How to understand MES benefits and the fit within your organization – and “MES Readiness”
In today’s world, companies are constantly striving to drive value and continuous improvement within their manufacturing operations. To that end, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), which address production process, manufacturing variability, visibility, tracking, process control and quality among others, are a key component in a company’s value-driven strategies.
Because of the nature of manufacturing and its inherent complexities, MES systems are expected to address and integrate many aspects of the manufacturing operation, which constitute a complex array of components.
As such, the understanding of MES benefits and fitment within your organization are critical building blocks for a successful MES assessment, implementation and sustainment.
The Building Blocks
One of my colleagues in a previous blog has discussed MES/MOM implementation steps, particularly the process of blueprinting. So this blog will focus on the preparatory steps or building blocks needed to position an organization for a successful MES/MOM strategy – an assessment framework used in many successful engagements over the years.
Overall, the assessment process should include the following:
- Defining and agreeing to business scope
- Assessing MES readiness
- Documenting current “as-is” operations
- Identifying pain points and improvement areas
- Assessing MES fitment
- Creating “to-be” vision and roadmap
- Quantifying the value of enterprise to plant floor integration
- Building measurable ROI justification
- Planning for a successful implementation and sustainment
Business Scope – the Foundation
Defining and agreeing to business scope is a pretty standard but extremely important first component of a successful MES/MOM strategy. In fact, this is the foundation for all other subsequent activities and one of the leading indicators to a successfully MES/MOM implementation. The focus of this step is to:
- establish a strategic team who has the power to drive change
- use the team to balance strategic vision with tactical pressures
- decide how assessment information will be collected
- engage stakeholders to define business objectives and drivers
- determine a frame of reference (“as-is”)
Remember without an effective and well thought out business scope, your MES/MOM strategy and successful implementation and sustainment faces an uphill battle.
Assessing MES Readiness
So, business scope has been established. The next step is to assess your organization’s “MES readiness”. The goal of this step is to, based on business objectives and drivers, evaluate the readiness of individual units to contribute to and benefit from MES/MOM.
As noted in the opening section, MES/MOM systems touch many aspects of the manufacturing operation and support organizations. The impact and projected ROI of an MES/MOM on an organization must be addressed from many perspectives, as it’s not just a technology solution.
- Analyze, assess and document potential MES requirements from four different perspectives –Business, User, Process and Technology
- This better defines the potential cost-benefit of a MES/MOM solution (ROI)
- Increases the consistent adoption of the MES/MOM across the organization
- The end result is the evaluation of individual units to contribute to and benefit from MES/MOM
MES Readiness – Business Perspective
Someone once said “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”. From a business perspective, you need to know how you stack up to the competition. This is accomplished by evaluating your current state as well as understanding typical MES benefits and how they contribute to plant performance strategies.
To gauge where you are at versus where you want to go:
- Compare key performance metrics with industry standards
- Identify strong and weak business areas
- Highlight applicable best practices for input into roadmap
- Apply historical averages reported benefits to quantify impact to business
- Use output to substantiate the business case and build Vision and Roadmap as part of cost-benefit analysis
MES Readiness – User Perspective
Cultural buy-in is another leading indicator to a successfully MES/MOM implementation. MES success is very much dependent on cultural as well as operational readiness.
Steps to establish and gauge user readiness include:
- Establishing a governance model which includes impacted organizational components
- Creation of a cross-functional user base to verify pain points, business scope and corresponding high-level requirements
- Educational opportunities to describe typical MES benefits and impact to the individual worker
- A consistent and repeatable process for translating high-level requirements into evaluation criteria
- In turn, evaluation criteria used to populate functionality selection matrix
MES Readiness – Process Perspective
This step focuses on performing process mapping and opportunity analysis for input into MES fitment. Process along with technology focus is traditional topics that first come to mind when companies discuss MES strategies.
Steps included in the process perspective include:
- Interviewing SMEs and stakeholders to determine current process landscape
- Documenting quality, customer, compliance and regulatory requirements
- Review use of shop floor automation for process control
- Identification and prioritization of MES “low hanging fruit”
- Process impact of MES-automation layer and MES-ERP integration
MES Readiness – Technology Perspective
We have discussed MES readiness from a Business, User and Process perspective. Last but certainly not least is the Technology perspective. Focus includes exploring the current IT systems environment and requirements of the MES/MOM to integrate with existing and proposed systems.
Steps included in the technology perspective include:
- Assessing Automation/Process Control layer to determine operational readiness and available data
- Exploring technical readiness of integration points between the various layers that comprise the enterprise architecture
- Evaluate availability of real-time manufacturing data flows
- Evaluating current IT infrastructure and potential new requirements to support a MES/MOM solution