Manufacturing Execution Systems, or MES, can perform a wide variety of functions. Management of equipment, personnel, quality, materials, recipes, and batches is only the tip of the iceberg. Add to it a plethora of other purposes, such as decision-making assistance, routing control, traceability, and reporting. Due to the importance of such a system in modern manufacturing companies, it's incredibly important that a proper strategy be created and managed to succeed in any MES project, deployment, or significant change.
Significant gains in productivity and cost savings may be realized from a well-executed MES project. Nevertheless, despite the many advantages of today's modern MES systems, its adoption or implementation has occasionally been greeted with reluctance (or even refusal) due to concerns about disruptions to corporate operations and the potential for failed projects. Because of this, many businesses have been unable to take full advantage of this critical component of the digitalization of manufacturing.
The success or failure of any type of MES project should focus on some key fundamentals in order to make an MES implementation successful.
1) Assemble a Competent Team
Finding the ideal team members is crucial to the success of any company endeavor. It is crucial in an MES project to have the correct combination of professionals from multiple company departments added to the implementation team. Employees across all departments must accept the final solution, so key representatives should be carefully selected.
Having a skilled and impartial leader from upper management along with a cross-functional team of experts in information technology, manufacturing, R&D, compliance and quality assurance, operations, and supply chain is the key to success. If your business has global operations that will be part of the rollout, you will also need to bring in staff from other facilities to the group.
The success or failure of your MES project hinges on the involvement (and ultimate acceptance) of process owners and operators, who are the key users. It is important to consider this when you put together your MES dream team.
2) Set Clear Goals and Deliverables
Establishing different goals and milestones is the next and maybe most important phase. It's easier said than done when dealing with a project of the scale and complexity of an MES rollout.
Guided self-analysis and a foundational document developed with input from relevant parties should inform the methodology when deciding what functionality an MES should provide. The MES project's aims should be consistent with the organization's strategic goals.
One example of a possible need is the ability to execute processes and schedule them efficiently and flexibly. However, rules and specific agreements across projects by segment, customer, and project type may restrict scheduling. Furthermore, in highly regulated businesses, quality and compliance may take precedence over the opportunity to change system capabilities frequently. You can better shape the goals of your MES implementation if you have a firm grasp on this internal set of criteria and tradeoffs. Once you realize what you want to accomplish, you can advance more confidently.
Here are a few examples to get you thinking about what you must achieve from the project:
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
By monitoring and optimizing uptime, performance, and quality, OEE can gauge and boost the efficiency of machinery. You should implement OEE on only one or two lines at first, the ones with the worst performance issues. Then, zero in on the equipment that is the line's bottleneck.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
SPC is a technique that uses statistical approaches to improve process control, which in turn leads to more consistent and reliable results in the final product. Determine which steps, machines, or production lines seem to have the highest process or product variability. Then, choose a subset of the most important variables to regulate to keep the variance to a minimum.
In several process manufacturing operations, yields are of utmost importance since there are both incoming and outgoing materials, yet part of each is lost or wasted. To begin, focus on the yields of only one or two lines—the ones seeing the largest drops in yield. And zero down just on those items of machinery where you may expect to get the greatest returns on investment.
3) Seek a Reliable Consulting Partner
Finding a reliable consulting partner is crucial to the success of any MES project. The right partner can be the difference between success and failu
✔ Find out whether the partner has worked in your field or specific market/ industry.
✔ How much experience do they have with implementing MES for the same or comparable manufacturing processes, and if they have done it as a team leader or member?
✔ Whether or not they are working with reliable MES providers that fit your process.
✔ Determine their revenue model. Are they "in it" for you or for the various products and services from which they make commissions?
In general, you should find answers to any inquiries that concern your specific requirements and objectives. Not only that, but your decision to go forward with a possible partner or consultant should be based solely on whether or not they satisfy the criteria you establish.
4) Learn to Managing Change
Lastly, recognition by the workers and employees of any well-implemented MES project is another crucial component of its successful implementation. When implemented, any system change, including an MES implementation, causes a shift in the status quo of operations by making them more transparent and systematic at every stage.
Everyone from shop floor employees and supervisors to plant management teams may feel unsettled by this change. Therefore, effectively managing this transition is the most important factor in determining the overall success of the project.
Businesses that want to incorporate any MES implementation or change in their operations will need to create a large dedicated in-house project management team or hire an outside consultant with experience in this area. Contact us at Stellarus Group; we're ready to help you right now.