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May 05 2011

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Why So Many Standards? ISA-95, SCOR, MESA… and now DiRA

Yes, it is confusing. Why do I need so many reference models and standards? Why should I care at all?

The reason lies in the fact that each of these models is taking a very different perspective at your business. It is kind of like you need a binocular to navigate the night sky, a telescope to observe the detail of moon surface, a pair of reading glasses to read books and a pair of active shutter glasses to watch 3D TV.

SCOR (Supply Chain Operations Reference) – Supply chain view of business processes

SCOR is architecture of business processes. At its highest level, it categorizes a supply chain to five components, namely, plan, source, make, deliver and return. Each of these processes can be further drilled down from Level 1 to Level 3. Correspondingly, there are metrics and best-practices defined for each of these processes. The use of SCOR allows manufacturers across different industries to diagnose their supply chains, identify alternatives and best-practices as well as benchmark performance measurements. Note that not all supply chain processes are part of the model. For example, quality, maintenance, product innovation, IT and administration processes are not part of SCOR.

MESA Model (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) – Plant-to-enterprise view of business processes

The MESA model is stemmed from the view of a plant. MESA 11 functions model covers the business processes at the plant in much more depth, including maintenance of equipment, detail scheduling and sequencing as well as quality processes that are missing from SCOR. MESA model enables global manufacturers to analyze their business processes at the plant. Recent development of the MESA model has strengthened on how plant processes impact enterprise strategic initiatives.

ISA-95 (International Society of Automation) – Plant-to-enterprise architecture of systems

While SCOR and MESA are architectural models for business processes, ISA-95 is in essence architecture of information systems. It defines the boundaries of enterprise systems into five levels, according to the degree of “real-timeliness.” For example, Level 4 is the business systems that typically run planning jobs, such as MRP or monthly closings, which operate from a monthly to hourly basis. Level 3 refers to a layer where applications run on an hourly down to a second’s basis. An example is a Manufacture Execution System (MES) that coordinates workflows between multiple work stations or operators. The reference model described by ISA-95 offers manufacturers a guideline to decide system boundaries and hence designing interfaces between systems as well as ownership of the relevant data. Many of the Level 2 and Level 3 processes in SCOR can be put into different levels of the ISA-95 model according to this guideline.

DiRA (Reference Architecture for Discrete Manufacturing Industries) – Architecture of the capabilities to channel data on your systems to empower business processes

While SCOR and MESA are models of business processes and ISA-95 is a model of information systems, DiRA is a model of the capabilities to channel the data from the systems to benefit business processes. DiRA entails six pillars of capabilities, namely natural user experiences, role-based productivity and insights, social business, dynamic value networks, smart connected devices and secure, scalable, adaptable infrastructure. These capabilities are results of a range of technologies ranging from human movement sensors developed for gaming machines, social media technologies to the latest advance in cloud computing and device convergence. For example, natural user experiences and role-based productivity and insights are the capabilities (per DiRA) required to enable an operator at a manufacturing plant to tap into the data that resides in a manufacturing application (per ISA-95) and hence work more efficiently at the production or quality processes (per MESA or SCOR). Typically the process of discovery, innovation and socialization within a global enterprise is unstructured. These unstructured processes are not part of SCOR or MESA but rather manifest through the DiRA model as enabling capabilities. Through the lens of DiRA, manufacturers are able to examine and see how they can better leverage technologies to unlock the business value of their data, which can then be applied to business processes.

Because of the dynamic nature and complexity of supply chain and manufacturing processes, each of these models and standards are evolving. However, when advancement of technologies has achieved a tipping point, we need a new “lens” to help understand what has changed and how to best proceed forward. Often these changes cannot explain or be managed by an incremental evolution of an existing model, necessitating a new set of standards. DiRA is a great example. In practice, by leveraging these models, you can jump start the diagnosis of your business and deploy better solutions in the right way, the first time. At Apriso, we are leveraging DiRA’s capabilities to extend what is covered in SCOR and MESA while still retaining alignment to ISA-95 through our integration with other enterprise applications utilized by most global manufacturers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2011/05/why-so-many-standards-isa-95-scor-mesa%e2%80%a6-and-now-dira/

4 comments

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  1. Amanda

    Thank you so much!!! This questioning was almost driving me crazy!!! The most part of texts about it just bring the quantity of functionalities, but never really explain clairly the mainly differences among the models…
    Thanks!

  2. Saroj Goswami

    Thanks soooooooooooooooooo much for the awesome post.
    this is exactly what I needed to read :)

  3. James

    Thanks for the comment. DiRA does have a strong root with MS. However, the 6 pillars capabilities are normative and there are non-MS technologies for these capabilities as well. The discussion on “the power of pull” and how it crystalized to the 6 pillars are all normative. I would expect it to evolve to a more open architecture as it graduates from its initial phases.

  4. Delcuvellerie

    Hi James,

    As usual you are making an interesting point. What I read about DiRA in the Microsoft white paper was looking as a Microsoft product catalog endorsed by their manufacturing partners, but nothing close to a possible standard. Is there something more “normative” or “open” and less “marketing” that I can read to get the point ?

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