What often happens after a MES implementation?
In the first weeks after Go-Live, the operators are guided in the use of the system. The project team was then disbanded and they were dependent on the key users and the support department in the event of malfunctions.
In the course of time, various developments take place that make it necessary to arrange more and more things “outside the system”. People are very creative in developing workarounds.
Over time, the benefits that people wanted to achieve with the Manufacturing Execution System are diluted and a new system is once again considered, even before the technical lifespan has been reached. Maintaining and improving the system is cheaper in the long run.
How do you prevent deterioration after an MES implementation?
An annual scan is important to maintain the added value of the MES at the right level and to maximize the return on investment (ROI). A large number of points are taken into account in this scan:
- Are all functions in the system fully utilized?
- Have adjustments been made to the process that the MES does not provide for and which workarounds have been devised?
- Which new releases of the MES are available with interesting new functionality?
- Have there been any changes to one of the systems with which MES is linked?
- Is the current user / operator list still correct?
- Has the reporting been given new requirements?
- Is the support organization still sufficient?
The scan can be performed by your own management organization. If this is not existing or if there is a need for an fresh external look, we can perform this scan in a short time. The result is a clear overview of the improvement capability.
In what ways can you optimise MES?
1. Fully utilising MES functionalities
By default, MES contains more functionalities than necessary at the start of the project. There are also built-in features for rare situations that are not properly exposed during training.
Then you often see that the users, usually out of ignorance, come up with their own solutions. Certain registrations are then again on paper or for a certain calculation we use a spreadsheet. That’s too unfortunate.
If we had used the system properly, this would save time and reduce the risk of errors.
2. Adapt MES as process change
Over time, adjustments are made to the process. This may be the installation a new tank, making an extra connection between two process parts, placing an extra printer on the packaging line, and so on.
In the case of a new tank or additional connection, the control system and the SCADA system are adapted but sometimes the Manufacturing Execution System is not. Which creates “gaps” in the recording and tracking in the Manufacturing Execution System.
This can extend into the ERP system. Here too, additional administrative actions are required by the operator and the risk of errors is greater.
3. Integrated approach
An example: when converting a packaging machine, the settings from the Manufacturing Execution System are downloaded into the machine. During an overhaul, the packaging machine has been adjusted and there are now more options for setting the machine automatically.
Adding the new parameters in the Manufacturing Execution System and adjusting the interface was not part of the overhaul.
After the overhaul, operators had to manually enter certain settings on the packaging machine. Extra actions, longer changeover time and greater chance of errors.
4. Implementing a new version
The supplier of the Manufacturing Execution System regularly releases an update. The new release often contains new functionality that has been developed on the basis of practical experience and specific customer questions.
It may well be that this new functionality is also of value to your process. Since you are entitled to the new release because you pay maintenance costs for it, it is worth looking into this carefully.
5. Keeping knowledge up to date
New users have not had the training. That the others received when the system was commissioned. They learn from their colleagues. They know the most common actions, but often not the exceptional cases. This can lead to incorrect input or even loss of production capacity. Training can be useful for this group.
We also often see that support departments, such as planning, inventory management and quality, are increasingly seeing the possibilities of the Manufacturing Execution System. Adapted training can also be useful for this group, so that they can make optimal use of the data present in the Manufacturing Execution System.
6. Using available data
The Manufacturing Execution System contains more and more (historical) data of the process, such as material transactions, quality information, process details, down times and causes. This is valuable information for, for example, trend analysis and improvement projects.
In most cases, this information can be easily retrieved and made transparent with the included reporting software. Often the capabilities are not known to the users and data is retyped into spreadsheets or in the worst case not used at all.
Developing some new reports or providing training in the use of the reporting software contributes to improvement of the processes.
7. Optimising support
At the end of the project, a contract has been made with the supplier stipulating the kind of support the supplier will provide. The aim of the support is to minimise or limit production downtime in the event of a (technical) problem in the Manufacturing Execution System.
Whether this is successful depends to a large extent on the support organization of the supplier. But also of the internal organization; do users respond in the right way, do they already do the necessary analysing themselves and do they contact the support department on time?
It must be periodically evaluated whether the supplier has fulfilled its obligations and whether the users are following the agreed procedures correctly. If necessary, the contract with the supplier can be adjusted and users can receive refresher training.
More about a Manufacturing Execution System
MES optimisation testimonials
MES optimisation for Royal Avebe
In 2014 and 2015, MES was implemented in the factories in Foxhol and Gasselternijveen. A number of points for improvement emerged: improving user-friendliness, preventing downtime, preventing human error and improving the link with SAP. Greywise still carries out the functionality analysis and the project management.
MES Optimisation Scan at CONO
A year after the start-up of the new cheese factory, Greywise carried out a scan from which various points of improvement emerged. A proposal for its implementation has been made and submitted to the management. A number of improvements have been made.
Are you curious about how you can make improvements to optimise your MES? We are happy to show you.
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