I recently attended a webinar asking the question, Has MES Come of Age? It is an interesting premise. It is commonly known now that implementing information technology for manufacturers is one of the keys to their success but are Manufacturing Execution Systems being recognized for their business value?
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a term used to describe different types of solutions to execution-related functional problems, such as automated work instructions or capturing and tracking information on the line in real time. MES sits between the Enterprise Resource Planning system and systems on the plant floor (even the machines themselves).
Over the years, as the manufacturing industry has begun to standardize, MES has gone from being mostly custom coded to coming in template packages. Standardized and out of the box MES solutions have helped manufacturers see the benefits and let us wonder, has MES finally arrived as an essential player to manufacturing?
The webinar used data from a Gartner survey which determined that yes – Manufacturing Execution Systems have come of age. MES is considered a mainstream service that is essential to the supply chain, not just a single plant. MES provides increased quality, data visibility, and reduced costs which are now baselines to enter the playing field in manufacturing. These benefits have helped MES solutions become part of manufacturing culture and makes the return on investment clear.
One of the areas that made companies successful with Manufacturing Execution Systems was that they implemented it as a strategic enterprise solution instead of a single, stand-alone system. By being implemented for the whole enterprise, instead of a single plant, companies found longer-term benefits of MES and continued in its investment. Manufacturing Execution Systems that are viewed to benefit the enterprise are easier to deploy at each phase of a project because common processes can be determined among plants, making the MES easier to roll out.
Although it was noted that the most successful companies with MES treated it as an enterprise system it is important to note that not all companies have the money or time to start out with a full MES. For these companies, getting to the point where they can have a full enterprise MES is the trick, especially if they have multiple plants. Pilots are often a good first step towards an enterprise MES. Especially if the pilot focuses on a problem or area that multiple plants face, such as work instructions for operators or tracking quality defects and their resolution on the line.
Another indicator that MES has come of age is that implementations have moved away from heavy customization to being configurable. Configurable systems are easier to upgrade and implement across many sites. This is not to say all customization is bad. Companies that used minor customization in configurable MES solutions reported success.
Manufacturing execution systems implemented as an enterprise solution brings about its own issues. The pool of stakeholders increases which makes it more difficult to define which functions should be developed. These decisions can fall back on the vendor to deliver. Another issue arising is that traditional IT organizations are blurring with manufacturing information technology, making it confusing as to which organization owns which hardware and IT standards to follow. One way to help solve the confusion is by creating a MES Center of Excellence. A MES Center of Excellence brings together leads from IT, manufacturing, and the business to develop MES features for the long haul that will have the best impact on business value.
- MES provides increased quality, data visibility, and reduced costs.
- Companies experienced a higher degree of success with their MES when it was implemented as a strategic enterprise solution instead of a single, stand-alone system.
- MES now come in configurable, Out of the Box solutions
- Global Rollouts are feasible with Out of the Box MES
Read more about the webinar here: http://www.iyno.com/have-mes-come-of-age/