It’s always good to step back and read Gartner’s reports on our industry. As industry analysts they have great access to industry leaders and a way of distilling their thoughts into readable documents. Gartner’s magic quadrant is their own invention and in this case is a veritable “state of the industry” at a glance.
In this paper I want to hold their findings up to some scrutiny. In the very first sentence they state that third party suppliers are often relied upon to justify, select, configure, implement, integrate and extend MES/MOM systems. They are right, but is this the right approach? We have developed a 7 step plan which covers these steps with one important difference. At Step 4 we break the process. Until the product is chosen we operate independently. If chosen for the implementation then we become (if we do our job right) a real partner in manufacturing. Steps 5 to 7 involve a rigorous roll-out, frequently across multiple plants globally.
Imagine now that the MES/MOM product choice is made and it’s time to get on with it. Guess what, the global manufacturer declares they want to first implement a pilot project. The problem with this is the dynamics of a local implementation and a global implementation. Remember, at the beginning an investment budget and roll-out team had to be agreed as part of the ROI justification. Now the team must get operational buy-in at the chosen pilot plant. The result is that everyone bends over backwards to make the pilot work, as we all need an operations management that is really satisfied with the deployed MES/MOM system. With a good report the global roll-out can start, and it does.
Oh dear, the next plant will not fit the pilot solution. Why? Well because we did everything to make the pilot plant happy and that meant not properly building in the global requirements in a consistent and logical manner.
Answer to the dilemma? Set up some minimum requirements. A set of requirements that follow the 80/20 rule. 20% of the effort to get 80% of the benefit. Don’t run a pilot, have confidence in the team’s ability to define the minimum requirements and get it implemented fast. There will be plenty of time to go back and fill in specific needs – MES/MOM solutions do not have a classic end and finish. The insights they provide will make your mouth water for more. Guaranteed!
ATS Global is already ranked in the top four of MES/MOM implementation companies globally so we can afford to brag a little ?. This position has been won with a laser sharp focus on bringing our customers benefit, not sluggish IT/OT systems. Working on the shop floor puts us at the sharp end of 24/7 manufacturing so let’s just think about that all important IIoT backbone. There are still too many paper based systems and too many point to point communication applications implemented. The problem with IoT is that it usually follows and acts upon a single device. Point to point. A manufacturing plant is a complex, orchestrated process. It requires plug-and-play devices, it requires interaction between devices and the physical world with business processes. An essential element of the IT/OT structure is a Manufacturing Service Bus (MSB) which feeds and moves data around the systems and is in direct connection with devices and the physical world of the plant. We have a lightning fast, secure solution for this. We call it ATS Bus and it’s a world beater as a backbone MSB.
Finally, Gartner makes a fascinating comment about separating MES/MOM from ERP and advising manufacturers to work with partners who have experience in MES/MOM. Do not be wooed by IT companies who think they understand the physical domain of manufacturing. It is not surprising that IT suppliers can be great at managing supply chains and issuing invoices on material consumption. It is also not surprising that they really do not have a clue when it comes the beautiful synchronization of operators and machines on the shop floor relying on a genuine understanding of mechanics, electrics, pneumatics, chemistry and physics.
ATS is not the only MES/MOM company but we are one of the few that can straddle the IT/OT world globally working with inhouse or outsourced IT partners to create the self-organized plant, the dream of Industry 4.0. Keep away from the people who are inventing Industry X for their own good and work with a value proposition that not only guides the manufacturing strategy but is also willing to commit to its effective implementation. Dreams can become reality. Nice report from Gartner!