In batch processing, plants mix discrete quantities of chemicals to yield a desired compound. The process is completed on a relatively small scale and often requires multiple steps. Batch manufacturers can produce hundreds of different compounds in a single year, making it difficult to keep track of individual recipes and ensure overall product quality.
Two recent software introductions aim to help batch manufacturers gain a better handle of their processes.
Tie Production to Financial Data
Written in the Platinum for Windows (PFW) toolset, Batchmaster for PFW software ties production information directly into the customer's financial data. Best Software, Irvine, Calif., purchased the product from eWorkplace, an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of manufacturing and e-commerce solutions, in early 2002.
BatchMaster for PFW's capabilities include material requirements planning, purchasing, inventory, lab analysis, formulating, costing, production quality control, government compliance, sales order entry, bills of lading and a full range of integrated financial functions. The application also can track and test product quality in real time ," a capability the company says is seldom found in other process manufacturing software offerings.
The software also performs complete lot tracking of inventory items, including material and product expiration dates, quarantine dates, quality control status and lot strength factor.
The new version of the software, release 5.01, became available just last month. It includes two new chemical processing enhancements ," a labeling module and Internet capabilities.
The Labeling Module will enable users to customize product labels. In the past, label contents were generated automatically by the formula. New Internet capabilities will allow customers to enter, change and monitor their orders online 24 hours a day, seven days per week, via the vendor's Web site.
"With the addition of BatchMaster for PFW to our product offerings, process manufacturers now have a complete solution that ties production and financial information together, giving managers deeper insights into their business," says David Butler, president and chief operating officer, Best Software Mid-Market Division. "Armed with insights, managers can more closely control key business functions, resulting in higher levels of efficiency, greater profitability and lower over head costs."
BatchMaster for PFW is a fully functional process manufacturing solution that gives a real-time view of key business factors across the entire enterprise.
Schedule and Manage Production
FlexBatch version 4.0 manufacturing execution software is used by chemical, agricultural and other processors in conjunction with process automation systems to quickly schedule and manage production based on recipes.
The latest version of the software simplifies and streamlines the creation of complex recipes and allows customers to increase throughput by optimizing equipment scheduling. Because it stores recipes and batch records in a relational database, plant personnel can access recipe and electronic batch records easily from any desktop application. FlexBatch reports are written in Microsoft Access and can be fully customized.
The software also can be installed on high-availability servers for mission-critical applications in which uptime is crucial. Upon failure detection, the software shuts down the failed computer and brings the backup computer on-line without operator intervention.
New system features will be added in 2003 to further reduce dependence on user procedures for compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's electronic records and electronic signature requirements under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 11.
"The most exciting aspect of FlexBatch is that it increases profitability for our customers," says Dion Freedman, senior vice president of GSE Process Solutions. "It allows customers to increase throughput, reduce batch cycle times, lower engineering cost and introduce new products more rapidly."
GSE Systems Inc., Columbia, Md. Web site: www.gses.com.