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Plug and produce with zenon and MTP

Industrial software developer, COPA-DATA has launched a ground-breaking Module Type Package (MTP) Suite as part of its zenon software platform. The technology has been developed for the pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, food and beverage and marine sectors and is designed to enable plug-and-produce manufacturing. Following several years of development, the zenon MTP Suite is the first of its kind successfully implemented in a real-life plant.

MTP is the cross-industry and cross-manufacturer standardization of the interfaces of different pieces of machinery which form a module. The basic requirement for modular production is uniform descriptions of information for modules. MTP makes this possible by breaking down a production line into smaller modules and ensures they all speak the same language, thus supporting interchangeability.

The zenon MTP Suite can be compared to a home office. Regardless of the brands of your equipment — your keyboard, printer, mouse — you can combine them without encountering any problems. Similarly, MTP enables users to directly access the available services of any individual modules.


Integration with POL

In a manufacturing facility, this functionality is achieved through the integration of MTP on the process orchestration layer (POL). As the name suggests, this is the layer of a plant’s technology in which different processes are directed and launched.

In the zenon MTP Suite, the steps to process orchestration are simple. After the MTP files are imported, the modules are configured against the service parameters. From there, a manufacturer can create batch recipes according to ISA-88 — an international standard for batch control — and start the manufacturing process.

The model promises faster time-to-market for batch production than many methods due to the ease of integration of prefabricated modules. For the pharmaceutical industry, this could see straightforward integration of different production modules, allowing manufacturers to produce multiple types of medicines with little engineering effort — hence the phrase, plug-and-produce.

The zenon MTP Suite can yield benefits to a business’s bottom-line by reducing production costs by up to 40 per cent. This is achieved by making smaller batches more cost effective while also reducing maintenance and storage costs.

COPA-DATA’s new offering has already been deployed at Merck’s research and development (R&D) laboratories of the Electronics Technology Center at its global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. The deployment was predicted to result in more efficiency interaction between production and R&D and accelerate the market launch of new products by up to 50 per cent. 

“During market launch, speed is a crucial competitive advantage and is especially important for our products,” said Hajo Neumann, Head of Integrated Supply Chain within the Electronics business sector of Merck. “We also expect that the boundaries between R&D and production will become increasingly blurred in the future. These days, the batches produced in the laboratory are becoming ever smaller but also much more individualized,” added Neumann, explaining the progress of this trend.

“Configuring a laboratory environment in which hardware and software work in tandem should be as simple as connecting a printer to a PC. Speed, flexibility and efficiency are thus improved considerably. The joint project with Merck will set an example internationally,” said Thomas Punzenberger, CEO and founder of COPA-DATA, commenting on the future of the laboratory.


Implementation of MTP

For MTP to be achieved, uniform information is first essential to facilitate integration into a POL, like the zenon POL. The software can seamlessly connect with the zenon Engineering Studio and zenon Service Engine to automatically generate a complete process control system.

zenon offers all the functionalities manufactures need to implement MTP in their plant. By using zenon Logic as SoftPLC, it is even possible to make older plants MTP-compatible, even if they are running mostly on legacy equipment. In the same way you can connect your 90s printer to your shiny new laptop — MTP makes integration simple and scalable.

More information on the zenon MTP Suite can be found here