Usually, the goal of a multisite MES program is to improve the efficiency, profitability, transparency, auditability, and sustainability of production. However, before such a project can be undertaken, the potential business benefits of the MES program must be defined.

Have vision

A company-wide definition of a future state vision that guides the program and digital transformation is necessary for the success of a multisite MES program. The most crucial step in developing a strong business case is to recognize and measure any potential advantages of the system adoption and process improvements. The driving force behind this future vision and business case is typically a combination of::

1. Existing problems and opportunities to ensure the effective execution of manufacturing operations and to improve production performance

Are legacy systems becoming increasingly difficult to maintain? Do they meet your future vision for the business? Does quality and regulatory compliance cost you too much? Is the equipment being utilized to its full potential?

2. Key business drivers of financial impact to create competitiveness, grow a business, or even maintain business

Are costs rising? Is it becoming difficult to keep pace with the competition? Are new products too slow in coming to market? Do you have a true understanding of manufacturing costs and where efficiencies can be gained? Do you want to foster greater innovation? Do you have enough manufacturing capacity?

3. Company strategy driving changes to mitigate possible risks or tap into new business opportunities

Evaluate the risks your business faces today and look forward. Can you find the room to free resources to add innovation and value to the business? Do you have the information you need to fully understand current and future production costs and where potential risks to business lie? Do you know where your best return on investment lies?

Building the business case

The business impact of a multi-site MES needs to be specified in order to build a strong business case. Several stakeholders, including those in the supply chain, operations, finance, and even sales and marketing, should be involved in defining this. If you take the whole organization with your vision for the future and foster their input, you have a much greater chance of succeeding in your digital transformation. When considering what benefits a new system will deliver, it’s important to remember that, in addition to financial benefits, there are also qualitative benefits that cannot be quantified in financial terms.

There are many benefits associated with a multi-site MES and the full potential of such a system may not be realized until you have implemented the initial phase. In general, however, the benefits and business value of such a system can be divided into four main categories:

1. Increased revenue

A multisite MES has the potential to significantly increase revenue by increasing productivity and reducing cycle times. With full traceability of production processes, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) can be readily measured and optimized. By incorporating an Experiments Management module within the MES, manufacturers further have the potential to lower both development and production costs as well as speed up new product introductions (NPI). As an integral part of the MES, experiments can be conducted alongside daily production schedules with complete transparency. The inherent data collection and visibility the MES provides f means engineers can gain in-depth knowledge of the process variables and their effect on production, helping them find ways to improve the quality and reliability of processes and products.

2. Reduced costs

A multisite MES helps increase production efficiency and enhance quality. In turn, this enables the amount of labor, materials, and energy required in production to be optimized and costs lowered.

By ensuring products take the most efficient route through manufacturing and by monitoring and analyzing data from production processes, production cycle times can be reduced, and the use of resources optimized.

Quality is a cornerstone in the production of sophisticated or regulated products. The collection and analysis of real-time data from multiple sites enable continuous process improvements and a proactive approach to quality. Rather than end-of-process inspections, continuous monitoring means any issues can be identified and rectified early reducing the amount of scrap and re-work associated with global operations.

3. Reduced risks

Having a common system in place across multiple sites reduces risks associated with managing and maintaining different legacy systems and interfacing with existing and new equipment. By choosing a single MES solution operating across global sites, best practices can be more easily identified and controlled and the risk of non-compliance with regulatory requirements reduced. In turn, this creates higher confidence in the quality and compliance of products produced, significantly lowering the risk of mistakes, re-work and customer recalls.

4. Qualitative benefits

One of the main benefits a multisite MES can deliver is a full digital twin of operations with complete visibility of all manufacturing processes, pipelines, and the wider supply chain. The advanced analytical capability will enable data to be turned into valuable information that will support decision making, both in day-to-day operations and longer-term enterprise strategy. There will be a ‘single source of truth’ and a deeper understanding of processes, reducing reliance on operator experience and increasing business resilience. Ultimately, the system can increase employee engagement and satisfaction and strengthen brand reputation with increased customer satisfaction.

Why multi-site?

Many of the benefits of a modern MES solution would apply to a single manufacturing site. However, by applying across multiple sites, the depth of knowledge, insight into processes and best practices, and overall intelligence added to the business increases. The physical architecture of a multi-site MES also offers benefits:

  • Single point of development

A common system means a single point of development. The system has the flexibility to adapt to individual site needs, but the core components mean a single development will benefit all sites.

  • Single point of upgrade

If upgrades are needed, they are automatically deployed across all sites, saving time and cost while reducing risks associated with separate upgrade paths that lead to system divergence.

  • Ability to quickly roll out sites

Once the initial pilot has been tested, the system and any future upgrades can be quickly rolled out to all sites with minimum overheads required.

  • Fewer data silos 

Having all data in a single place for multiple sites ensures full sharing of knowledge, identification of best practices, and easier data management. You will find the accuracy and reliability of data will increase and, with it, the confidence of managers, engineers, and operators in the decisions they make.

All you need to know to succeed in multisite MES program

A multi-site MES roll-out affects multiple stakeholders and processes. We want to share our experience and expertise with you and help you get where you need to be to make your business strong, competitive and resilient for the future. This series of blogs will take you step by step through the challenges and opportunities it offers. It comprises 7 different sections, that will guide you on your journey:

1. Benefits and how to build a business case
2. Challenges of multisite MES implementation projects and how to overcome them
3. Multisite project stages
4. Center of excellence / governance
5. Advantages of an MES template and a standardized approach to roll-out
6. MES architecture for easy multisite deployments

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