MES, Now and the Future

MES Systems (often referred to by many other names, such as MOM, Smart Factory, Digitisation, Paperless Factory, Industrie 4.0 )  for current manufacture within Australia are either non-existing or monolithic.

Most plants have automation and a central management system in place. Usually, the management functions will be undertaken using paper. This is still by far the largest group. LNS Research shows that close to 80% of factories do not have a MOM system. They rely on manual operator entry; this reduces accuracy and is time consuming, but does mean that every item is sighted by human eyes.

Where production systems have been digitised, the clear majority of solutions is the  traditional “Monolithic MES.” They involve big software solutions that include ISA 95 / S88  functionality or principles. They are usually built around a proprietary database installed at the plant. The MES typically becomes a beast, hard to manage and modify, with very few people able to maintain it. Many people we talk to consider, with good reason, that this is the only solution model.

The return to cloud-based (or mainframe) solutions will occur for some, but many with stay monolithic or take on a distributed model. Future solutions need to be lighter, well documented and easily maintained.

In the future, I can see the current divide between what the public sees and production activity diminishing and becoming transparent and open. This dream is a long way from current reality for several excellent reasons. In the future there will be no divide, no interfaces, no integration. "The end game is when we get back to the beginning... just efficient and flexible factories run by people and systems that are continually learning and improving." (From  "The Seven Lives of Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM)"

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