Manufacturing Execution System, MES

What MES Can and Can't Do For Your Plant

By L2L
22 Nov 19

Companies often choose to implement a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). But before you do the same, stop and ask yourself: Why? 

Why do you need an MES? 

Often, manufacturers turn to MES as a solution for low OEE. The problem is that MES isn’t the silver bullet many think it is. 

MES may be right for your organization, but it also might not. So, take a moment to pause and determine the right path forward for your organization.


The Promise of Manufacturing Execution Systems

For twenty years, manufacturing has been trying to nail the perfect Manufacturing Execution System down. Many companies started with big ideas for MES, believing that it was going to revolutionize their plants to provide more automation and visibility. 

They thought MES could do it all. 

With enough time and money, MES probably could do everything. 

But--as you can imagine--we’ve never met a manufacturer with unlimited time or money. 

Additionally, companies are continually being sold off or acquired, leaving them with a myriad of different MES systems that present additional challenges around consistency of data, process, and integration capability.

Part of the complexity is often due to the fact that many manufacturers have a growing list of SKUs with shrinking IT support staff. This creates a conflict between the ongoing support of MES and other competing IT projects. We’re not saying implementing MES can’t or shouldn't be done, but you should know what it will accomplish and what it won’t given your budget and available resources. 


What You Won’t Get from MES

MES focuses solely on the equipment and assumes that all problems around manufacturing execution can be solved through sensors and PLC software. In reality, this is a factor, but may only account for a portion of the operational availability (OA) gap in manufacturing. It neglects to incorporate other critical abnormality management elements such as:

  • Material & packaging issues
  • Training & manpower issues
  • Quality concerns and issues
  • Spare parts & purchasing
  • Audits
  • Maintenance/TPM
  • 5S
  • Safety  
  • Trials management
  • Cleaning procedures
  • Etc.

More often than not, manufacturers are going to make more progress through the out-of-scope opportunities listed above than through the traceability and recipe management that MES focuses on. 

These are just a few of the key elements necessary for achieving optimal manufacturing execution, but traditional MES has pushed them out of scope.

This leads employees to create manual and inefficient methods like paper checklists, whiteboards, and ingrained tribal knowledge based processes to bridge the gap, further undermining the productivity of the organization.

If you're interested in learning more about the pitfalls of MES and what you can do to avoid them, download our free eGuide below. 

MES guide


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