As a solution to improve processes and connect siloed data across disconnected departments, a Manufacturing Execution System makes perfect sense. The benefits for efficiency and profitability are clear. So, how does an enterprise in aerospace and defense, medical device, or nuclear power make a decision on what software to trust? Selecting the right MES is an important endeavor, and it is one that is not free of risk. In this section, we share recommended best practices for choosing the right MES.
Best Practices for Choosing an MES
Define Goals First
Selecting the right MES starts with clear definition of the business and project goals for your organization. It is important to evaluate how an MES solution would enhance your specific initiatives before jumping into product demos, or implementation planning.
Some complex manufacturers start with goals and initiatives like:
Productivity and Lean
Consolidation of Legacy
Applications and Systems
How will implementing an MES to connect and enhance these processes and goals lead to measurable benefits for your organization? Involve key stakeholders to discuss goals and benefits prior to embarking on a selection process for MES.
Remain Aware of Industry Requirements
For complex discrete manufacturers working in high stakes industries, compliance with government and industry standards for safety, quality and supply chain is a key part of doing business. The systems in place to connect ERP, PLM and the shop floor must be based on solid frameworks.
Standards to consider include ISA95, QMS (ISO9001/AS9100/ISO13485). A framework like ISO9001 describes a Quality Management System for Product Realization and ISA95 describes MES/MOM functions.
Specify Process Requirements
Many MES solutions have been designed for continuous or batch manufacturing environments so when you’re researching for an MES provider, you want to find solutions that are focused on complex, discrete manufacturing
Proof of Concept
A proof of concept can be a strategic first step, or the last major step before a company commits to launching an enterprise solution, allowing it to gauge whether the proposed technology meets the appropriate needs as defined in the business and technical requirements analysis.
- Clarify user understanding of the system or technology
- Verify the adequacy of specifications for the system or technology
- Validate the usefulness, efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of the system(s) or technology
For 7 more proof of concept bullets, read Tom Hennessy’s blog, “You Need Proof, Not Promises When Selecting a Manufacturing Execution System.”
Debate: Custom vs. COTS
An MES solution can either be built custom, or it can be COTS (commercial off the shelf). Many COTS users reason a refined level of compliance in ready-made systems, and cite lower licensure and maintenance costs for MES. That’s not to mention the difference in cost and time investment in a custom solution. For complex discrete manufacturers, it may be wise to consider a COTS solution for MES
5 Risks to Consider
Taking the time to do proper risk management can protect the organization from unnecessary costs and heartache. Consider the following 5 risks when engaging in the process of selecting an MES, especially from the perspective of customization.
Unexpected work required in Implementation services
Insufficient hardware lack of training Improper Implementation
RiskHeavy Commitment or change in the organization
Configuration Problems and their ripple effects
External factors such as company consolidations and new strategy