Can your MES help the company achieve your CEO’s goals? Yes, you should expect it to do that.

PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey shows executives plan to reduce costs, diversify product and service offerings, and raise prices. Over three-quarters of these CEOs are investing in automating processes and systems. Over two-thirds are also upskilling the workforce in priority areas and deploying advanced technology. (graphic) MES supports all those initiatives.

Unfortunately, most CEOs (53%) report that it is not often that “The final outcomes of the projects I review meet or exceed initial forecasts of their financial performance.” It is time to change that.

It is time to expect more from projects – including MES implementations.

Business Value in Four Dimensions

Manufacturers have been gaining business benefits from MES for years. Here are a few examples:

  • HRL Labs says MES has allowed them to streamline their operations, reduce dead material time, and do things that were not previously possible.
  • Ultradent is moving toward a single MES for the very different manufacturing environments in its vertically integrated model, from molded plastic parts to final medical devices.
  • Vishay is replacing over 50 legacy systems in 30 plants with a single MES.
  • AT&S found “Our customers are more interested in our data. We can provide, for example, our process traceability data and our mapping of each single unit to trace back to what was happening at every station. This data can prove our process control and quality control are very strong.”

What about value at the business level? MES can also ensure that customers succeed with the four things that are top of mind for CEOs:

  • Winning more business
  • Improving cost and quality
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Achieving the right MES total cost of ownership (TCO)

Win More Business

Sales and manufacturing may seem like opposite ends of the business with little direct communication. However, the right MES can significantly help the sales process for current customers and win over prospects before the contract is complete.

In the early stages of buying, most companies send an auditor to vet the company and its capabilities. Companies with a modern MES and readily available data will impress auditors. It is essential to show the data in a way that each auditor might want to see it. Look for a way to configure dashboard views for each customer or prospect without compromising other customers’ data.

Manufacturing that’s better managed also leads to improved service levels. However, with increasingly complex configurations, meeting service levels is challenging. MES needs an array of capabilities to support excellent performance even in a high-mix environment.

  • A way to maintain the bill-of-material (BOM) and apply variations specific to each order as it becomes the manufacturing BOM (MBOM) for MES to execute.
  • Adaptive scheduling automates schedule updates and regeneration based on user-configured frequency needs.
  • Multi-level order and material scheduling that automatically manages scheduling priorities based on in-hand orders, even with multi-step, parallel processes where steps overlap.
  • Split and track out for effective materials tracking without customization, even when a single batch is split for processing in multiple process streams.

In the ongoing race for competitiveness, companies in high tech industries must also continue to focus on new product introduction (NPI) speed and cost. Seek out MES that offers a way to see differences between older and new products instantly. This comparison capability boosts understanding and speeds up approval of changes while making it more efficient to maintain accurate master data.

Source: Critical Manufacturing MES – BOM

Improve Cost & Quality

For example, some MES ensures that trainees cannot make mistakes with no one knowing. The system might have a trainer sign-off until an employee is certified. The system might also log check-in and activities for both trainer and trainees’ activities.

Automated notification of events speeds reaction time. Thus, alarms and notifications are crucial to avoiding cost and quality problems. The system might enable users to configure events or conditions that trigger a notification, business rule, or alarm. A GUI (graphical user interface) that you can personalize also improves efficiency for each role.

Semiconductor and electronics companies need advanced capabilities to speed reaction times. For example:

  • E142 support for substrate maps can speed the upload and download of maps to and from equipment. Ideally the system will also provide substrate traceability information for each unit ID.
  • If a system automatically evaluates the sampling plan within a line, it can determine the need for further inspection.
  • Pinpointing defects on the ECAD layout or the pin number is a precise and visual way to designate problem components and their locations.
Source: Critical Manufacturing MES – Alarms and Notifications

Increase Employee Engagement

Finding and training employees is a significant challenge for discrete manufacturers right now. So, retaining and maximizing efficiency for your people is crucially important. Gallup’s State of The Global Workplace 2022 Report indicates that only 21% of employees are engaged at work. The right MES can help combat disengagement for frontline workers, which typically helps improve quality and costs.

The foundation for this is to deliver clear guidance to operators and technicians. But what’s clear to one person may not be to another. Look for software with enablers for a wide variety of employees to succeed and fully engage with their work. For example, a feature that recognizes the employee’s voice requests so they can query a Chatbot to initiate a command or retrieve needed information can support workers quickly, confidently, and intuitively doing their work. This natural language capability gives those who have not been using the system as long a chance to be just as effective as their long-time peers.

Also, to address color blindness, changing the color palette to match this vision challenge can significantly boost the clarity of visual cues. This capability can also accommodate those with myopia. No matter the vision challenge, boosting their confidence in what they see will lead to better engagement.

Source: Critical Manufacturing MES – Color blindness mode

Achieve the right MES TCO

With any comprehensive enterprise software, one of the critical elements to consider is not just the up-front cost but the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO). Typically, integrating a broadly functional system with other software suites is a significant challenge. Application and system maintenance can also be challenging and time-consuming.

Out-of-the-box low-code integration MES to other enterprise software, plant IT systems, or operations technology such as equipment and automation can speed and ease integration. This goes beyond an IoT platform to speed integration to any system a plant, factory, or fab might have.

Low-code addition can also vastly improved MES maintenance. Look for modern architectural features such as containerization and DevOps support. To further streamline maintenance and enable consistent yet flexible rollout of MES, even for global multisite implementations, a modern architecture is crucial.

Expect More from Your MES

So, when considering MES, you can now focus on improving your operation and deliver what the CEO cares about. You should expect your MES to enhance your ability to win business, improve costs and quality, engage employees, and provide the TCO that meets or exceeds the business case.

Find an MES that will meet and exceed your expectations – and the CEO’s.