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MES Is Dead

Posted By: Brian Briggs on
Jan 31,2017

As seen in Automation World, the idea that your company can gain a significant leg up on the competition by implementing a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is over.  If your plant is not already reducing waste, identifying bottlenecks, and coordinating data across the corporation, then you are behind the curve and playing catch up.

Over the past 30 years, advancements and improvements have been made to the simple concepts contained within the general term MES.  Many dedicated applications have been developed and many companies solely dedicated to providing MES production process solutions have sprung up.

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In addition to a general surge in MES concepts and technologies, there have been efforts to drive segment specific MES application targeted to industry specific needs:

  • Pulp and Paper
  • Power
  • Pharma/Life Sciences
  • CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods)

Of course, those are only a few of the industries. Most, if not all, of the heavy players in these industries have been involved in these technologies for years. However, many companies and industries have not stayed up-to-date on adopting new technologies and strategies and several of them are no longer in business or are not thriving.

One example of an industry that did not take improving technology into consideration is the American newspaper industry. Managing editors at newspapers across the country likely cringed when Craigslist showed up on the scene with a dynamic, ever-changing classified section that was online and free.  A major source of income for most newspapers went away in a matter of years. Very few newsprint organizations developed even a simple counter to this threat before it was too late. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about local newspapers across the country that folded because of the advances in technology in these and other areas.

Another example is the American auto industry in the 1970’s and early 80s.  With a focus on consistency, detailed engineering, and quality control - the Japanese took away the U.S. auto market from local manufacturers.  It took decades for domestic car makers to recover. Many are still feeling the effects of not being prepared and forward-looking.

With new technologies like machine learning for predictive maintenance, IoT sensors, and other cutting edge technologies just beginning to enter the manufacturing space, those companies that are poised to take the next strategic leap forward are those that have already embraced and adopted the concepts of MES/MOM (manufacturing operations management) and advanced data solutions like dashboarding of integrated system data.

With the introduction of MES in the early 1990’s, the concepts and solutions have had plenty of time to saturate through various manufacturing spaces as diverse as food and beverage through pharma to pulp and paper.

It is hard to name one major manufacturing software vendor that does not have some flavor of MES/MOM offering.  Rockwell has Production Centre, Wonderware has MES Operations and Performance, Emerson has Syncade, and so forth.

The manufacturers that have embraced and adopted some version of these solutions are the ones that are prepared to pivot to address market forces and customer demands as well as move into the future and adopt higher end new and improved solutions.

Surprisingly, technology is the easiest sector to research for companies that missed the boat. Many companies either ignored or adopted new concepts and strategies in their marketplace too late. They paid heavily for not being prepared.  If you’re interested, a simple Geographic Information System (GIS) for “Companies that Missed the Boat” returns over a million results. 

With operating margins shrinking and the continuous quest for the best deal, it’s important to protect your company from ending up like the familiar example of the mom-and-pop family business staring at the groundbreaking for a big box store in the neighborhood.

The key is to find your company’s niche or method of reducing cost or improving efficiency and then creating a solid data foundation to build on.

Systems integrators such as Avid Solutions and others can help companies to catch up to the competition and surpass them using solid proven data acquisition/MES solutions and implementing advanced data analytics and business intelligence answers. The time to act is now.

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