The foundation of every manufacturer’s business is production, for obvious reasons. As many companies take part in the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and its corresponding digital transformation, production platforms, and systems have lagged behind. This is due in part to the fact that tracking an inherently physical process via a digital system is a complex task—and adding in more contextualization and automation and data increases the challenge. But more and contextualized data is exactly what everyone in an industrial manufacturer needs to improve efficiency and ROI.
How MES Gets You There
Your MES needs three fundamental characteristics to ensure success and give your company the best chance to achieve your goals:
A recent eBook from Tech-Clarity, “Three MES Characteristics that Support Eight Aspects of Industrial Competitiveness,” explains why a manufacturing execution system (MES) is the answer. In their words, MES are “systems that deliver information to optimize production activities from order launch to finished goods. MES guides, initiates, responds to, and reports on plant activities as they occur.” Further, MES is a critical component of manufacturing operations management (MOM), along with related functions such as quality, scheduling, logistics, and asset maintenance.
An MES can bolster the eight skills and abilities that manufacturers need to meet the challenges of becoming and remaining competitive in the current market. More centralized and contextualized data about the complete manufacturing process and product lifecycle can help companies mitigate risk due to disruptions, meet or exceed customer expectations for quality and sustainability, and even improve data security to withstand cyberattacks. The bottom line is that serving up historical and current data in context to anyone in the company is the game-changer.
Eight Keys to Competitive Success
Tech-Clarity suggests that there are eight abilities that every company needs in order to successfully compete in their industry.
- Agile to be able to decide, change, and act quickly.
- Innovative with respect to products, processes, company culture, and more.
- Resilient in the face of disruptions or unplanned events.
- Engaging to keep employees invested and attracted.
- Responsive to the market, customers, and partners.
- Insightful in order to turn data into action.
- Sustainable in production, materials, energy use, and more.
- Improving continuously.
- To be digital thread–ready. According to Tech-Clarity, “MES’s role in the digital thread is to contextualize data and package it in required formats across domains and disciplines to take action.” Contextual data means information flows between systems. That means a digital thread that ties all information about a product together to capture product knowledge throughout the product lifecycle. A coherent digital thread means your company doesn’t only have product lifecycle data, but you have data with context that will yield insights. To achieve the digital thread, your MES must support two-way information flow with every other enterprise application, including product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), operations technology (OT), and more.
- To be personalized. An MES needs to be easy for everyone to use and able to be tailored to the needs of each user. An MES with “composable architecture” allows companies to add components as needed and over time. As well, low-code support means “citizen developers” can build user interfaces (UIs) for each user role that collect all necessary data from the digital thread.
- To leverage the digital twin. Your MES also needs to bring together multiple virtual models of physical items, assets, or processes—otherwise known as digital twins. Product twins are the baseline, but when combined with virtual models of your production plant, your procurement and supply chain, your infrastructure, and more, you get a multiplier effect where the result is greater than the sum of its parts. A comprehensive digital twin can help your organization decide and act faster, produce more effective designs, achieve a new level of continuous improvement, and optimize your entire business.
Tech-Clarity suggests starting your MES journey by using the eight keys to competitiveness to set your strategy and priorities for your company and sites. Next, you should evaluate current capabilities to prioritize IT needs, which can help you create a clear set of goals for your MES selection to drive near- and longer-term benefits. With goals and the three necessary architectural characteristics in mind, you can then evaluate MES platforms and software providers’ or resellers’ support capabilities. Above all, they recommend you “ensure that the overall business objectives and long-term digital transformation possibilities stay at the forefront of your selection approach.”
For more detail about the eight keys to competitiveness and how they map to each of the three fundamental MES characteristics, read the full Tech-Clarity ebook.
If you are interested in how an MES platform that will support digital transformation efforts, Contact Us, and our MES team will be in touch.