Monday, October 27, 2014

13 Questions Reveal the Benefits of Manufacturing Execution Systems

By Conrad Leiva, International Board Member of MESA International and member of MESA’s Technical Committee

Doubting the potential benefits of a new Manufacturing Execution System (MES)? Perhaps you need to take another tour of your facility and interview people with some of these questions in hand. Here are seven key questions:

1. Has a product quality problem affected the last unit produced or the last eight hours of production?
2. Are we delivering to the daily production schedule? Can you tell?
3. Is the problem identified by routine tests at every shift change, or by an alert operator?
4. Does the situation only occur when a specific product or product grade is being produced?
5. Do all units, lines, or pieces of similar equipment experience the same issue?
6. How are you measured and what KPIs/metrics matter to you? 
7. Are there wasteful steps identified in the AS-IS business processes? 

A problem or inefficient process typically impacts multiple departments and individuals in terms of time, materials and, ultimately, dollars. Representatives from operations, business management, support organizations, suppliers, and customers should be interviewed. 

Through this process individuals will be identified to represent each of these stakeholder groups on the core team. These interviews must capture the complete picture, including the short-term impact of the current state, the long-term impact, and the worst case scenario if changes are not implemented. Some areas of consideration include any potential health and safety impacts to employees or the community, and/or the risk of failed compliance to governmental regulations or customer standards. 

Additional questions may include:

8. How is the situation affecting the entire manufacturing process?
9. What ancillary activities are being performed as a result of the problem?
10. Does one department adjusting a recipe to compensate for an equipment or raw material issue potentially disrupt downstream processes?
11. How much product has been produced out of spec?
12. Does this result in scrap or a downgraded product?
13. How much material, machine time, and labor are wasted?

In addition to identifying the issues or “pain points” experienced in the plant, it is also valuable to follow a Lean/Six Sigma approach starting with a Value Stream Map (VSM) of the process to identify non-value added steps that may be removed by automating or through the implementation of a MES/MOM solution. Through the VSM process, areas can be identified where waste occurs.

If you are a member of MESA, you can download the referenced document listed below for more information on building the business case for MES. If you are not member, please consider joining the organization and you will gain access to the complete library of resources and to participate in future studies and initiatives that further advance and document information technology in manufacturing operations.


MESA Metrics Guidebook: ROI and Justification for MES

Conrad’s career has included consulting with many Aerospace & Defense companies on how to streamline the paperwork and information flow among Planning, Inventory, Quality, Production and Supply Chain disciplines. Recently, his work has focused on manufacturing intelligence and the integration between engineering, business, and manufacturing systems working with PLM and ERP partners. Conrad is VP Product Marketing and Alliances at iBASEt. Conrad holds an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, certification in MES/MOM manufacturing operations management methodologies, and is a certified quality auditor.

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