Alliance aims to make integration easier

ABB, Accenture, Intel and Microsoft have formed an alliance to help computer-based manufacturing systems communicate better with one another.

Manufacturing environments often suffer from a gap between the real-time systems that manage and automate production processes and the transaction-based core business systems. Systems at the ‘enterprise’ level are typically blind to information that is readily available on the shop floor, and vice versa.

To bridge that gap, ABB, Accenture, Intel and Microsoft have formed an alliance to help such computer-based systems communicate better with one another.

The alliance members will draw upon ABB’s Industrial IT Solution – a framework that integrates, organises and synchronises all the information in a manufacturing environment, making it visible and accessible to users and systems throughout the enterprise.

By using ABB’s IT solution, each ‘element’ within a plant – including equipment, raw material and finished goods – is represented in the automation hierarchy by a dynamic software shell called an ‘Aspect Object’ which speeds navigation to critical information.

By simply ‘right clicking’ on the Aspect Object for any component, users can directly access documentation, configuration and connectivity tools to speed up installation, control, troubleshooting and lifecycle maintenance.

The Industrial IT solution will be adopted by Accenture, Intel Corporation and Microsoft for real-time information sharing, automation, asset management and bottom-line optimisation.

For its part, Accenture has already designed and built an integration layer that is based on Industrial IT and the Microsoft BizTalk Server. This helps enable the real-time exchange of data between the enterprise and plant floor systems. Within the alliance, Accenture also will provide program management support to help clients with diagnostics, solution delivery, hosting and large-scale systems integration. The addition of Microsoft .NET technologies will enable customers to more easily integrate diverse legacy systems and business processes with more current and future technology. And the system will be based on Intel’s processors and associated standards.

In addition, the alliance will also provide development, consulting and support to major application providers and independent software vendors to help them develop applications that use the Industrial IT architecture and companion technologies.