Manufacturing IT, MES

Realizing the potential and benefits of an MES

Companies with a manufacturing execution system (MES) often generate a good initial return on investment (ROI), but there is a great deal of potential companies don't realize.

By Conrad Leiva March 20, 2019

There are hidden treasures at the manufacturer’s information technology (IT) shelf of already owned software not being used. More specifically, the manufacturing operations management (MOM) or manufacturing execution system (MES) software the company purchased a few years back that hasn’t been deployed to its full capabilities.

Results from a joint survey with Gartner and MESA International indicates that even though most companies have achieved the expected return on investment (ROI), they still believe there is more value to capture with their MES.

It seems easy to achieve the initial benefits and then move on to other things. Does management even know about these potential benefits? Has the organization bothered to present these additional areas of improvement as possible phase 2 or phase 3 projects with its own ROI?

This is a common occurrence. The first few tasks are easy, but the next steps are perceived as harder work. After the low-hanging fruit in the first phase, the next phase is going to take harder integration work. However, the potential benefits also can be much bigger.

In fact, MES is a foundational enabler to the Smart Manufacturing strategy, and it was probably not positioned that way in its first implementation. MES is often implemented and justified based on the benefits of eliminating paper-based processes in production. However, companies that fully embrace the MES as an enabler for more process improvement and business transformation are achieving three to ten times the initial benefit in the next three to five years.

The MES is not fully rolled out to all facilities and programs might be obvious, but there is more functionality and integration potential left on the table might be less obvious. Typical areas of process improvement post initial implementation of the MES include:

  • Integration of in-process quality management processes, material review board (MRB), rework specifications, and corrective action management
  • Integration of automated factory equipment (like parts placement and inspection equipment) that collects a lot of data can be pumped into the MES
  • Integration of engineering data directly from the PLM system including 3-D CAD as the basis for 3-D visuals for work instructions and integration of specification in PMI directly into the MES inspection verification requirements
  • Integration of the supply chain management processes including supplier quality management.

It is time to fully leverage that initial investment and start planning the next phase of MES at your organization.

This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

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Conrad Leiva
Author Bio: Conrad Leiva is VP Product Strategy and Alliances at iBASEt and is on the International Board of Directors at MESA International and is Chairman of the MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group.