Information Technology

MES in the Automotive Sector

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In this article I would like to transmit my experience focusing in why an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is needed specially for the discrete industries like the Automotive segment and how we take as much profit as possible from the investment, the so called ROI (return of investment).&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Let us list the typical drivers that moves an industry to go for a digital strategy.&nbsp;</p><ol><li style="text-align: justify;">Your lines and machines are not transparent enough. e.g. OEE and downtimes reasons, or another important production KPIs.&nbsp;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">You still have a lot physical paper production, e.g. production scheduling, production processes for workers, etc.&nbsp;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">You have a lack of traceability, e.g. income goods traceability, or product process parameters.&nbsp;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Detailed scheduling for production orders&nbsp;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Need for IIOT use cases implementation as Energy efficiency, predictive maintenance, or machine digital twins.&nbsp;</li></ol><p style="text-align: justify;">As I don&rsquo;t represent any MES supplier, the idea of this article is to think and evaluate my recommendations that can come when you start your digital journey with a MES implementation.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">I can list more bullets but I want to make it simple and pragmatic. If one or more of the above bullets meets you, it means that you probably need to start a production digital strategy for you plants. This topic is very complex as it depends on your list of requirements and that will come from your actual production leaders, my recommendation here is to go bottom-up for these requirements. Please validate those top-down management requirements with the shop floor. Don&rsquo;t keep away the shop floor requirements!&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">My second recommendation is to make a concrete short list and compare really technical advantages and disadvantages and again make this decision on the technical level. You can of course take a look at the Gartner quadrant for a first overview of the main players in this technology. When you compare the technological companies, please keep in mind the ISA-95 standard, you should follow the proper digital strategy from the shop-floor till your ERP, make sure that the ERP vs MES integration works seamlessly. Chose the right technology according to your technical investigations!&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Going through my further recommendations, you probably heard that before but in the case of the automotive industry is particular simple to &ldquo;start small&rdquo; and then implement further plants or lines. &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Coming back to the ISA-95 norm, even if I will not get in detail in this article about this topic, I really would like to take this point roughly on the table. You should decide if your MES will have focus in the reports, e.g. as a passive system, unidirectional communication, or if you would like to have an <strong>active bidirectional MES, </strong>and not use the system for reporting and transparency but also as a recipe container, traceability, and machine interlocking purposes as well. This very important topic will give you an insight on which technology you should use and how you should implement and code the MES. This point is also IT relevant not only because of OT security reasons but also because of the servers&rsquo; availability and its hosting. <strong>Remember to include in your requirements list which will be your production availability target!</strong>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Fernando Sanjuan