The Ultimate Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Checklist

A Manufacturing Execution System, or MES is a daunting phrase. If you’re looking at an MES implementation, you probably wish that there was a comprehensive check list. As we’ve talked about, everyone’s situation is unique.

Corso has put together the normal major topics that we have during our MES conversations.

MES Checklist:

The first thing we need to talk about is how an MES needs to serve your purposes both today and long into the future. Keep this in mind during the entire discussion and implementation!

The Beginning:

Figure out how to get an immediate ROI.

The depth and breath of what an MES system can be means that you need to start small. Why start small? Because when trying to institute an organizational change, you need to prove that it work. Start small, show not only the management level that this works. More importantly for day to day, show the operators that this works, and that this makes their life easier.

Operators are extremely important to the success of your project. Remember this!

Where you start really depends on your organization and what will help you the most. Many facilties decide to start with OEE & Downtime Tracking, Scheduling, or SPC. Some decide to try to immediately increase productivity.

So pick one or two places to start, and start with that.

What will this show?

This shows management that you can start and complete a project. Hopefully quickly. That you can acquire data. Plus the results and business decisions that are based on the data.

For the operators, who work on this everyday, that it makes a difference. Hopefully, that it makes their lives easier. Remember, it’s the little things that will help operators more than anything. Perhaps, you change from 10 buttons to 1 button. Show them that automation and MES is not something to be afraid.

Be cognizant of timeframe. An MES is a longterm project and implementation. You need to show quickly how this can provide value to keep the project on track. Take a look at something like Corso’s OEE & Downtime Tracking package to help speed the project along.

Remember Starting an MES Project Should Be Simple.

Long Term Goals

You’ve got goals. Or you’re in the process of creating long term goals. To be able to fulfill those goals, you need to pick the right software.

What is the correct software?

If we knew the answer to that, we’d just be selling that solution. In all honesty, it really depends on what your facility looks like and what you want to use.

Are you looking to integrate a brand new facility with 200,000 tags? Looking for one price and amazing integration within the parts of the software? Then Inductive Automation’s Ignition is something you need to look. Corso proudly holds the status of Premier Integrator and know a lot about the platform.

Are you a Rockwell Automation facility? If you’re comfortable with that, then you owe it to yourself to look at FactoryTalk. There are some new, interesting things coming out from Rockwell and PTC’s collaboration. Plus newer, competitive pricing for packages. Please feel free to ask us about this. We’d be happy to tell you about it.

Siemens WinCC OA is also has some interesting options. The Open Architecture software version is running on some premier facilities across the world. Corso has completed some of WinCC OA’s premier projects in the US. We’d be happy to help you compare and contrast this option as well.

Ease of Use

Everyone being able to use the system is extremely important. Now this factor will be part of the implementation and design. So you need to make sure that as a company. Having a clear goal, design, and partner while creating your MES is vitally important. We cannot stress this enough. Make sure you have the right partners in place.

Consider design, philosophy, and what has worked in the past. Are your screens working? Do you need to update to more of a High Performance HMI philosophy?

Storing The Data

There are three major options to store the data (and software) for your facility.

Physical Servers

Historically, servers were physical. There were physical spinning drives in servers and everything was running through that. There has been some large migration to the cloud. Also the Edge, Fog, and a whole bunch of other acronyms. Recently, there has been a migration back to physical servers.

What is best for you and your company? It depends on your situation. Depending on how much IT you have internally. Your wants and needs. Corso would be happy to talk to you about any and all of these options.

Cloud Servers

As stated, many options have gone to the cloud. In fact, we talked about the SCADA and MES in the Cloud in a video. Corso is a premier provider of putting SCADA and MES in the cloud. We’ve got one of our servers running on the cloud and would be happy to talk about this at length.

Cloud servers mean that we’ll need to make sure that the internet connection is rock solid. Plus we’ll want to make sure that we have the ability to store data on the machines. Now, if something goes wrong, we can forward the data when the connection has been re-connected.

Hybrid Option

Neither of those options look good? Then how about a hybrid option. One that has both physical servers and a cloud backup? One way you can go about this is using Corso Care, where Corso will store updates, code backups and more. Now you can have the benefits of a physical server, while also experiencing the benefits of the cloud when issues arise.

Long Term Support

So you’ve picked your software. You’ve got the first, critical part of the implementation selected. Design and functionality have been considered and planned. You know who will help you create your vision.

Now you’re ready to start! Right?!?!

Now so fast.

You need to think of long term support. Both from the software that you pick. Plus from the people who are going to help you.

Has the software company been around for a while? Do they have a good track record? Is your data available to export? Can you call them and talk to a person about your problem?

How about the Integrator? Can you call them and have someone pick up? Give us a call and talk to Dave. He’ll probably be drinking coffee. Are they forward thinking and offer innovative solutions? Do they invest in training and staying on-top of the industry trends?

What else are you looking for when choosing an MES solution?

If you want to learn more about MES in general, check out THE Ultimate Manufacturing Execution System Guide.