Let's get in touch.
Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
To start a new series of articles with tips for introducing MES, we start with an introduction to the topic.
An MES, Manufacturing Execution System, is to be seen as an essential component of digital transformation. It enables real-time observation, control and monitoring of production. As a production control system or production management system, it serves as a link between the planning and production levels and thus establishes the connection to the ERP system as well as to the machines and plants. Central performance indicators such as quality or adherence to schedules can be easily determined in real time. The level of information provided to customers is significantly increased.
It is therefore also an opportunity for a production company to compete and to stay one step ahead of its competitors in a market that's growing increasingly more versatile.
The core tasks of an MES include machine and production data acquisition, control station functions, detailed planning, quality data management, personnel deployment planning and real-time services such as energy data management. This information can be further analysed and guarantees a continuous, IT-supported flow of information and data throughout the entire company. You can control processes precisely, evaluate them spot-on, identify and eliminate faults more quickly and optimize production processes.
For a company, the MES provides the basis for well-founded decisions concerning its production. Continuous order feedback and stock postings lead to transparency at product and workstation level, enable a granular calculation of production costs, help to optimize material stocks and form the basis for a key figure system for assessing efficiency and productivity - all in all increased productivity and thus reduced production costs.
However, the introduction of an MES is a project that requires time, resources and costs. In the following points you will find concrete tips that often sound obvious, but are decisive for the success of the project.
Start with small steps! Particularly because MES is so a comprehensive topic, you will only be success if you – while maintaining a view of the whole picture – go step by step. But where should you start? The answer to this question is to start where the biggest benefit can be quickly achieved. For the most project this would be by increasing the productivity of machines. Using the rule of thumbs – the most expensive machines first.
Many companies are missing any kind of impression on how (less) productive their machines really are. Because often the exact measurements are missing and the decision is then made by gut feeling.
Due to this the first step: start with machine data collection and use the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) for your improvement processes.
Start with two or three machines and discover the slumbering optimization potential. You could, for example, gather machine data at a low investment cost and no software instillation by connection your machines to FactorE.OS. You will then automatically have the machine data, such as number of units, cycle time and downtime.
Together with the data entry of personnel in operations, you will receive precise information over the effectiveness of the work center specifically for performance, availability, quality and OEE. You can then immediately start with the machine optimization and are thereby in the position, with minimum investment, to calculate the return on investment of the started project.
The further rollout to other machines only follows the success of this step and after you and your team have collected the initial experiences.
From our experience this first step needs time. Machine data collection (MDC) cannot be implemented on the side and needs 2-4 months challenging work until everyone is working in the same direction. And even after the implementation of MDC it is important that you continue – a machine optimization won’t run itself.
With this experience you can continue with the next steps of an MES implementation even more convinced than before.
Not every MES are equal. Pay attention and make sure that all relevant MES functional modules are available and that you incorrectly decide for a pure Machine Data Collection (MDC) / Production Data Collection (PDC) system. These systems will often be promoted as MES systems. The price can be tempting. However, can be costly after the fact if you will need additional MES modules, such as maintenance, quality or warehouse/logistics. Sometimes you are required to use solutions from third parties, which can require interfaces that can be prone to errors and complicated to integrate, or have different user interfaces, which make use and acceptance from users difficult.
An MES should be built modularly with all the various modules, that you need, to cover all the areas of production. Your system is thereby expandable according to your needs. And this without requiring you to use siloed solutions with new interfaces that must be developed. In addition, your system will work with a uniform data base where all processes perform stable and as expected.
MES modules can be flexibly built together like a building blocks. You can, for example, assemble modules, based on your needs, such as MDC, PDC, Maintenance, Quality, warehouse/logistics, etc. This provides you with the possibility to start the process where optimization is absolutely needed.
By starting here your employees can be convinced of the benefits of the system and can get use to solution. Once you get use to the new system, because you can use it and may have lost any possible reservations, any further modules integration will go smoothly.