This is a continued discussion on the topic of Agile Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and how it is different than an Agile deployment strategy. In this article I’ll talk about how it is now possible to do both. This combined strategy is a powerful model to overcome what has traditionally been very difficult to achieve – install a Manufacturing Execution System quickly. To some this might seem like a holy grail – something akin to an urban legend. I am here to challenge that thought – now you can truly have your cake and eat it too!
Read my last article to understand a baseline of where this discussion began.
End of Life for Monolithic Applications & Development
One thing should now be clear. In an environment where speed, operational flexibility, and a fast response is the norm, it is hard to justify a Waterfall strategy. This applies to application development, implementation strategy, or application architecture. Similarly, the case to build or install a monolithic software application is becoming harder to justify as well.
A monolithic strategy results in complex, difficult to manage installation projects that can sometimes drag on for years, and applications that are difficult to maintain, complex to upgrade, and inevitably will become out-of-date.
An agile MES and deployment strategy introduces a radical innovation shift with how an MES can be installed and maintained. By using a microservice architecture, an MES can now be designed around a set of loosely coupled services. A single application might have up to 5,000 separate microservices, each one easy to maintain, test, and independently deploy – or not.
Over time, small or large changes can then be introduced easily without a need for major code reworks or upgrades. Each service can be adjusted on its own without a need for reintegration. A common set of APIs is maintained allowing new services to be added or removed as often as needed. Further, the ability to accelerate innovation by adopting open-source standards increases, given the fact that APIs are now all consistent.
One + One = Three
What should now be apparent is the powerful combination of implementing an agile MES with an agile deployment strategy. An agile product architecture is modular, easy to modify, and can accommodate future changes in a deployment strategy. And, with the ability to very easily add new features, the pressure is substantially reduced on trying to get all right at the start of the planning stage for deployment. Stakeholder requirements can adjust during the implementation and thereafter without impacting the overall timeframe to go live.
This combined capability can save hundreds of hours and substantial costs by not taking months fixing middleware or software code to keep everything working smoothly. It opens the door to frequent, reliable, and fast delivery of new MES services, updates, and improvements.
The iBASEt Manufacturing Execution System, part of the company’s digital operations suite, is unique in that it can be deployed as an agile MES application. Reflecting an aggregation of over 5,000 microservices, it can be implemented and maintained one service at a time. This is a game-changer – one that delivers benefits well after the original set of code has been prepared.
Agile in a Time of Change
We now live in a period of extreme change. Right now, the future is quite unpredictable. Why should we think our manufacturing systems should now remain static? Agile product development and deployment strategies have completely transformed how software applications are written and installed.
Agile MES applications are the next step and will change how manufacturers plan and execute operations processes. Those vendors clinging to traditional ways are likely to struggle in the years to come. Those introducing an agile approach to MES are likely to emerge as tomorrow’s leaders.
Interested to learn more? Then you should watch this webinar recording to learn more about the importance of retiring aging legacy MES applications today and the steps required to get this process started. Those stuck using a home-grown system should also take note to seriously consider the costs involved to maintain such a system compared to the new features, adaptability, and new advanced technologies that can be unlocked with a modern MES that is professionally maintained and operated.