This morning, Microsoft Corp. announced its Plant-to-Enterprise Interoperability initiative with the support of ISA-95 standards that will extend its longtime commitment to the OPC standard for the shop floor. The information came out at National Manufacturing Week 2005 in Chicago. ISA-95 is an international standard that defines the terminology and models used in the integration of business systems at the enterprise level with control systems at the plant-floor level. Dennis Brandl, editor of the ISA-95 standard and president of BR&L Consulting in Cary, NC, told InTech magazine that he was encouraged to see Microsoft’s support, indicating the standard has value to ERP vendors and customers. “I’m happy Microsoft has listened to the leading edge participants in the ISA-95 standard, and is supporting that work,” he said.

Microsoft also recently joined and accepted a board position with the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA), a not-for-profit organization of manufacturers and information system providers focused on leveraging technology in order to better achieve business goals.

MESA promotes the exchange of best practices, strategies and innovation in managing manufacturing operations and quality, and in achieving plant-floor execution excellence.

“Growing market dynamics and increased competition have made it necessary to integrate manufacturing operations into business performance metrics,” said Robert Mick, vice president of emerging technologies at ARC Advisory Group Inc. “Interoperability of business and operations systems is key, and Microsoft’s support of standards such as ISA-95 will accelerate industry adoption as well as hasten the development of implementation standards.” “Microsoft is committed to helping manufacturers achieve operational excellence, and support for standards such as ISA-95 will help the industry by lowering integration costs and improving productivity across increasingly fragmented value chains,” said Celestine Vettical, worldwide director of Manufacturing Industry Solutions for Microsoft. “In a service-oriented landscape, standards are key to achieving interoperability between systems and applications across manufacturing business processes.”

“We welcome Microsoft’s support for the ISA-95 standards,” said Sudipta Bhattacharya, vice president of Manufacturing Solutions Management at SAP AG. “The ISA-95 adoption initiative that SAP launched in June 2004 is further validated by the participation and support of Microsoft. The traction that we are now starting to see around interoperability within the manufacturing space will go a long way in enhancing manufacturing productivity, as well as help customers drive down their total costs of ownership.”