Best Practices for Microsoft-Based Plant Software Address Reliability, Cost, Supportability

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Use of Microsoft technology in plant floor systems is now a given, with further
horizontal and vertical penetration likely to continue. Automation end
users, suppliers, SIs, and OEM machine builders recognize this inevitability
and its potential value proposition in plant floor applications, particularly
the leveraging of economies of scale inherent in
lower-cost COTS technology. Most also realize
that this migration must take place with primary
consideration given to the reliability, costeffectiveness,
and supportability issues that are
paramount in plant floor applications, plus the necessity
of implementing and maintaining these
systems using the traditional plant floor skill set. OMAC’s Microsoft User
Group has issued a Best Practices document that highlights key aspects of
Microsoft’s architecture that impact these issues and provides options for
manufacturers to consider when applying these Best Practices in your own
plants.

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Best Practices for Microsoft-Based Plant Software Address Reliability, Cost, Supportability

  1. 1. THOUGHT LEADERS FOR MANUFACTURING & SUPPLY CHAIN ARC INSIGHTS By Chantal Polsonetti The MS MUG Best Practices document highlights the areas of focus necessary to ensure reliable, cost-effective, and supportable implementations of Microsoft technology on the plant floor. INSIGHT# 2003-16M APRIL 2, 2003 Best Practices for Microsoft-Based Plant Soft- ware Address Reliability, Cost, Supportability Keywords Microsoft, Plant Software, Architecture, Security, Redundancy, Reliability, System Monitoring, Change Management, Backup and Recovery, COTS Summary Use of Microsoft technology in plant floor systems is now a given, with fur- ther horizontal and vertical penetration likely to continue. Automation end users, suppliers, SIs, and OEM machine builders recognize this inevitability and its potential value proposition in plant floor applications, particularly the leveraging of economies of scale inherent in lower-cost COTS technology. Most also realize that this migration must take place with primary consideration given to the reliability, cost- effectiveness, and supportability issues that are paramount in plant floor applications, plus the ne- cessity of implementing and maintaining these systems using the traditional plant floor skill set. OMAC’s Microsoft User Group has issued a Best Practices document that highlights key aspects of Microsoft’s architecture that impact these issues and provides options for manufacturers to consider when applying these Best Practices in your own plants. Analysis Potential leveraging of COTS technology into the formerly proprietary realm of plant floor control systems has always been attractive due to the prospects for lower-cost, easier-to-use platforms and applications and more widely available sourcing and skill sets. This incremental value proposition is significant in abstract, but can narrow rapidly when the functionality of the leveraged COTS technology does not meet plant floor functional re- quirements. The latest deliverable from the Microsoft Manufacturing User Group, or MS-MUG, presents Best Practices options that enable manufac- turers to implement Microsoft technology in a manner that meets their particular plant floor functional requirements. This deliverable draws from
  2. 2. ARC Insights, Page 2 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com the combined knowledge base of user companies such as 3M, Boeing, and Procter and Gamble as well as suppliers such as CISCO, Microsoft, Sie- mens, Wonderware, and the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences. Reliability, Cost Effectiveness, and Supportability In creating this Best Practices document, the MUG team identified ten key aspects of Microsoft technology that impact reliability, cost-effectiveness, and supportability. This list in itself is important because it steers manufac- turers to what the group believes are the key variables that determine whether or not a Microsoft-based system will meet the functional requirements of plant floor systems. Version 1.0 of the Best Practices document, the latest release, covers seven of these areas. Along with its valuable identification of key areas of focus when architecting Microsoft-based plant floor systems, there are two other areas of note concerning this Best Practices document. The first is the team’s recognition that not all plants are the same, and therefore the emphasis in the presentation is not on “how to” but on options for consideration depend- ing on your particular plant’s circumstances. The second, and one that reflects an emerging issue on the plant floor, is that the presentation is geared to- ward understanding by the plant floor personnel who implement plant floor systems, but are not IT people and therefore may not be aware of the options available to them. Implications of Client-Server Architecture The MS MUG Best Practices document begins with recognition that most applications are networked in order to be able to connect to the control sys- tem, and therefore network architecture falls within the scope. Use of Ethernet switches rather than hubs is deemed the better choice for cost- effectively optimizing network performance and for use where network performance is critical. The choice of where computer hardware is located is alone a huge factor impacting hardware cost, in some cases representing up to a fifty percent premium. Architecture Security Redundancy & Reliability System Monitoring Change Management Support Backup & Recovery Capacity Management Training Planning Ten Key Areas that Impact Reliability, Cost-effectiveness, and Supportability
  3. 3. ARC Insights, Page 3 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com On the software side, users are cautioned to consider where the application is in- stalled, where the data should be stored, and where the OPC server should be installed. While OPC is a de facto standard, the varying implementation possibilities can have a variety of effects. For example, care should be taken that the OPC server does not exert too much of a load on the control system. Security: A Process not a Project Security concerns are one of the most fundamental obstacles to the use of Internet technology in plant floor systems, in spite of the significant value potential in applications such as remote monitoring. The Security portion of the Best Practices document emphasizes that manufacturers should con- sider security to be an ongoing process, not just a project, whose goal is to minimize risks and reduce company exposure. Internal standards that drill down to specific technologies, methodologies, implementation procedures, and related activities play a key role in this process. These standards are used to determine the boundaries and limitations of policies, or high level statements that provide guidance. Redundancy and Reliability Key to Reduced MTBF and MTTR Ensuring both redundancy and reliability of Microsoft-based plant systems is important for manufacturers. Reliability is concerned with maximizing the amount of time the system is available, and reductions in both MTBF (Mean Time between Failure) and MTTR (Mean Time to Repair) can im- prove reliability. Redundancy is used to allow a system to continue to operate via a backup or failover system if the primary system seizes to op- erate. When software-based redundancy is combined with complimentary hardware redundancy, very reliable systems result. High System Availability is the Goal Even the most robustly designed systems can degrade due to hardware failures, network problems, application glitches, and human mistakes. Sys- tem monitoring can be used to anticipate and prevent such mistakes and achieve the ultimate goal of high system availability. ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY ALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEYALLEN-BRADLEY Accessing Data can put a Load on the Control System, so Care Should be Taken in Architecting Server Configurations
  4. 4. ARC Insights, Page 4 ©2003 • ARC • 3 Allied Drive • Dedham, MA 02026 USA • 781-471-1000 • ARCweb.com High system availability is also the focus of Best Practices in Change Man- agement, which provides a template outlining the critical steps for creating a change management process, a high-level process flow for planned change management, and an emergency change process flow. Change management is a critical issue for manufacturers given that the lifecycles of Microsoft platforms and the applications that run on them are much shorter than the lifespan of many shop floor applications. Change management and documentation of that process is also crucial to customers in the Life Sciences, Food and Beverage, CPG, and other industries where current or potential regulations in this area will impact them. The process of incident detection, reporting, and problem resolution can have a significant impact on the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of plant systems. In providing Best Practices in support options, the MUG draws on the first two major process management disciplines from the ITIL (IT Infra- structure Library) Support Process Model: Incident Management and Problem Management, due to their impact at the end user level. Recommendations • Designers and implementers of plant floor systems should recognize the need for intelligent implementation when applying COTS technol- ogy such as Windows or Ethernet to the plant floor. The MS MUG’s Best Practices for Microsoft-based Plant Systems is a valuable guide for achieving this type of intelligent implementation. • The next stage of this effort is focused on mapping the necessary plant floor skill sets to the identified Best Practices. Further information about joining this effort, as well as information on the MS MUG and the Best Practices for Microsoft-Based Plant Floor Systems document can be found at: http://www.omac.org/wgs/MSMUG/msmug_default.htm Please help us improve our deliverables to you – take our survey linked to this transmittal e-mail or at www.arcweb.com/myarc in the Client Area. For further information, contact your account manager or the author at cpolsonetti@arcweb.com. Recommended circulation: All MAS clients. ARC In- sights are published and copyrighted by ARC Advisory Group. The information is proprietary to ARC and no part of it may be reproduced without prior permission from ARC.

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