Before you select an MES partner, before you try to align your organization around the effort, before you review software options, answer this question: What is the business problem to be solved or the outcome to be achieved? That answer will guide every decision around MES.
Start With Your Business Goals
Your business cases and questions are unique to your organization. But this truth applies to all enterprises: the business case comes first; the question of which technology and architecture should follow.
- What plant, service, product, supply chain, logistics or warehouse problem are you trying to address, and how fast do you need to show a return on investment?
- Getting specific is important, but don’t let a narrow scope limit your thinking.
- Understand the complete scope of the problem and what might be required in the future so you can solve not only the specific problem but also create a long-term global vision for the company.
Set the Scene for Success
You can expect your MES to help accelerate your digital transformation and improve top-line growth, operational excellence and risk mitigation if your organization is aligned. These factors influence your success:
- Clearly defined use cases
- An executive sponsor
- Alignment between IT, OT, functional leads, internal experts and operators
- Well-defined shop floor production processes
- The right MES software and partner
- Realistic expectations of the functionality (deeper than a cosmetic change)
- Supportive internal IT systems
- Right pick for the pilot
- Robust training
How Do I Justify Investmenting in MES?
Build a business case by identifying your strategic benefits to help the MES initiative prove its short-term value and demonstrate long-term potential.
- Are you concerned about quality? This has been the No. 1 business criterion used in justifying MES.
- Do you want to go paperless? The benefits of implementing a full MES are well documented, including moving to a completely paperless operation, electronic enforcement of processes and eliminating spreadsheet-based production data management systems.
- Is risk a concern? MES will help you establish traceability throughout your organization, futureproof physical and digital investments, decrease errors in manufacturing process design and implementation, and help avoid project delays.
- Do you have too much unplanned downtime? With MES you can perform maintenance only when required instead of on a set schedule and even prevent unexpected equipment failures.
- Does your manufacturing include multiple plants? A mix of plants also means a mix of technology: some off-the-shelf, others using Excel, and no easy answers to the questions of extending what’s already there or investing in MES.
- Is total cost of ownership an issue? Integration, closed-loop quality management, elimination of duplication of effort and input, standardized processes across multiple sites that allow for resource sharing and flexibility… these are just a few of the ways MES helps reduce costs. A survey performed by Gartner and MESA International showed that most manufacturers implementing MES had achieved significant improvements within 12 months of implementation. Over a third of the surveyed manufacturers saw results within three months.