MES (Manufacturing Execution System) have been around for over 20 years yet there’s still little research, purchasing advice, or general assistance available for potential buyers to review. So where does one start when hunting for a Manufacturing Execution System? Sure, you can Google, but who wants to surf through countless websites through trial and error clicking? Gartner is a resource, but even that expertise is difficult to reach. The best way is to refer to someone who has experience; but before tap into your social network, it’s necessary to understand the different types of MES systems and even more importantly to determine your needs first.
What’s Your Industry?
MES systems vary by industry and how the products are manufactured. Since many industries have regulations to follow, the MES needs to be built to follow the laws. For example, aerospace requires the FAA, medical devices abide by the FDA, and heavy machinery follows the EPA. You’ll want to ensure the MES system follows your industry standards.
Discrete vs. High Volume Manufacturing Execution System
Discrete manufacturing and high volume facilities have different needs; therefore require different types of MES systems. Discrete MES are likely to focus on where a part is in the workflow, collecting information at any point in the production process, and managing quality concerns; whereas a high volume MES is likely to focus on machine performance, assembly line production, and scrap volume.
Are You An ERP and/or PDM User?
The major ERP and/or PDM systems don’t always “play well” with certain MES systems. When speaking with a sales representative, ask if your current system is compatible with the MES system they’re offering.
Paperless vs. Paperless System
Believe it or not, these are actually two different entities. Simply going “paperless” only eliminates paper. A paperless system provides a way to eliminate paper AND utilize the information digitally. If your team has reservations about going paperless, consider MES systems that include a transitional phase.
Service & Support
Locating the right MES system is only half the battle. After you find a good fit, examine implementation, training, and post deployment support. You also want to consider if your IT staff is equipped to handle maintenance of a system on a daily basis or if your company is better suited with a simple “plug and play” solution.
Try Before You Buy!
Regardless of your decision, the best piece of advice I can offer is DO NOT only rely on your requirements – demo the software. Any MES vendor should be able to provide a demo option where you can see precisely how the system works in your unique manufacturing world. If your preferred MES dealer cannot offer this option, it’s time to move onto an alternative vendor.
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