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For large manufacturers, the benefits of having effective Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) in place are clear. But implementing MES can be a complex and challenging task.
An MES enables companies to “plan well and execute as planned,” but reaching that goal is easier said than done. To be effective, an MES needs sound methodologies and applications infrastructure. It requires standardized key performance indicators (KPIs)—and the processes to monitor and act on those indicators. And it needs to be integrated with Laboratory Information Management Systems, control systems and other plant systems—and coordinated with the lifecycles and upgrade strategies of those applications.
An MES implementation also requires people with a “continuous improvement” mentality. Indeed, an MES implementation implies a transformation of the organizational mindset that aligns operators and managers with new streamlined production processes, and supports a dramatic shift from a qualitative to a quantitative approach. Overall, then, the use of an MES can present a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires the right approach to training and enabling people; to coordinating processes, practices and systems; and to fine-tuning the organization. In short, an effective MES requires a sound, comprehensive approach to governance.
It is not always clear just what part of the organization should have responsibility for MES. In the ISA-95 standard classification of industrial applications, MES is part of the level 3 technology, or industrial IT. This level is not yet clearly defined at most large companies; as a result, there is typically no formal definition of who should oversee these applications.
The information technology (IT) group and operations/automation technology (AT) group are both involved in overseeing level 3 applications. But experience has shown that often, neither of these groups has the full range of skills and knowledge needed to provide effective MES governance. To provide the appropriate governance processes, companies need to find new approaches, and establish dedicated groups that are focused specifically on MES and incorporate the strengths of both IT and AT. And they need to take concrete steps to prepare the traditional IT and AT organizations to support and enable these new approaches.
Bianca Scholten is a Manufacturing IT and vertical integration expert at Accenture, with more than 10 years of experience in the preparation phase of MES projects, including blueprints, vendor selection and business case analysis. She has guided several companies in the establishment of a governance model for manufacturing IT. She has taken part in several multi-site, multi-country blueprint studies in different types of industries, including construction materials, steel, food, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
Constantino Seixas Filho is an Automation and Production Management Engineer with 30 years of experience. In the past 10 years, Constantino has developed MES blueprints and MES global templates for several industry segments, such as mining, metals and consumer packaged goods. He also pioneered the development of master plans to prepare automation to support MES implementation. Constantino also focuses on defining complete governance programs to organize automation and Industrial IT activities in industrial companies.
Eduard Smits has more than 20 years of experience in Manufacturing IT, especially in the chemicals, metals and pharmaceuticals industries. He is currently focused on controlled and structured approaches to industrializing Manufacturing IT, leading to multisite, multi-country standardization, harmonization and template-based MES rollouts, along with effective change management. He has been responsible for strategic MES projects for multinational companies, including vendor selection and the alignment of business processes and software solutions.
September 13, 2012
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