Manufacturing Execution System, MES, Visibility

Why Visibility is Key to Winning with an MES System

By Mark Hungerford
30 Aug 19

Imagine a football game with no scoreboard, no coach on the sidelines, and they just keep trying the same play over and over again with no progress.

Doesn't sound like much fun to me, and the stands would likely be pretty empty.  Unfortunately, this is the state of many manufacturer's MES systems. They often lack the real-time visibility that shows whether they are winning or losing. How you change things up when things don't go as planned has an impact on the team.


Poor visibility has huge financial and operational impact in the areas of: 

    • Excess Overtime
    • Increased Inventory
    • Missed or delayed orders
    • Expedited shipping
    • Low employee morale

Lets dig a bit deeper into the 3 key elements of visibility: 

 1. Your MES system should be your digital scoreboard

Manufacturing has limited time to execute their production plans to meet customer demands. How they execute the plan determines a win or loss.  

Your MES system should tell you the score as it relates to the key metrics, such as Operational availability, OEE, Scrap/Yield and Productivity to name a few. Your ability to know the status of these metrics in the game will greatly impact your ability to rally your team around a common goal.

2. Your MES Playbook

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson

All too often I see manufacturing plants trying to build perfect production plans for fairly weak operations. For example if your OEE is 60%, chances are you're going to miss your production orders pretty regularly. Systems like L2L are built knowing that things don't always go as planned, and you need the ability to readjust and refocus on the fly.

If the the other team's defense keeps blocking your offense, you don't give up. You go back to the drawing board, adjust, try a new play: 

    1. Once you know the score you will know that you have a problem and what you're doing isn't working. "Time to call a new play."  
    2. Set challenging targets, and when things miss, take your schedule and redistribute it with the remaining time on the clock. Put on your rally caps and get back in the game.
    3. Complex excel production schedules with lack of real time visibility are a losing combination on the shop floor. An MES system like L2L are providing play-by-play visibility to the whole team on the performance.

3.  There is no "I" in TEAM

I am continually amazed at the lack of confidence many managers have in the aptitude of their people.  In visiting plants all over the world I hear things like:

    • "I don't want my operators to have to touch anything."
    • "I don't think my people can do this."
    • "We have an older workforce." (My dad is a baby boomer and spends more time on his iPad than anyone I know.)

I am continually stunned by their lack of ability to challenge and help all of their employees continue learning and adapting to technology. Here are a few tips for addressing this: 

    1. When you provide digital tools and solutions that make peoples jobs easier, they work with you and not against you and will rise to the challenge and win.
    2. They want to fix problems, but often don't have a voice. An MES system like L2L give them the ability to throw in the flag when there is a problem, and get it resolved.
    3. Engaging in the business allows them to see that the customers are demanding and sometimes things change that will force an extra changeover. The more you can help them see how the business works through technology, the easier it will be to change and adapt.
    4. Make it visual and they will make it happen.

Building processes that are visual can and will help you manage the chaos of the shop floor. There is no perfect plan so be prepared to have to adjust on the fly and your team will be in position to score. 

Want to experience the power of real time visibility firsthand? Get your free demo of L2L's CloudDISPATCH to discover a next-generation MES system that will help your plant achieve operational excellence. 

Schedule Demo

 

 

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