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In recent years, information technology has brought a range of improvements to how companies are run. Systems today support everything from better decision making to greater efficiency in processes, from the back office to the customer-facing front line. But in manufacturing, these optimizations have not fully reached plant operations.
Systems on the plant floor often differ from operation to operation. What’s more, plant systems often are not integrated with each other, or with company enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. As a result, manufacturers find it difficult to keep data up to date and synchronized across operations.
Plant managers lack the detailed, timely information and the tools needed to guide day-today operations—not to mention improvement programs such as Total Productive Maintenance and Six Sigma. And ERP-based information used by upper management often does not reflect the realities found on the shop floor.
Companies can move their plants forward with sophisticated sets of tools such as historians, batch managers, reporting applications, dashboards, scheduling systems and integration software, known collectively as manufacturing execution systems (MES). With MES, companies can weave together plant systems, integrate them with ERPs; give plant operators and management better information about schedules and shop-floor processes; and make better use of automated information flows.
To get started, executives need to know what MES suites offer, and the business case for implementing these technologies.
Executives should ask whether their plants’ current manufacturing IT landscape properly leverages today’s technology capabilities to provide their plants the required tools to become best in class.
Understanding how modern, mature MES solutions fit into companies helps bring greater efficiency, speed and precision to manufacturing, meeting customers’ needs more cost-effectively and accurately, and positioning themselves for high performance over the long term.
July 30, 2012
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