Monday, December 20, 2010

Once again ROI from MES - Not Really!

So much has bee written and discussed about ROI for MES. I got involved in the latest discussion on a LinkedIn group. I guess that this question is one of the great phenomena of the MES domain. Unlike other types of systems (ERP, QMS, PLM, etc.) the returns and direct benefits hardly provide enough to justify the investment. To complicate matters even more the actual reasons for employing MES differ not only by industry but also by customer. Para-phrasing Paul Boris from the LinkedIn discussion “it is like explaining to your kids why they should eat their veggies”.

It is no wonder that MES solutions are typically the last ones to be implemented in the typical manufacturing solution landscape. It is simply too hard to provide a clear and concise return or benefit from an MES alone or at least to justify the investment – and MESs do not come cheap. On the other hand it is obviously much easier when there is a specific and typically catastrophic event that needs to be remedied, such as a recall, 483 (FDA warning letter), regulatory compliance, detrimental quality issues, etc.

MES need to be thought of as enablers for operational excellence where the ROI and benefit come from the “Whole” solution and not the system. For example more efficient process, better quality, effective material management, etc. The ROI and/or benefits have to then be attributed to The Whole Solution – focus on the solution rather than the System (i.e. MES).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The power of collaboration

Last week I participated in a conceptual design process for a facility and process revamp with one of our customers. This is the first time in quite a few years where I worked in multi-disciplinary team that was tasked with coming up with options and solutions for a new process line. Obviously my responsibilities where around the Manufacturing Systems – nothing new here.

It was one of those experiences where I knew how effective such a collaborative process is, yet a verbal explanation does not do it justice. Kind of like trying to teach somebody how to ride a bicycle by reading a book. Quite simple you would think -just peddle and hold your balance – right?

So I now once again have renewed appreciation not only for the other engineering disciplines and level of competency required but also for the importance of collaboration in engineering projects. It is refreshing to once in a while get back to basics, hopefully I will get a few more chances to do that.