Mainstream MES

Even smaller and mid-size companies may now find MES that suits their timeframe and budget.

Even smaller companies may now find MES that suits their timeframe and budget.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) may finally be entering the real mainstream, the mid-market. MES, by my definition, broadly functional systems that address many needs for production plants. To make the implementation time and cost affordable, these smaller and mid-size companies may not actually implement all of the functions or integration to equipment and other software that results in ideal benefits. Yet the benefits can be significant for a company that implements even just work in process (WIP) tracking and genealogy.

Here’s an example from EazyWorks, a company dedicated to delivering MES to Systems to small and medium sized high-tech companies. One of EazyWorks large ($6B revenue) customers had an array of ERP, planning and scheduling systems, but not MES. They could not tell if one of their products that came back for repair had issues with a component part that was still under warranty. So they paid full price for all repairs to replace components. That is starting to change as more recently assembled products come in for repair. Every component in the product is identified by serial number, so if a part is under warranty, they can now make an appropriate claim to the supplier. This company has also used the EZ-MES for a recall. When the supplier sent them a list of 200 components, they had instant access to where each product using one of those had been shipped.

The benefits of MES have been proven in companies of all sizes for many years. Companies like Aptean also focus on making MES as quick to implement as possible. (Aptean focuses mainly on food and consumer packaged goods industries, so the emphasis is different from EazyWorks’.) One main way to make implementation straightforward is not to try to integrate into automated equipment – or ERP. Companies such as Critical Manufacturing have also served smaller organizations in this way, with simple implementations that can grow if the company requires it.

Now many of the mid-range ERP providers have some MES functionality, though it is always good go be skeptical. Traditional ERP shop floor modules are not equivalent to MES. While ERP focuses on getting an order and related inventory through the business, MES focuses on getting a specific job to produce an individual product or batch or lot of products through the production process. It is specifically designed to help the people working in the plant. Dispatching orders and allocating resources to them as well as tracking and error-proofing those production steps are core functions.

EazyWorks has been selling successfully since its founding in 2005 with minimal sales staff. By keeping implementations streamlined and focusing on smaller companies, customers may get all of the sales and implementation support they need without ever meeting a person from EazyWorks. This is not something that most MES providers would ever attempt. With its deep functionality and the common desire to configure the system to meet very specific facility needs, most sales and implementations of MES will be significantly more than a few hundred thousand dollars.

EazyWorks publishes its price list right on the website. At $40,000 for a perpetual license, EZ-MES easily comes in as the least expensive solution for high tech manufacturing. It may be the least expensive full-function MES on the market – but that’s hard to say since no one else we know publishes a price list.

Notice also that MESA International, the industry association that has long focused on education and best practices for MES, publicly stated its drive to be more inclusive for smaller manufacturer/producers. It now offers an open LinkedIn group where members and others can ask questions and share their knowledge freely. Check it out here:

Welcome to a wide world of production performance benefits all you mid-size and smaller manufacturers! Production is the core of your business – where you add value, and where you can really see a difference in your profits quickly when you gain visibility and control. I sincerely hope that lower-cost versions of MES become available for every industry in the next few years. If you have not been looking, this may be your time.

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