By Mike K Williams, MESA Americas Board Member, Dow Chemical retired
Recently a group of executive level leaders in the chemical, oil and gas sector meet to discuss the needs and value of manufacturing IT investments. The group was rather vocal in its responses. One common theme being voiced by all was, “IT needs to be more responsive to Operation’s needs”. What did they mean by this statement?
When probed more deeply using technology phrases like Big Data, Mobility, Analytics they grew more aggressive and agitated in their replies with responses such as, “we generate terabytes of data today which we diligently collect with no real return on effort back to Operations” Or “there is no way a bring your own device will ever be permitted to access our proprietary process information because it is not secure”. In other words,” do not bother me with the IT buzz word of the month” to sell me software which has limited return on investment for my business.
My opinion is these leaders either do not understand how advanced information systems can improve their decision making capability with higher accuracy in shorter time OR they have been burned so badly in the past by IT promises of value creation which never materialized leaving them with systems which were no longer supportable.
Such is the message being heard in various manufacturing sectors who have been early adopters of MES / MOM solutions. There remains a pervasive belief that MES/MOM solutions are high cost to implement, under deliver on value, and miss the mark on meeting the value creating functional requirements of the business financing the project.
As a second generation of MES / MOM functional capabilities are being introduced by major OEMs and systems integrators there is a strong reluctance by business to invest in this technology beyond basic data collection services for purposes of financial reporting. Based on their responses one would infer that corporate IT MES/MOM projects have missed the mark relative to Operations needs whether it be cost to deploy, usability, maintainability or time to deliver.
Upon further interviewing, a lack of consistent and predictable project execution as well as poor education and training in the use of MES/MOM functionality is hypothesized to be a root cause of the value creation disconnect. To resolve this discrepancy and create a renewed interest in value creation through MES / MOM implementation it is proposed that a multi-pronged educational activity be undertaken before execution of the next MES/MOM project.
First and foremost, it must be clear upfront which business levers and their associated metrics are strategically imperative to a particular business. MES/MOM functional capabilities then need to be mapped to those imperatives which have the largest and quickest return on investment. An “As Is” assessment is then required to determine where the customer stands from a systems perspective. Next a gap analysis is performed between the “As is “and the functional capabilities that “Could be”. Prioritization of these gaps is then made based on time, cost, and difficulty. Creation of an implementation roadmap with a well-articulated communications plan is the final step prior to starting the next MES/MOM project.
In summary, education, evaluation, and communications are the key ingredients for successful MES/MOM projects. Choosing the right size project which delivers tangible value in timely, incremental chunks is a formula for success. One can reset and re-start the MES/MOM journey for your company by first engaging MESA by reading their extensive library of white papers on the topic of MES/MOM. Various training classes are available to educate all stakeholders and create a constructive dialog to advance business value creation through MES/MOM implementations. Joining MESA enables you to network with like-minded companies who have common problems seeking cost effective, leveraged solutions created by some of the most experienced minds in industry.