The misconceptions of MES

Posted on 19 Dec 2014 by The Manufacturer

Tim Barber, European business director and co-founder of Lighthouse Systems discusses the three misconceptions that are often connected with MES.

Tim Barber, European business director and co-founder of Lighthouse Systems
Tim Barber, European business director and co-founder of Lighthouse Systems

Number 1 – MES is an IT project. 

Manufacturing executions systems (MES) involves IT, sure.  IT should be involved in its design, deployment and support but IT can’t sustain the application, can’t manage it and can’t realise the benefits.  MES has to be owned by the business.

Depending on the scope, this means Production, Quality, Inventory and Maintenance Operations.

There could be multiple owners, and ownership in Operations is a new challenge.

An MES project will need resourcing. Recognising this and planning this, is essential for the success of the project.

By implementing MES, the organisation is developing a new expertise, that of systemising its operations.  Doing it well will bring enormous rewards. 

Number 2- Operations know the details.

We’d like to think so. But the detail in the process is locked away in those who carry out the process, not in those a little bit remote who think they know how the process should operate.

There is often a lot of difference between what they think should happen and what actually happens. It doesn’t have to be a problem if we recognise that, and make sure we involve the right people, from the shop floor. 

Number 3 – MES is a one-off investment.

MES is not like buying a piece of equipment – which is static, has a life, does what it does, until it is retired.

When the MES project is finished (installed), your work is only just beginning! To deliver sustainable results, i.e. increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation, changes to the way people work often have to be introduced.  Transforming the business process may take time but it is necessary for the organisation to capitalise on the system. Then, as the organisation evolves – the MES also needs to adapt – this doesn’t have to cost the earth but it has to be done.

For these reasons MES, like continuous improvement, is a journey.

On this journey the organisation will learn more about what it can do, see more opportunities. One improvement leads to the next. The good news is that each incremental investment will bring incremental return.

Companies who successfully implement and sustain MES gain precious competitive advantages, such as providing complete product traceability to their customers, reducing costs (direct and indirect), dealing with adverse events quicker, introducing New Products better, producing more efficiently…

Understanding this, Lighthouse Systems works closely with you and your teams to help identify where the biggest returns can be made initially to ensure that your MES pays back for itself in the first six to 12 months.  Our MES software platform, Shopfloor-Online, is modular, giving you the freedom to approach MES on your own terms, at a pace that is realistic for your organisation.