On cloud nine: the manufacturing industry profits from iTAC Software's cloud IT and SaaS-capable MES

Manufacturing Execution System based on new technology ensures smooth production processes in the "Digital Factory"
(PresseBox) (Dernbach, ) iTAC Software AG's Version 7 of its Manufacturing Execution System (MES) sets course for "digital factory 2.0". The MES is based on a new software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing concept that manufacturing enterprises can use to implement modern and integrated production and quality management. Unlike standard cloud computing systems, which use virtualisation at the operating system level, iTAC focuses on the application level, which generates significant cost and performance benefits.

Product lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter, products are becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted and, at the same time, development sampling, production times etc. are reduced. Conventional production-related IT systems are not capable of providing the integrated approach that is absolutely essential today. Traceability software and manufacturing execution systems are now becoming a strategic element in the overall framework of flexible, networked production. They link the shop floor and the commercial side of the business, and hence the company's partners in the value chain.

"Small and medium-sized enterprises are often unable to implement an MES because they lack the infrastructure, IT know-how and resources," explained Dieter Meuser, CTO of iTAC Software AG. "We designed our new iTAC.MES.Suite 7 according to the software as a service principle to remedy this problem. It's based on a novel cloud computing concept."

Cloudy - with an outlook of a production high
Cloud computing provides an abstraction between the computing resource and its underlying technical architecture to facilitate the flexible and scalable operation of the entire IT architecture through an external service provider. The service provider operates a pool of abstracted, highly scalable and managed computing resources. The company's applications are grouped in this "cloud" and provisioned to the company for its dynamic business processes on demand.

To provide the technological basis for an SaaS-based MES software for the manufacturing industry, iTAC developed an innovative cloud computing concept. Current cloud computing systems work with virtual servers (VSs) at operating system level to guarantee high availability and flexibility. However, this results in slower response times when an additional VS is booted up.

The cloud IT system was implemented at the Java EE5 application server level to satisfy essential production-related criteria such as short response times and increased cost awareness.

MES as a service
Through this, iTAC has created a platform for an SaaS-based MES solution. It enables the operation of an unlimited number of instances and fast response to resource requests and peak loads without any impact on production equipment cycle time. "This solution is the only one to deliver the necessary real time capability for WAN-based bi-directional communication with production equipment," said Dieter Meuser.

The JEE application server and independent infrastructure components enable efficient in-system communication, failover and load balancing. These infrastructure components are made available to the iTAC.MES.Suite via the ARTES platform. Monitoring capabilities enable the automatic management of basic functions and the billing of SaaS services used by the customer.

"When we developed the iTAC.MES.Suite 7, we were aiming at a sustainable and affordable traceability/MES infrastructure for both large-scale companies and SME suppliers so that we could enhance or sustain their competitive advantage. The level of demand shows that we've delivered a product that perfectly reflects our target group's requirements," summed up Meuser.

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