According to research from Deloitte, 80% of manufacturers “believe that smart factories will transform the way products are made and become the main driver of competition by 2025.” Despite this overwhelming majority, only 5% have a factory that is fully “smart” – and only 30% have any type of plan to convert their existing factories.
This disparity between manufacturers’ beliefs in the potential of smart factories and the current state of their implementation highlights the challenges many organizations face in adopting and integrating advanced technologies.
It also highlights the need for more strategic planning to facilitate the widespread adoption of smart manufacturing across the industry. Such planning would ideally include a robust Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and skills management strategy.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what an MES is, the benefits they bring organizations that plan to use “smart” or automated technologies, challenges in implementation, and how skills management can help you overcome them.
Table of Contents
What is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)?
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are a type of software used in manufacturing environments. They provide managers or team leaders with information that helps them understand how current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output.
After implementing an MES, manufacturing organizations can more effectively:
- Optimize schedules
- Manage inventory
- Ensure quality control
- Track equipment performance
- Allocate labor efficiently
- Leverage real-time analytics
The benefits of MES implementation
A 2023 report from The Insight Partners reveals that the market for MES was valued at more than $11 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach more than $24 billion by 2028. This exponential growth is driven by manufacturing organizations recognizing the inherent value of manufacturing execution systems.
The benefits of a well-implemented MES are undeniable. The Insight Partners also predict that these benefits will cause MES to become essentially mandatory in any manufacturing environment.
For example, organizations using MES on plant or factory floors report:
- Improved productivity and efficiency. An MES can optimize workflows, reduce downtime, and streamline processes, leading to increased productivity.
- Enhanced quality control. By monitoring production in real time, MES can identify and address quality issues promptly, ensuring consistent product quality.
- Better inventory management. An MES can track materials and components, leading to reduced waste, improved inventory turnover, and optimized supply chain management.
- Enhanced decision-making. Real-time data and analytics provided by MES can help managers make informed decisions quickly, leading to better resource allocation and improved strategic planning.
- Regulatory compliance. An MES can facilitate adherence to industry regulations and standards, ensuring that products meet required quality and safety specifications.
- Cost efficiency. Through improved efficiency, reduced downtime, and better resource utilization, an MES can contribute to overall cost savings in production processes.
The challenges of MES implementation
MES implementation is no small task, often requiring fundamental, organization-wide change. These changes naturally pose several challenges to transitioning organizations. Among them:
- High upfront costs. MES implementation involves significant initial investments in software, hardware, and infrastructure, which can strain budgets and financial resources.
- Change management. Adapting to new processes and technologies often encounters resistance from employees, necessitating training and change management strategies.
- Complexity. Integrating MES with existing systems and processes can be complex, requiring careful planning to ensure a seamless transition without disrupting ongoing operations.
- Plant and factory capability. MES implementation may require upgrades to factory’s plant’s infrastructure and equipment to align with the system’s capabilities, posing challenges in terms of compatibility and technological readiness. Here, Deloitte points out, additional challenges may arise when one factory in an organization is ready to implement an MES, but others lack the “maturity” – necessitating a slow rollout.
Aside from the high upfront costs of MES implementation, the above challenges are exactly those organizations face when rolling out skills management software in their organization. This is no coincidence; manufacturing execution systems and skills management software are extremely similar, differing most predominantly in scope, but sharing the same goal – especially so in a manufacturing context.
This also means that skills management software is well-suited to helping you through the MES implementation process. In the following section, we’ll take a look at how.
The role of skills management in MES implementation
Whereas an MES focuses on manufacturing processes, skills management software places the spotlight on the people who work in a manufacturing environment.
With this in mind, the value of skills management software becomes apparent: with a full overview of a manufacturing workforce’s skills, you can ensure that you are ready to implement an MES.
To leverage skills management software to implant an MES, you will:
- Visualize skills gaps related to MES implementation in your organization
- Develop targeted training or certification plans to fill those skills gaps
- Ensure your MES stays effective and efficient by continuously adapting training and certification strategies based on real-time skills data
Additionally, a LinkedIn article offers several areas on organizations should focus when implementing an MES. They include:
- MES architecture
- MES development
- MES integration
Let’s take a quick look at each of these three areas, detailing the skills and certifications related to them, so you’ll have a head start when you begin the implementation process for your MES.
MES architecture and development
MES architecture focuses on designing an MES’s framework to streamline production processes. It entails creating a robust infrastructure that integrates data from various manufacturing units and optimizes resource allocation.
Certifications or areas of specialization that may prove valuable for employees involved with MES architecture include:
- ISA-95 certification. An ISA-95 certification validates an individual’s understanding of the ISA-95 standard for the integration of enterprise and control systems. It demonstrates proficiency in the application of the standard for developing an effective MES architecture.
- APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). While not specific to MES architecture, a CSCP certification is highly valuable for professionals involved in designing manufacturing systems. It emphasizes end-to-end supply chain management and enables professionals to streamline processes and maximize efficiency within manufacturing execution systems.
- MQTT. MQTT is a messaging protocol for IoT-enabled devices or systems. Specialization here denotes proficiency in designing robust communication architectures that utilize MQTT for reliable data transfer, ensuring seamless integration of various components within your MES.
MES development involves the creation and customization of MES software tailored to specific manufacturing requirements. This process encompasses coding, testing, and deployment of software solutions that enable enhanced productivity and quality control. .
Employees involved with MES may need specialization or expertise in:
- C#. Proficiency in C# aids in developing efficient and customized MES software, ensuring seamless integration with manufacturing systems, and facilitating streamlined data processing and control functionalities.
- Java. Expertise in Java facilitates the creation of robust and adaptable MES software, enabling scalable and flexible solutions for diverse manufacturing needs, ensuring reliable performance and seamless integration with various systems.
- SQL. Competence in SQL assists in effective data management within MES, enabling seamless data retrieval, storage, and analysis, ensuring accurate and timely access to critical manufacturing information for informed decision-making and enhanced quality control.
MES integration revolves around harmonizing the MES with other systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Integrating these systems enhances data synchronization, providing comprehensive insights into the production cycle and facilitating informed decision-making.
Employees involved with MES integration might need specialization in the following areas:
- ERP integration. Skilled in configuring and aligning MES with ERP systems, ensuring seamless data flow and synchronized operations, enabling comprehensive resource planning and efficient production management.
- SCADA integration. Proficient in integrating SCADA with MES, facilitating real-time data exchange and streamlined control of industrial processes, optimizing production efficiency and ensuring robust operational oversight.
- Data synchronization. Experienced in managing data synchronization between MES and various systems, proficient in ensuring accurate and timely data transfer, fostering comprehensive insights crucial for informed decision-making and process optimization within the manufacturing environment.
AG5’s free MES skills matrix template
AG5 offers a free MES skills matrix template. You can use it to identify, track, and manage skills for MES implementation in your organization. The template is pre-populated with common MES-related certifications. Should you need additional or different certifications, however, you can easily add them yourself.
Use AG5 to implement your MES
The right skills management software will provide you with a centralized hub of all the skills- and compliance-related information you will need to effectively prepare for MES implementation.
Ready to see AG5 in action? Book a free, live, 15-minute demo today to see how AG5 can streamline skills management – and the MES implementation process – in your organization.
- Deloitte: Deloitte's Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Solution
- The Insight Partners: 10.8% CAGR for Manufacturing Execution System Market Worth $24.28Bn by 2028 with Software Segment Driving Growth
- SAP: What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)
- Manufacturing & Logistics IT Magazine: What can go wrong with your MES implementation?
- Science Direct: Dependencies between MES features and efficient implementation
- LinkedIn: What are some of the skills and competencies that you need to excel in MES customization and configuration?