Not having a MES is a serious misstep for manufacturers, especially those struggling with an operational plateau, because the new visibility afforded by MES carries significant benefits for increased efficiency and reduced costs that can be achievable in a short period of time. Visibility into product flow and inventory management, schedule execution and product genealogy, order execution, quality, efficiency, and root cause analysis leads to benefits such as reductions in order lead time, decreased labor costs, as well as time and cost savings from elimination of paperwork and data entry, reduction of work in process inventory, and increase in machine utilization. And, MES can help manufacturers do all of this without needing significant setup or customization.
The second consideration around breaking operational plateaus involves including all areas of your business in the effort to obtain efficiency gains. Operators have been using tools to ensure the line is operating at peak performance and they can quickly identify faulty pieces of equipment, but other areas of the business may not have had the benefit of this level of visibility into their data. Chances are, they use their own tools.
For example, the supervisor needs information to optimize product flow, machine and operator efficiency, and manage safety incidents. The supply chain manager needs to optimize to revenue targets and year to year growth while reducing costs. Operations managers focus on increasing monthly and quarterly manufacturing efficiency and reducing non-value added steps in manufacturing. It is logical to surmise that they use data to manage these things, yet Gartner reports that more than 70% of factory-generated data is unused. Any visit to a manufacturing facility will reveal continued use of paper and manual processes. Changing this paradigm is exactly what can give manufacturing operations an edge. Today’s technology makes it easy to give each person access to the information they need to do their job. Coordinating the plant, people, and processes around the usage of data to drive operational efficiency in every area of the business is a powerful cultural shift that can make significant inroads against operational plateaus. And with this shift comes more benefits.
The third consideration is the one that has the most potential impact for your business. Once you have made processes visible and created a culture of capturing and using data across the business, you have enabled a structure that can highlight what the human eyes cannot see. Today’s powerful analytics have the ability to look across your enterprise data, predict failures, identify root causes, and analyze the interplay of various processes on efficiency. While manufactures have long been concerned about infrastructure costs and security related to big data, creating a big data environment in the cloud enables manufacturers to cost-effectively and reliably transform their enterprise-wide data into a usable format for cross plant analysis and analytics. Use of the cloud for manufacturing data often leads to reduced infrastructure costs and increased security alongside unprecedented visibility and actionability for the manufacturer.