There are hidden treasures at the manufacturer’s shelf and we are not talking about the inventory shelf. We are talking in this article about the IT shelf of already owned software that is not being used. More specifically about the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) or Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software the company purchased a few years back that hasn’t been deployed to its full capabilities.
Gartner has recently published some interesting results from a joint survey with MESA International — results that validate this premise.  Figure 1 below (Figure 4 in the report) shows that even though most companies have achieved the expected return on investment (ROI), they still believe that there is more value to capture with their MES.
It seems that it is easy to achieve the initial benefits and then move attention to other things. Does management even know about these potential benefits? Has the organization bothered to present these additional areas of improvement as possible phase 2 or phase 3 projects with their own ROI?
I have seen these types of stories often. The next steps are perceived as harder work. We took care of the “low hanging fruit” in that first phase but the next phase is going to take harder integration work. However, the potential benefits can also be much bigger.
In fact, MES is a foundational enabler to the Smart Manufacturing strategy and it was probably not positioned that way in its first implementation. MES is often implemented and justified based on the benefits of eliminating paper-based processes in production. However, as illustrated in Figure 2, Gartner has documented that companies that fully embrace the MES as an enabler for more process improvement and business transformation are achieving three to ten times the initial benefit in the next three to five years. 
The fact that the MES is not fully rolled out to all facilities and programs might be obvious, but the fact that there is more functionality and integration potential left on the table might be a little less obvious. Typical areas of process improvement post initial implementation of the MES include:
- Integration of in-process quality management processes, material review board (MRB), rework specifications, and corrective action management
- Integration of automated factory equipment like parts placement and inspection equipment that collected a lot of data that could be pumped directly into the MES
- Integration of engineering data directly from the PLM system including 3D CAD as the basis for 3D visuals for work instructions and integration of specification in PMI directly into the MES inspection verification requirements
- Integration of the supply chain management processes including supplier quality management
If your company has forgotten to pursue these opportunities, you are not alone. But the good news is that you have already done the hard work of implementing phase one of the MES. It is time to fully leverage that initial investment and start planning the next phase of MES at your organization.
If you have access to MESA International or Gartner’s research papers, I encourage you to read these reports for more insights on how to get the most value out of your MES investment.
 Survey Analysis: More MES Value to Be Captured from Supply Chain Collaboration and IIoT, Franzosa and Jacobson, Gartner, 2019
 Get the Most Out of Digital Manufacturing by Extending the Value of Your Manufacturing Execution System, Franzosa, Gartner, 2016