What kind of MES do you need?

Asking yourself a few questions about what your manufacturing execution system needs to do can help sort out a large and complex project.

10/07/2013


I often have people ask me questions like, “Which MES should we use?” Or, “What kind of MES should we get?” My short answer is always, “What kind of MES do you need?” That’s always the best place to start, asking yourself what you need. What are your requirements? What are the business needs?

That usually starts a much longer discussion on MESs in general and then gets into the nuts and bolts of what kind of MES they really need. There’s no short answer to this of course, but there are several things to think about. The most fundamental point in deciding what kind of MES someone needs is that the answer is always the context. How does it fit into the architecture and what is it supposed to do?

There’s always a context for the MES because there are always other systems already in place in manufacturing. Maybe it’s a DCS or an HMI/SCADA. Maybe there’s an ERP system running on top. Maybe it’s all of the above. Regardless, the point is that an MES has to fit in well with the other pieces within the architecture. So, in trying to decide what kind of MES is needed, ask the question, “How does this MES need to integrate with the other pieces in the architecture?”

The flip side of this question is all about what an MES is supposed to do. This is often much more complicated than the architecture, and it gets more complicated when you start to understand everything that MES can potentially do. But, the issue here is that you need to focus not on the MES itself but on what it’s supposed to do in the manufacturing operations. So, in thinking about this, ask this question, “How does an MES need to drive manufacturing operations and influence behaviors in this specific setting?”

And, the overriding consideration is how your MES is going to impact the business. The kinds of questions to ask here are what specific things can be done in this manufacturing setting:

• To improve productivity
• To improve capital effectiveness
• To reduce rework
• To reduce waste
• To reduce costs
• To increase first-pass quality, and
• To increase yield and efficiency.

To finish up, I’d like to provide just a few more thoughts on what kind of MES do you really need. Your MES needs to work well with your ERP and supply chain systems. We’re long past the point where manufacturing was disconnected from the business and from the supply chain. Manufacturing is an integral part of the business and your MES must be an integral part as well.

We also need a single integrated architecture. An MES is not a stand-alone solution. It must be part of a total system that’s easy to integrate and support in the overall existing systems architecture. An MES architecture needs to have several key characteristics:

• Integrated data sources for analysis and transaction activity
• A consistent user interface for the plant floor
• Functionality to support the production side of the business, and
• A focus on more than just transactions or events – proactive production management.

In the end, your MES must be a solution that helps manufacturing become more flexible, react quickly, and be responsive to the demands of the real world. If it can do these things then your MES can be successful. Ultimately that’s the kind of MES you need. So, think about these things when you ask the question, “What kind of MES do we need?”


And, of course, there’s a lot more to it than can be explained in a short post like this. But, the main points are here: stay focused on the business, look at the requirements, and look at the architecture. Make sure your MES has a positive impact on the business. That’s the kind that we all need. Until next time, good luck and have fun!

This post was written by John Clemons. John is the Director of Manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.