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Most industrial companies with regional or global operations have worked hard to standardize their enterprise resource planning (ERP) landscapes. Standardization has helped them reduce information technology (IT) costs and enabled further improvement initiatives, such as the implementation of shared-services groups. A key to this standardization has been the use of shared, harmonized ERP templates in rolling systems out across different sites.
On the shop-floor however, most companies still support their production operations with disparate solutions. In industries such as mining, chemicals and metals, this pattern is often repeated from one facility to the next. Thus, manufacturing IT landscapes can be quite complex, and have a wide variety of solutions supporting the same types of processes in different plants. As a result, a number of multinational companies are working to bring greater standardization to the management of shop-floor systems across their networks of plants. Having seen the value of implementing standard, centralized enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, they now see the potential of taking a similar approach to manufacturing execution systems (MES).
As with ERP systems, the key to effective MES standardization across plants is a multi-site, multi-country template that spells out a consistent approach to MES that can be used across plants. The use of an effective MES template can help companies gain a more comprehensive view of all plants in the supply chain, achieve better control over plants, and optimize the plant network as a whole to drive operational excellence in manufacturing. However, creating and implementing such a template can involve challenges that extend far beyond technical issues.
An MES template will usually have to encompass a variety of plants that may be making different products. Companies will need to have a shared design and template-definition process that builds alignment and agreement across plants—perhaps hundreds of them—and find ways to layer standard approaches onto disparate operations and different cultures.
These challenges are real, but they can be overcome. Accenture’s experience has shown that by understanding the issues involved, and planning carefully, companies can create and use effective multi-site, multi-country MES templates. And those factors can be the key to driving the kind of standardization across plant networks that can help companies achieve high performance.
September 13, 2012
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