Next-gen MES embraces enterprise standard no matter what manufacturing mode
Manufacturing execution systems (MES) have gained increasing acceptance in key industrial verticals, most recently based on their role in multi-plant production scenarios. But it's still difficult for an MES to suit all of a company's plants. There is no “standard” MES in the sense that ERP can be standard, says Simon Jacobson, senior analyst with Boston-based AMR Research.
Manufacturing execution systems (MES) have gained increasing acceptance in key industrial verticals, most recently based on their role in multi-plant production scenarios. But it's still difficult for an MES to suit all of a company's plants. There is no “standard” MES in the sense that ERP can be standard, says Simon Jacobson, senior analyst with Boston-based AMR Research .
“Manufacturing needs to be more tightly integrated with the enterprise, but plants are spread around the world, and they follow different business models,” says Jacobson. AMR says what's needed is vendor adoption of its Manufacturing 2.0 conceptual model that promotes use of manufacturing service-oriented architecture (SOA) and emerging Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 patterns.
Not surprisingly, some MES solution providers are working on just these kinds of initiatives. Case-in-point comes from MES vendor Visiprise , a partner in SAP's Perfect Plant initiative. Visiprise Manufacturing 5.0 MES includes a Production Operation Dashboard (POD), Web 2.0 platform characteristics, and a new Java-based user interface configured to display additional manufacturing data for analysis. Yet Senior VP Carter Johnson says what's essential is the system's support for discrete manufacturers' multimode manufacturing operations.
“Manufacturers have spent considerable time and money addressing the supply chain. Now they are turning their focus back to manufacturing and the need for an enterprise-standard MES,” Johnson says. “The reality is that all manufacturing facilities across an enterprise don't do the same thing, and often employ vastly different manufacturing models.”
Visiprise Manufacturing 5.0 enables manufacturers to capture complete component traceability, end-item configuration management, and regulatory compliance from a single application used in a multimode manufacturing environment. That's particularly vital when considering that while an aerospace manufacturer may want a standard MES, some of its plants build circuit boards, some make subassemblies, some build systems, and others do final assembly of satellites and missiles.
“Visiprise Manufacturing 5.0 gives them the ability to leverage one solution to handle both high-volume/low-mix make-to-stock operations and low-volume/high-mix build-to-order assembly manufacturing,” says Johnson.
Another MES vendor, VIA Information Tools , is said to be taking a similar approach. VIA's MAN-IT solution serves as an enterprise-standard MES that replaces countless other manufacturing solutions across an enterprise, offers the means to improve visibility and traceability, and delivers process enforcement, says VIA Information Tools CEO Gregory DeLaere.
“Across an enterprise, some manufacturing facilities may produce a wiring harness for automotive suppliers on a sequenced JIT basis, and other plants may produce textile products for automotive suppliers,” says DeLaere. “But what makes the situation more complex is that more than half of our customers run a different part down the production line every time. MAN-IT can be deployed across the enterprise to meet demands from plant to plant, line to line, and part to part while maintaining visibility, traceability, and process enforcement.”
That's done by allowing end users to graphically change the business process by adding, removing, or rearranging what VIA calls “Business Atoms” within the business map. Changes are done in real time without programming knowledge.
Jacobson says both Visiprise and VIA are on the right track.
“Their solutions promote the idea of being able to use a single MES across the enterprise as a standard, giving plants and employees the functionality they need.”