In our next blog series on multi-site MES we will look at the specific challenges of rolling out an MES across multiple, global sites and how these can be overcome. The total cost of ownership of a multi-site project is inevitably higher than that of a single site, but there are many benefits and, overall, the total enterprise cost will be lower than separate projects.

This blog will consider the following challenges of multi-site MES:

  • Managing a project across multiple time zones and the requirement for a System Integrator (SI) that is capable of global project deployment
  • Defining the base model, deciding which site should be defined as the pilot, and site sequence strategy
  • Maximizing standardization while allowing a necessary degree of freedom to meet individual site needs
  • Managing different national/international rules and regulations
  • Integration and data warehouse between different sites
  • Ensuring MES supplier innovations are in synch with the MES lifecycle at the diverse sites

A global system requires effective global deployment

It may seem obvious, but one of the first considerations of multi-site MES is how the project is managed across multiple time zones and whether your selected SI can support the needs of a global project. How will teams interact with each other and how will the system be maintained and controlled to ensure there is no divergence across different sites and increasing maintenance overheads?

Global organizations have experts with essential knowledge of operational requirements located throughout the world. For successful multi-site rollout, the appointed SI needs to have the resources to interact with these multiple project teams in different time zones. Whether in the USA or China, the project needs to take all team members on the journey to ensure all factors and local differences are accounted for within the project – we will talk more about localization differences in a moment.

Fundamentally, the global MES platform needs to be designed for multi-site rollout with the appropriate version and upgrade controls and processes and your SI needs to have the experience to coordinate an international project and understand the challenges it presents.

Where to start?

The first part of the MES project will involve defining the base model for the MES. What should it be designed to achieve? What are the common goals across the sites? This will define which modules are required and will help in the selection of the best site to be used as a pilot and the subsequent order of site deployment to follow. Your MES vendor can help you in defining these essential parts of the project plan.

As with any enterprise software rollout, a targeted pilot site is needed to establish value, confirm functionality, and to alleviate any fears that are still present among stakeholders. It is essential that the whole team is on board with the project and has the right mindset. A pilot site will both help remove any doubts about the project and test the foundations of the system. The site should be selected to show the value of the MES, test the fundamental features required, and based on the local team that will be supporting it.

Meeting localization needs

A successful enterprise-wide MES project requires maximum standardization, but it also needs to be adaptable to individual site needs. Each site may have different products, product lines, rules, or other needs, requiring some level of customization from the standard. There may also be different regulatory requirements based on country or region. The MES needs to be capable of handling all needs while still offering the benefits of a common system to the organization.

The need for localization and globalization were the reasons we designed Critical Manufacturing MES V9 using DevOps Center and containers technology to enable MES deployment within a matter of minutes in the cloud, on-premises or across hybrid infrastructures. It provides the rich functionality and flexibility needed for sophisticated and complex manufacturing environments along with modern software configuration management tools. Cloud support, containerization and streamlined remote deployments are all integrated to ensure enterprise-wide operations are controlled.

The modularity of the system ensures that many common or individual site needs can be met with simple configuration, however, an MES with a low code platform provides the security of an “out of the box” solution with the flexibility of a RAD platform to create a system that can scale, adapt and capture the uniqueness of your manufacturing organization.  

Integrating sites and data

One of the big advantages of a multi-site MES is the insight it gives to processes across different facilities. This requires centralized data management and reporting to enable global analysis and the comparison of KPIs between different facilities to provide management with a global view of production.

Maintaining the future

The benefits of a global MES will quickly disappear if it is not designed to adapt to changing business needs and provide the necessary upgrade paths to adopt new functionality, while maintaining version and revision control. The ability to embrace new technology advances and readily maintain the system without fear of compatibility issues is an essential part of an enterprise-wide MES solution.

By using DevOps Center and containers technology, the MES can be deployed within a matter of minutes in the cloud, on-premises or across hybrid infrastructures. This enables users to manage product variations using a unique combination of versions, revisions and context resolutions flexibly and efficiently and gives a new level of agility to effectively manage market uncertainties, support continued market competitiveness, and foster innovation.

Summary

A multi-site MES needs to maximize standardization but allow for easy localization needs. Complex manufacturing environments will always need some level of customization and, while reaping the benefits of a common platform, the system must also be designed to embrace individual needs. Modularity is the starting point, so each site can select the functionality it needs but an integrated low code platform will also enable the flexibility required to meet custom needs.

The MES also needs to be designed for easy deployment across multiple sites and provide the flexibility to allow for cloud, on-prem or hybrid installation depending on local needs and regulations. Centralized data is essential to reap the full benefits of employing such a system and to provide visibility into the entire organization to enhance strategic decision making and drive best practices, efficiency, agility and quality throughout global operations.


All you need to know to succeed in Multi-site MES program

A multi-site MES roll-out affects multiple stakeholders and processes. We want to share our experience and expertise with you and help you get where you need to be to make your business strong, competitive and resilient for the future. This series of blogs will take you step by step through the challenges and opportunities it offers. It comprises 7 different sections, that will guide you on your journey:

1. Benefits and how to build a business case
2. Challenges of multi-site MES implementation projects and how to overcome them
3. Multi-Site project stages
4. Advantages of an MES template and a standardized approach to roll-out
5. Center of excellence / governance
6. Implementation strategy and change management
7. MES architecture for easy multi-site deployments
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