Enterprise MES (Manufacturing Execution System) Moves to the Cloudadmin1
For at least twenty years, the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) has been the key element of the factories, coordinating all operations from monitoring inventory to managing quality control. Perhaps it had started in a production line and then spread to the whole plant. Over the years, we have seen that MES became a mature and sophisticated system that can manage many facilities around the world. MES has earned the right to be recognized as a strategic global system by making the value of the data it collects and the production processes visible.
Isn’t it necessary to include MES, which has such an important role in manufacturing processes, in enterprise systems? Yes, it is. And in the end, it seems to be gaining such a position.
The 3rd annual survey on the business value of MES applications by Gartner and the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) reveals a new mindset. The majority of respondents (57%) indicated that their MES investments are enterprise-focused as opposed to the single site/one-off purchases of the past.
Investing in the future for long-term value was the key concept to emerge from the 2014 survey of 112 MES practitioners, along with these three themes:
- Acceptance of MES as part of an organization’s overall manufacturing strategy
- A move toward cloud-based MES deployments
- The creation of a Center of Excellence (COE) to connect MES investments with desired business outcomes
Perhaps some of these points – especially hiding data in the cloud – may seem impossible. Safety is the main concern in a plant. And it is recognized. However, the technology required to protect critical data is now available. It only needs to be transformed into a strategic plan. In the meantime, factory managers are benefiting a great deal of control by using cloud storage.
Although 52% of the Gartner/MESA survey respondents say they have MES in all of their facilities today, and that number is expected to drop to 28% within two years. Until that time, 21% of companies will deploy MES in a hybrid cloud and applications will be hosted in the cloud externally however, but the database remains on premise for reporting, KPIs, and continuous process improvement initiatives.
MES in the Public Cloud?
Another 4% of respondents are planning to move MES to the public cloud by 2017.
Are you scared and out of breath? Moving MES to the public cloud should not be that scary. The cloud is a mysterious and highly misunderstood technology platform, and it is actually quite reliable and safe. Let’s face it; we have all been taking advantage of shared storage of MSN Hotmail or Yahoo Mail for quite some time. In addition, companies like Google and Apple have built their business in the cloud. As the connection provided to the enterprise is fairly secure, there are ways to keep your cloud space private.
According to Gartner’s latest report, using cloud technology makes things better in terms of business intelligence:
“The rapid deployment and quick value creation that improve flexibility and reduce costs make virtualization and remote hosting major motivational factors for cloud computing. Furthermore, migration toward the cloud could help alleviate some of the reported talent and skills obstacles to MES—most notably, internal resourcing and personnel issues and the availability/quality of implementation resources (both internal and external).”
Center of Excellence (COE) Plays a Key Role
Of course, once an application starts to span the organization, there needs to be best practices and policies in place, which is why 39% of the survey respondents are moving to an MES COE that will align with the IT COE (which 50% of respondents say they will have in the near future) to focus on finding, developing, and sustaining standard processes. MES Centers of Excellence can drive life cycle governance for MES programs and accelerate benefits realization, Gartner says.
For this purpose, manufacturers, who create long-term value, look for concepts in enterprises using MES such as; increasing quality, increasing visibility across the network, enforcing best practices, reducing cycle times/lead times, increasing asset utilization, improving employee decision-making, cash flow, and regulatory compliance, and modernizing the IT infrastructure, in a company using MES.
As a result, MES goes far beyond a stereotypical closed system and taking a rightful place alongside ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and other enterprise systems. From this point on, there is no limit for MES, which breaks out of the factory four walls and become a strategic business tool.