SIGMA Helps Customer Improve Productivity

SIGMA Helps Customer Improve Productivity


  • Obtain insight to production processes required to act prudently at the right time
  • Identify opportunities and threats with central batch reporting and long-term archiving of production data
  • Control access to historical data to deliver the right information to the right place



  • The customer leverages richer sets of data as an asset and executives benefit of analytical techniques
  • Simplified report creation and batch comparison tailored to the needs of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry fully prepare this company to change strategy and long-term course

FactoryTalk Historian and FactoryTalk VantagePoint combine to conquer batch and process data issues in pharmaceutical and healthcare applications


In the life sciences industry valuable data can be dispersed across multiple archives and systems. This presents issues for different users who have varying information requirements and require customised, contextualised yet comprehensive and coherent views of this data.

SIGMA, based in Goldbach and Marburg, Germany, a recognised Rockwell Automation system integrator, has developed a reporting toolkit based on FactoryTalk® Historian Site Edition (SE) and FactoryTalk® VantagePoint® EMI tailored to the needs of the pharmaceutical and healthcare manufacturers. The toolkit offers a configured set of reports, which can be used to analyse the information generated from various production processes and works with most automation solutions.

A German biotechnology centre – home to several innovative pharmaceutical companies – which, in the past, had completely relied on custom solutions from a third-party technology supplier, has now integrated this reporting toolkit into its existing production lines.

The toolkit is capable of aggregating alarms and events and displaying them in the same way as the control system itself


Integrated historian software solutions are designed to collect and save process data. However, it is only when this data can be aggregated into meaningful reports that its true value becomes evident. It is only then that companies are in a position to compare production data and batch records, in order to improve not only the quality of their production, but also reduce reaction times in terms in response to changing market demands.

SIGMA has addressed these needs and has deployed just such a solution for the German biotechnology centre. The transition from basic process data capture to a configured data analysis solution now helps provide optimal data collection and collation.

“With process data capture being based on information from 3rd party PLCs and control systems, the challenge was getting effective access to alarms and events data from the existing fragmented database,” says Jochen Hasselbach Site Manager at SIGMA. “If this company could combine the process information with trending, alarms and events, it would improve productivity by eliminating friction points.”

VantagePoint EMI can access a wide variety of platforms and data sources, such as Microsoft SQL Server or an Oracle database


FactoryTalk® Historian Site Edition offers high performance long-term archiving of production data. In conjunction with the web-based process visualisation available through VantagePoint EMI, the customer now has access to tailored report layouts and can display meaningful representations of this historical data. The report creation and batch comparison reporting toolkit also provides secure controlled access to historical data for a wide variety of access levels.

The SIGMA toolkit helps the customer to gather the dispersed production data and then present it in a coherent manner. OPC DA standard interfaces – distributed interface nodes (FTLD) – are installed as the software interfaces between the control system and Historian for local buffering of data on computers, which also control the production systems. Alarms and events are also archived in FactoryTalk Historian i.e. via OLE DB interfaces. FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI then provides access to the production data and produces analyses and trends.

VantagePoint EMI can access a wide variety of platforms and data sources, such as Microsoft SQL Server or an Oracle database. The easy-to-use report creation toolkit brings in alarms and events, making it possible to show process information together with production information which would normally be hidden in the customer’s control system. This is the content that decision-makers need. “Extended batch-based data analysis functions and comprehensive web-based reporting help our customers to organise this information properly, making it useful and meaningful for a wide range of users at varying decisionmaking levels,” explains Harald Schmidt of Rockwell Automation.

In a fermentation process users can compare the process to a ‘golden batch’ sample value as a reference – automatically and in real time


FactoryTalk Historian SE and FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI are proven solutions in highly regulated environments such as life sciences and pharmaceutical industries. The described architecture can do more than just capture and visualise analogue data. Trending and analysis add-on tools can, for example, depict a trend in temperature in a batch and, at the same time, alarms and events highlight specific incidents. Each incident or process alarm at the customer is added to a notification list, which helps the operator to interpret the process.

The toolkit is capable of aggregating these alarms and events and displaying them in the same way as the control system itself. The information, which would otherwise only be available in the control system, is now available in the office environment. Furthermore they can be used for more expansive analyses – even combined with analogue values in one and the same trend.

Where specific control-system information is concerned, a comprehensive interface means that this level of information is sometimes hidden and can now be shared above and beyond its normal level. For instance, Sigma has managed to use and enhance the batch reporting facility of the customer’s control system. As a result, in a fermentation process, it now compares the process to its ‘golden batch’ sample value as a reference – automatically and in real time. The system operator now receives direct feedback on the current process quality and can respond accordingly.

“Visualising process data in the form of a web page, such as that provided by FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI, has a distinct advantage for both the technical and non-technical user,” says Jochen Hasselbach. “This significantly reduces the time required for training and the portal can be operated by users of differing technical and professional expertise.” The batches to be compared are selected using simple drag and drop. Actual data analysis is carried out using familiar standard tools such as zoom, shapes and rulers, with events being represented as data sets in the plot area. The toolkit provides a large number of standard reports for analysis purposes so that the customer can evaluate and publish results using integrated reporting tools.

The availability, processing and comparison of process data from the control system delivers multiple forms of flexible analytical reporting suitable for the respective industry. With the solution provided by Rockwell Automation and SIGMA, it is very easy to combine process data with trending, alarms and events, and analyse this crucial data at all levels in order to help towards greater productivity.

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