here. I've spun those all upon Docker, so those are all running in Dockerized containers here. So we can see all four of my gateways and all four of my databases all running here, and it becomes very simple to configure your MES enterprise.

Keith: So as you can see, I've already established that gateway network, so my enterprise is talking to Site 1, Site 2, and Site 3. No fault accounts there, so we're doing pretty well. And all I have to do to make that work is adjust a few settings in my MES enterprise settings. So, I'm gonna hop through these here to show you how that works. I have my enterprise server, which I've marked as the enterprise route, so it is the headquarters gateway. So, this is the one that you might put in an office near your corporate headquarters. That is one that's gonna act and serve as your central gateway where the folks at headquarters can review results and see count data, and schedule progress from headquarters. So, this is kind of that central gateway.

Keith: Then, at any of these sites, I can go to the same page, and I've already done this here, but I can tell the MES enterprise which site this gateway represents. So you'll notice here on Site 1, I've designated my parent as my enterprise and this site as Site 1. And I've done the same for my Site 2 here and my Site 3. So you can see Site 2, I've added that as the gateway that this represents here. So what that results and what you end up with there is the ability to see and understand what equipment is present at each site. So you'll see here that I've labeled, I put a little tag binding for my system name, Enterprise, Site 1, Site 2 and Site 3. And you can see that I've loaded up what's called our MES Equipment Manager here. And the equipment manager shows you which equipment is present throughout your operation. So, I have my Site 1 here, which is also reflected at the individual Site 1 gateway.

Keith: So again, four clients, four different gateways, representing different parts of my MES enterprise. And so each gateway can only see its own equipment. So at Site 1, I can't see Site 2, only Site 2 can see Site 2, and so on and so forth. It might help to see it in our new monitoring component, which I'll go ahead and make larger here. So this MES monitor component gives us a real sense of our hierarchy of our equipment. So we can see, we have the central enterprise site, we have Site 1, Site 2 and Site 3, and we can see how those are arranged.

Keith: Now, we can get as broad as you want here and in fact, if we get it especially large, we'll start to have tools appear to allow us to pan and zoom through the enterprise. You can also make children of these sites like areas and lines that are hosted on their own servers to do sharing of the load and so on and so forth. And also, from the screen, you can see the health of each gateway. So, each of my gateways is green, that means they're healthy. There's a little e here which means we saw some sort of error at the enterprise server, a recent exception. And then I can hop into any of these and see the relative health of that gateway, so the CPU usage, the RAM usage, the disk usage, and then how well it's performing various analyses. So I have this current run analysis and it tells me how long it's taking to run each time. But the real purpose for reviewing this component is to show you that MES hierarchy, how that relationship is formed. Like Tom mentioned, each of these gateways is pulling in data and it's storing that data, and then it's sharing that with the enterprise. So from the enterprise, we can review that data and verify the progress of our equipment.

Keith: So, I'm gonna make that smaller again. We'll go back to the equipment manager, and I just wanna show you folks how easy it is and how quickly these gateways communicate. So, let's come over here and look at Site 1, Site 1. Now, if I come in here and I add a second area, let's go ahead and do that, we'll call this area two, within just a few seconds, you're gonna see an area two appear over here. I'm not gonna wait though, I'm gonna make a very creatively named Packaging Line 2, and that will appear over here as well pretty quickly. Carries over that new name for a minute there, then it carries over. I can activate this equipment and they'll go active over here, they'll stop being red in just a moment here. And we're able to really quickly see these changes and verify that that changes are being made over the enterprise. Now, this is not one-way communication here. So if I come in here and I rename this to Packaging Line 3, I don't know, then that...

Keith: That change will go back up the chain, and the enterprise will be notified with that change and it will update. And just as quickly, I can come over here and delete this and that deletion will roll through. I can add new lines at Site 2. So, new line and it'll appear over here and in area two of Site 2, there's my new line. And so very quickly here, these gateways, separate gateways, communicating over the gateway network are sharing that data relaying back and forth results. And so, I'm showing you this from a theoretical perspective, which is not as useful as a real example. So let's show you a real example here. So I have configured a material here very creatively called My Buds. So they are headphones. And as you can see, I've built that here. And again, as I build this, it gets sense to each of the child sites. Still notice I only built this material once, but it shows up at all the sites: My Buds, My Buds. And their settings come through as well.

Keith: So if I hop in here, I look, here are my settings per gateway, and that's all flowing through to here, so I can see the settings, so I can see that my OEE standard rate is 50, it's 50. So these configurations update. Now, instantaneously we're able to see new values come through and make changes in real time here. And so, that takes us to how this actually looks in execution. So for example here, if I go to this quick dashboard that I built, and we look at our equipment, now I'll pull up the same dashboard at all of my sites so you can see how well-synchronized these are. So Site 2. So we have the same dashboard off of my four different gateways looking at the same data. And you can see that we're staying in sync here in real time. As downtime events occur, look, we just had a downtime event that began in our sealer, before too long, you're gonna see that up here on the enterprise, we're gonna phone home with the changes there and with the updates there.

Keith: So there is the sealer down and the sealer blocked, and that will update over here in the enterprise pretty quickly. You see that the analysis results are up here as well, and we get a real time sense of what's occurring at each line. Similarly, there's that down and that block so this is happening very rapidly, we're aware of what's occurring, we're aware what's causing your downtime from the enterprise. So the enterprise knows right away. Hey, the sealer had a clog and it's causing the line to go down. And we were attributing blame correctly, we know what's occurring, and the statistics are coming through in real time. I'll switch over to Packaging Line 2 here at the enterprise and notice that these match up. And the data is coming through here really rapidly, so we can see how well we're doing, the downtime, so on and so forth. So again, in real time, we understand what's occurring, what downtime events are occurring, all of this data is coming through to us. And we truly understand the cause of downtime and the state of all of our equipment.

Keith: Now, that's just the beginning here. You're able to go in and build all sorts of screens that represent different states of your equipments, but the point is that we're trying to make here is that, we really understand and we can really keep the entire enterprise in agreement with the states of the equipments. What equipment is up and what equipment is down, able to make changes scalably and notify other systems of uptime and downtime. So we get this really great sense of what's occurring, who's to blame for what, and the state of our equipments. And so, it becomes very straightforward, very simple to share that data to make sure that everyone's aware of what's going on. And that's all in that enterprise update. Now, what's exciting is that that's available now on our website. So I'll navigate there and show you folks that. So we have to go to The enterprise update is available for our OEE product and for our track and trace products. And we are very late in development on our SPC and recipe updates for the Platform 3.0 update.

Keith: So as you can see, we have an RC of OEE and Track and Trace available for Ignition eight and for Ignition 7.9, and those are available now for you to download and to test and to try. And if you do try that, we'd love to hear from you and get your sense of what's occurring because we really think that by establishing this new way of sharing this data, we're able to really be scalable across an enterprise and make sure everyone knows what everyone is doing and the state of everyone's equipment, and really get that data to everyone in context as you might hope. So that's what I have to share today. And I'll throw back to Tom here, but I wanted to thank Chris McLaughlin for joining us. It's so great to have someone on this call who actually goes out and does this. I just sit in my office and talk about this stuff and work with our developers. But Chris actually goes there and does that with this team with real folks, and so we're so excited to have him on the call. Tom, back to you.

Tom: Yeah. And Keith, I had one question there. When you say late in development, I know we're late in developing it, but do you mean we're really far along?

Keith: That's what I mean. We are extremely close and we are looking for that to occur as rapidly as possible here, but it's ... we're in those last few weeks of collecting issues and making fixes on SBC and Recipe.

Tom: So with that, I'm gonna pass it over to Chris, and we'll take a look at the AriZona Beverages.

Chris: Thanks a lot. Thanks, Tom. So I am Chris McLaughlin, SCADA and MES Specialist at Vertek. So like they said, let's get into some real-world stuff, and it doesn't get any more real-world than showing a nice building under construction. So this is from the middle of the project, this is in New Jersey, and this is a brand-new facility for AriZona Beverages. And so they have five packaging lines, 11 batch tanks, and a full ISA-88 batch control system, and the cool part is that this entire thing was done in Ignition and Sepasoft. And so you will know them mostly for their iced teas, and so as I show you these, I want you to take a special mental picture of how bright and brilliant these colors are so that you do not judge us when you see the color choices throughout the application. And just remember that, they are on-brand.

Chris: The next thing, Sepasoft would be so proud of me for showing off an ISA-95 sheet, and this is mostly to show off that we did everything, from the instrumentation and the motor control panels and the batch phase logic and PLC programming up through the SCADA level, where we were doing batch control and transfers and full CIP control and management up through the MES layer, where we're doing scheduling and OEE and that batch and recipe management that we talked about, and Web Services and everything that you could want on that MES layer, all the way through to their ERP system, which happens to be SAP. And we are bringing schedule down and we are sending back up consumption of raw materials as well as finished goods. And so who wants to just see a chart when you can see the real thing? So this is the live system, and so it changes by the moment, that's what happens with live, and so I'm gonna do my best to ... I planned out what I'm gonna show you and hopefully they're all producing this and doing exactly the right thing to be able to show you.

Chris: This uses the Sepasoft scheduling tool, and so up top we are using also the Sepasoft Web Services Module, and so we bring down planned orders from SAP and then that creates MES work orders. And so there's a variety of different packaging and batching orders that are happening, and we can see which ones are active or released or not released, and we are also seeing in a calendar viewpoint of what is going to happen this week or what happened in the past. So to make this a little cleaner, let's select one of these, and this is the lemon iced tea, and they go into the gallon jugs that you would buy at the grocery store. And so you'll see down below that we have a combination of, there's one batching ... Sorry, one packaging run where they are trying to make 30,900 cases, and there are a bunch of batches, four of which have been completed and one that is still active. And so I'm gonna flip over ... This would be a manager viewpoint. If we came down to the plant floor, this would be up on giant TV, and they are able to see everything that is active both in batching as well as packaging.

Chris: And so that one that we will burn into your mind there is that 27155, so we see that on Line 1, and it's active, and we also see that 27155 in batching, and it's coming from Batch Tank 510. So I'm gonna make one quick diversion and show you this sweet tea just for a second so that you'll see what it's all about. So this is the batching system, part of the ISA-88 standard that we had to create from scratch, and I just wanna give a shameless plug that we are so excited for the batch system to come out from Sepasoft later this year. We would not had to have made this from scratch. We did, and it connects the entire system at AriZona Beverages, and it went well, but once again, really excited with what Sepasoft has coming out. But here I'm able to see that we're making sweet tea. I get my batch station, the ID, that we're trying to make 5000 gallons. We actually have made over that at this point. And it shows the tanks and the separate tanks that it went to. It has the raw ingredients for use. It has the full flow of the steps.

Chris: Right now it's in quality control. It has the recipe, which I am not allowed to show. But you are able to see all of the individual steps as well as you could have seen it on P&ID type view. And so if I came over off of this same one and looked at tank 480, I would be able to see that 480 ... Yep. Took a second. 480 is on that QC hold that you saw on that other screen, and so it shows that QC check. And so let's follow through with the one that we were going to start viewing, which was the lemon tea. So lemon tea was in 510. And that transfer is complete, all of it has gone through. And so when we are down on the actual Line 1, hopefully my packaging run isn't done quite yet ... It's getting really close, since they've run through that whole tank. But you could see that this is that run, 27155, making the lemon tea. This whole screen is utilizing the Sepasoft OEE and downtime tracking module, and so the nice part is that a lot of this stuff is being done for us, and we are simply using analysis engines to be able to display data on a screen. And so right now I'm in unplanned downtime, not good. What caused it?

Chris: Well, the tank is low. Yes, that's because it was ran out. And so, that is real. This is probably coming up to the end of the run, that happened 13 minutes ago. But you also see that they've been having some issues of ... the discharge was not running so that would be palletizer back there. Sometimes they're waiting on bottles, sometimes more waiting on bottles. And so you could see all of this. You could see where somebody has spelled them robot, incorrect, but you can see all of those reasons is what has occurred. Up top, you see the target rate and where that target would have been. These are done in 15-minute increments so this is our packaging and you can see that we're never quite hitting that target rate, which makes sense of why you would see a 71% on the performance. The other thing is that you saw a ton of downtime and that is what is coming out on that availability.

Chris: Right now, one of the key issues, it's a new plant, they make their bottles on site, and it is not able to keep up with the speeds of the filler and the line, and so they spend a lot of time waiting for bottles, so that's why you see such a low score. The other thing you see is, yup, case count that they have made. Previous shifts, rolling 24 hours, you would have seen what tank it was coming from, although now that that is done, it's not there. And you could look at any other tank. So like that 480 that we were looking at earlier was the sweet tea. You could jump into schedules if you wanted to, but after it's produced, then you would head over to pallet tracker. So Line 1, again, with the lemon tea, shown here. We are communicating with that pallet scanner. We are also communicating with SAP, and so it is tracking all of those pallets that are being seen and it is transacting it back up to SAP and that is creating finished goods inventory is also taking the recipe from the Ignition and Sepasoft system and consuming the raw ingredients that were used for those batches, based on the batches that went into this production. Also, can look into the downtime. And so it's not been an incredibly long day today, we're about halfway into it, but let's check out Line 1 of what we were doing.

Chris: And so that is, again, line control discharge was a large part of that waiting on bottles at a decent amount. Let's see how that compared to a full day off of yesterday and a little sad, of that we, out of our 1,400 minutes of production that we experienced half of them waiting for bottles. So remember that and also, let's also look at this shrink wrapper. Why is our shrink wrapper going down? And so these are things to be thinking of on the continuous-improvement side of this facility of all of this data is at your fingertips, you can look at any line, you can look at any reason code over any length of time and be able to see what it means and why it's there. With the Sepasoft tools, we have site overviews and area overviews and equipment overviews. You also have history, which we're gonna start looking at the production history. And so I'm already pulled up on week-to-date of area but I'm gonna just refresh it real fast. See if any new numbers have come in a little bit. This is the order that we have been following all throughout. So it started yesterday at 2:35 PM, is current at 12:37. You've experienced a canny amount of unplanned downtime, but when you look at these scores... So yes, this is a really low score, but let's see some detail to that of the performance, that is an acceptable tolerance range at 87% for this facility, for this line and that quality is doing quite good.

Chris: So, really, if I was focusing on this, I would be focusing in on the availability and the processes that surround Line 1 and the reason code specifically of why it has been going down. So following this trend, let's look at some yields. So if we look at last week, and I'm gonna just magically click on this order that gives me the info that I wanted … [missing audio] ... plan this. And it's gonna be showing off the Arnold Palmer, this is the zero-calorie and it's going in the gallons. And so this is the moment that you are able to see what packaging order made that up and what batches went into that packaging. And so I can see the amount of cases that I'm trying to make, the batches that we put together and how close the actual is coming out to the work order. So that must be an amazing batching system to get it that close.

Chris: Down below, you are seeing that, yeah, we made just shy of that 15,000 gallons of syrup when they blended at the line, that's almost a 5-to-1 ratio and they will come out with practically 75,000 of the single strength gallons. And so you could say, "How did we do on the line?" well they used 97.93% of the syrup that they had and so they used that to package 17,753 cases out of, if that batch had been used at the last drop in the most efficient way possible, you could have made this 18,000. So they packaged almost 95% of what they batch up, which for them this is a good packaging run, but you would be able to look into any order, over any time over a product and start making continuous improvement type or operations improvements.

Chris: And so, yes, you can pull recipes, you have a full-blown recipe management system that is also where it interacts with creating what those batching operations look like. There's quality screens and alarming, and reports that you could run against it. I'm gonna look at one more analysis of the downtime. And so if we go, let's go current week-to-date and let's look at Line 1, just 'cause that's the line that we have been planning or that we've been watching throughout this whole demo here. And again, we see that waiting on bottles up at the top of it. And we also see that shrink wrapper that was showing up when we looked at it just yesterday and today, that there's something happening with that piece of equipment.

Chris: And so I'm gonna zoom in on our waiting on bottles. And so this is what you can do with the Sepasoft tool, is that there are some really nice analysis tools that you could go for. So, I can right-click on any of these, sorry, left-click on any of these and look at the additional factors or production, or general-type ways of looking at my data. And I'm gonna just mix it around and say, "Is there any distinction of the crew that was running? Did it make a difference if we are running out of bottles?" And yes, huge difference. You could see that if you were the D or the A crew, and they alternate these crews based on the schedule of the week, but B crew was responsible for, in some cases, four to five times more of that downtime code, which is a lot.

Chris: And so this is an immediate place of ... You could start looking into that. And you could take any of these reason codes that are coming up on these lines and start mixing it around of, "Does that happen on different days of the week? Does it happen with different products? Does it happen when these situations or these additional factors are coming into play?" And you could do this with any line or area, or site over any time frame, amazing analysis capabilities, which leads us all back to where we started, that it's an ongoing thing. There is a schedule of what we are going to be running. You could see that we're finishing up one run, which leads to another, and then we're gonna wash, rinse and repeat. And that is a very quick demo of a large MES system in a flash of 15 minutes. So, thank you guys.

Tom: Alright. Thanks, Chris. So, we do have some questions coming up. I do have one question for you, Chris, first. So, you showed us one site there but they have... They're scaling across multiple sites as time goes forward, correct?

Chris: Yes, that is true, which is why we're really excited about the tools that you've been developing, say, over the last year here because it'll be really nice of ... Yes, there's another site that's local in Jersey there that could be connected in and somebody could be using those same dashboards to take it a level higher than area and site, and then enterprise and be able to drop in with those same analysis tools to look at, "Wow, dude, my lines at Plant 1 compared to my lines at Plant 2, and when we make the exact same lemon tea, are we having the same problems over there?" And yeah, they will be spending out over the next year, in two years, as they continue to build more facilities.

Tom: Excellent. Thank you and I'm sorry for not having a batch module for you yet.

Chris: You will, you will.

Tom: Keith, we have some questions here as far as what current modules are available today? I guess the first question is, this is the 3.0 Platform that we are showing. We've dropped out the 3.0 Platforms continuing on here. Eventually, we'll go into LTS on the 2.0 and it will be the 3.0, but the synchronization across multiple MES servers is on the 3.0 Platform. But Keith, if you could address what modules are out? What's in the pipeline?

Keith: As Tom mentioned, we have our Platform 2.0 modules continuing to be supported. So I know that as of today, we're shipping a service pack three of our Platform 2.0 modules for Ignition 7.9. We'll be shipping a similar version for Ignition 8 but I know that you folks really care about the new stuff. So as you've seen, as I've explained, the Platform 3.0 modules for OEE and Track and Trace are available now in their RC1 form. We'll have an RC2 of those coming shortly.

Keith: The RC2 of those modules includes our new document management module, which I did not show today, which is all about allowing users to define work instructions or checklists, or tasks. And those tasks attach to Track and Trace operations or OEE operations, or they will connect to sample definitions. And I think that Tom and Mark demonstrated that at ICC last year. That will be coming in RC2 of our Platform 3.0 modules, which is really imminent. I know that they're closing the last few tickets of those on the development side as soon as today and so those will go into QA shortly. So that's our RC2 of Platform 3.0, as well as the document management are very imminent here.

Keith: In addition, we are shipping a full version of our Business Connector Module shortly. So we've been in RC on that in some time, refining and iterating with our customers that use that module and we'll be shipping the full non-RC version, again, sometime this week, maybe early next at the latest, and that's very exciting for us as well.

Keith: Finally, the elephants in the room here that I see mentions of in the questions here, we have the SPC Platform 3.0 and the Recipe Platform 3.0. Those are nearing completion. We've been working on those for some time but we are definitely in the latter phases of development, wrapping up the last few development tasks in the hopes of shipping RC1s of those modules within June here. So, in the latter part of this month is our goal for the first public release candidate for those modules. We have beta testers out in the world for the SPC Module, which is exciting and they're having good success, and we're eagerly searching for feedback on those.

Keith: I think the other elephant in the room is our Perspective components, and those are similarly in a stage of finalizing development. So one of the questions here is, are these Vision or Perspective visuals? Speaking for Chris and for myself, these were all Vision, I believe. Chris, correct me if I'm wrong. So we're in Vision right now. However, we've developed an entire series of Perspective components that are in beta right now that folks are testing for us. We are working on the last of those in our first batch in hopes of shipping out Perspective components, again, in this month of June here. So, a busy month for us.

Chris: It's worth mentioning to everybody else, there is another Perspective application at AriZona Beverages that I didn't show off today because of time, but it uses the same analysis engines. You're able to view every single line, all those downtime reason codes, all of those stats and we've been using all the Sepasoft modules in Perspective applications lately. There are a little bit of things that you have to go in how you set up your application but it has not stopped us from running Perspective applications utilizing the Sepasoft tools.

Keith: And then we'll give you Perspective components, Chris, and you'll tear those all out and put our stuff in, right?

Chris: Totally.

Keith: We're really close on those two and if anyone wants a demo of those, feel free to call your Inductive rep and we'd be happy to show those off, but they're really, really close. The last big task we're working on, and we're working on these because of changes on the Ignition side, are adopting the new theming that Ignition 8.0.13 brings around. So we're very excited about that because it means that you'll be able to hit a toggle and change everything from light to dark or various themes, and our stuff will hook right into that. So that's our last big task along with our MES trace graph that we hope to complete in that first batch.

Tom: That being said, Keith. The SPC, we don't have all the Perspective components done ...

Keith: Good point, good point.

Tom: And recipe. So that's just the main OEE and traceability will have those components.

Keith: That's right. So, we'll meet the needs of our OEE and Trace customers first and over the remainder of this year, we'll be developing more and more components in Perspective, hopefully at a quicker clip now that we've got the process down here. So, be on the lookout for those as we develop them. And then Tom, I'm gonna turn this back to you and say, "Tell us about the batch timeline," since that's been a topic today.

Tom: Yeah, I'll do that. One more question since we were talking about versions and all that. We are caught up with Ignition versions. We were behind there for a couple of different reasons but I think all the way up to 8.0.13? Correct, Keith, or 8.0.12?

Keith: 8.0.12.

Tom: 8.0.12, okay. 13's an RC.

Keith: That's right.

Tom: We're keeping up with those. So, we've made some changes and worked with Inductive Automation. We were getting the SDKs late, so we couldn't test build against them. They are now doing those along with the nightly builds. We do a nightly test. We're picking up stuff very, very early now, so that should be improved a lot here going forward. So we shouldn't get stuck having to stay on an older version of Ignition. I know they had a critical security update in 10.

Keith: The next release of … the first Perspective release will support Ignition 8.0.13 for theming. So, when the Perspective components come out for OEE and Trace, they will support the theming. That was one of the questions here. And the other question is, "Is 8.0.12 stable for OEE and Track and Trace?" The answer is yes for the versions that we've uploaded to Inductive's page. So if you go to Inductive's page, there are our two 8.0 modules there, feel free to download them. And then someone called me out on using 8.0.12 even though 3.8.0 only... The RC only supports up to 8.0.9. That's because I'm using the new RC2 which is imminent, so I'm a little ahead of the curve here. Perks of being a product manager. I'm sorry, back to you, Tom.

Tom: Okay. But yes, going into the batching, and I do see a specific question here. "Any plans to build on ISA-106 procedural automation module?" Yes, there are. So, we're actually working with a large OEM that does mostly procedure and they're involved in the ISA-106 definition, which hasn't been ratified yet but we did get an early version and we have evaluated it. And so we'll be able to do it out-of-the-box initially here but we'll build more and more support into that over time. So I wanted to answer your question here right off first.

50:37 Tom: And then the batching module, based on the ISA-88, there's a handful of bad companies out there that have batching software and they're all monolithic, meaning they run on one server, you've got ... If you wanna transfer your recipe from one to another, you're doing export-import or you're doing a bunch of integrations stuff. Do you wanna tie it in with different scheduling, then what comes with it? You've gotta do more, and it's very, very tedious. This is built on our core platform of the MES 3.0 that we're talking about here. So your recipes will be able to synchronize across multiple sites. You still have to factor in the changes between those sites but it will synchronize across. It will tie in with the traceability in Track and Trace Module.

Tom: So, if you receive material, have that in your storage silos or your storage tanks, or warehouse, or what have you, you can consume those lots from Track and Trace into your recipe and then your finished goods, produce lots going out. So now, your traceability flows through your batch system. Material definitions will be common.

Tom: Gosh, Keith talked about the document management. That will also work in the batch module. Pretty critical when you have manual steps in batching and the monitoring that we talked about. You'll be able to have distributed batching. Meaning, unit procedures can be off on another server so it doesn't have to run all on the same server.

Tom: No nonsense licensing, where so many times you're paying by the unit and you need to use one more unit for faking out the system. Maybe you're handling a transfer or something like that and really the best solution is put a unit in there, but you have to go buy another unit that and you didn't plan on it. This is, you buy by the process of unlimited units and if that's too large of a system for you, just like Ignition, maybe you don't need unlimited clients, you can then buy a version that is limited. So if you want only five units, you could buy a limited one. But if you want the unlimited version, that's the standard way, you purchase it. So it's keeping with that same no-nonsense licensing model.

Tom: Some things that are gonna be different, you're gonna have a lot of control in scripting. So, if you wanna create a recipe in scripting you can do that or you're creating your equipment model in scripting, you can do that. So just a lot of functionality. One big complaint I heard out there getting information about batch modules was that operators had to get into the SSC or PFC chart, and that's how they monitor the system. Well, that takes a certain skill level of operator. Maybe you want a little more straightforward interface. And so you'll be able to do that and it'll be on the same Ignition platform, and the operator can still drill down into that SSC chart. Maybe if they're on a problem or something, they can go into that. So just a lot of functionality and it fits seamlessly into our existing products. Inventory control, all that kind of stuff, is just tied right in analysis. All of that is all the same.

Tom: If you have more questions about VATs and stuff, I'm happy to talk to you and just reach out to anyone, account executive or myself, if you my email or what have you and be glad to talk more about it and answer any questions. I wanna get back to some questions that we have. One of those is, "If you use the Sepasoft API or scripting functions to create materials or equipment models and whatever in our system, are those propagated back to the enterprise node?" is the question. And the answer is yes. So, it doesn't matter if you use our component to create 'em or you use scripting to create 'em, it will propagate over the system.

Tom: Another thing that we have in this that we didn't really talk about too much was the change slot. So, any changes you make, doesn't matter if it's with scripting or our components, those are propagated through the system. And let's see if we might have questions...

Keith: There's a couple of more near the bottom here that I can go over. Does the...

Tom: Okay, but you have about one minute left here.

Keith: Yes. These are good questions, we'll have to follow-up, but the... "Do the Perspective components require additional licensing?" No, they do not require additional purchases. However, if you aren't current on your support, then you may have trouble upgrading to the right version. So that's where you'd incur additional cost.

Tom: It does require the Perspective Module.

Keith: Yeah, that's right, that's right. No additional MES licensing. There's no Perspective flag on your MES license or what have you. The follow-up question, and to this person, maybe contact us, "Which version of OEE should I use right now: Ignition 7.9, Ignition 8.0, Platform 2.0, Platform 3.0?" I know it's kind of a nest there with various versions. I'd urge you to call our design consultation line. So, call our phone number on our website, hit the instructions for design, and you'll get someone in that who's willing to help you talk over the things you're trying to do and help you pick the best platform.

Tom: Alright. Well, that brings us to the conclusion here. Hope you enjoyed it. And Chris, thank you very much. It's always good to see a real-life demo and the insight that you have. And Keith, thank you. Thank you, everyone, for joining. Have a good day.

Posted on June 3, 2020