For various reasons, manufacturers have always been looking for ways to further improve their performance. Since the introduction about six years ago, Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 have been discussed to find out how they can help in a practical way. One thing is clear, manufacturers need to be ready to be able to leverage the benefits of the new advanced technologies and methodologies. As is true for any industrial revolution in the past, also the fourth one builds it success on top of a solid foundation from the previous revolution. In this case, that solid foundation is formed by well deployed and used Manufacturing Operation Management (MOM) solutions. This is not just about the solutions, but also about the ways of working, the organizational structures and governance and the people’s skill sets.
To benefit from Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is one reason that MOM solutions, MES in particular, are becoming more important in the perception of many (potential) users: manufacturers and producers. However, the industries’ needs for MES vary widely and each manufacturing plant may have different requirements for functionality, scalability, and vendor services.
A few examples of the observations from the information provided by the 43 participating vendors to the MOM Solution Guide 2020 – MES:
- The go-to-market strategies of the participating MES vendors is varying widely. Some vendors are focusing on a limited number of industry sectors, sometimes exclusively on just one (sub) sector. Others have a much broader interest with a focus on large number of industry sectors, sometime even all.
- The most ‘popular’ industry sectors are Food & Beverages, Automotive, Medical Devices and Consumer Packed Goods (non-food) with around two third of the vendors focusing on these sectors. Least indicated as focus sector are Oil & Gas, Utilities & Public Sector and Mining. These results seem to be in line with the size of the business in these sectors in term of number of companies, i.e. potential customers.
- In terms of smart functionality for Industry 4.0, the MES solutions have a lot to offer. However, coverage of security services seems to stay a little behind. Explicit examples are provided by the vendors. It is expected that innovation will continue in these areas.
- Production Operations Management activities are better supported by out-of-the-box and configurable functionality than the activities of Maintenance, Quality Test and Inventory Operations. If extensive support for these last three groups of activities is required, a best-of-breed solution may be preferred.
- More than four fifth of the MES solutions can run in a browser on any device because of the use of HTML5. Maybe coincidentally, but nearly all of these solutions can be hosted in the cloud as well. It shows that the vendors are preparing for the future consistently.
- In general, vendors are sharing their deployment experience with their customers in order to reduce cost, throughput time and risks of the deployment. Nearly all provide configuration tools in one way or another. Many provide tools for workflow design and interface creation as well.
- With respect to their strong points for multi-site roll-out, the vendors referred to template based approach, cloud and web, configurability and scalability.