How can you select the best Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for your environment?  You need to know which vendor’s capabilities best match your actual manufacturing needs. More specifically, you want to match capabilities to the manufacturing styles that are prevalent in your manufacturing sites.

Gartner 2020 Critical Capabilities Report

Gartner addresses this big question in a detailed assessment of each vendor in their 2020 Critical Capabilities report for Manufacturing Execution Systems stating:

“This report evaluates vendor products against a specific set of critical capabilities and use-case scenarios, unlike the Magic Quadrant, which compares vendors in terms of Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute (see “Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems”).”

We believe it’s crucial to evaluate MES against manufacturing styles because they have a major influence on selecting the most appropriate MES. In many cases, manufacturers have to support multiple manufacturing styles across a wide range of product categories.

To support the goals of the report, Gartner digs into a wide range of MES functionalities, examining 14 critical capabilities that are essential to deploying and managing MES. They are: production execution; configurable workflow; in-process quality management; data management and collection; regulatory compliance and traceability; analytics, reporting and performance; product suite extensions; production equipment integration; ERP/SCM integration; PLM/PDM integration; architectural maturity; user experience; implementation process, and ease of upgrade.

It is with great pleasure that we note that the 2020 Gartner Critical Capabilities Report for Manufacturing Execution Systems, recognizes Critical Manufacturing with the highest product scores out of 20 vendors for three out of seven manufacturing use cases. Critical Manufacturing MES scores highest for Batch/Repetitive Flow – Engineer to Order, Complex Discrete – Make to Order and Complex Discrete – Engineer to Order. For Batch/Repetitive Flow – Make to Order and Batch/Repetitive Flow – Make to Stock Critical Manufacturing MES scores third and fourth respectively.

Critical Capabilities by Style

Complex discrete use cases cover the production of an enormous array of complex physical products. This complex environment is an area where the Critical Manufacturing MES excels because of its modern architecture, flexibility, and scalability coupled with deep domain expertise and experience across complex industries such as semiconductor, electronics assembly, and medical devices. 

For example, we engage with medical technology customers with very specialized operations and many product types, sometimes with extreme vertical integration spanning the full range of discrete and batch manufacturing processes, including molding, batch formulations, recipes, filling and packing, automated assembly and kitting under one roof. In many cases, production ranges from high volume/low mix where thousands of the same parts or components are produced every day to very low volume/high mix where no two products are alike. 

In the semiconductor segment, front-end wafer fabs with cleanroom requirements and extreme automation and ‘lights out’ production requirements must integrate seamlessly with backend test, assembly, and packaging for full traceability across operations. In the complex world of electronics assembly, manufacturers need MES flexible enough to handle the complexity of sophisticated Surface Mount Technology (SMT) lines for printed circuit board production and mixed line assembly of final products with a single MES system.

See how Critical Manufacturing has been scored for the following manufacturing styles:

Agility and Speed are Top Differentiators

With every new customer, we are reminded that demands on manufacturing are becoming increasingly complex and subject to constant change. Manufacturers today must react rapidly to market conditions to deal with the unanticipated. They thus need the ability to access and unlock the meaning of varied data to gain real-time, deep insights into performance.

At Critical Manufacturing, we consistently hear that speed and agility are of paramount importance while resiliency, cost efficiency, and reliability are table stakes. We see MES selection requirements frequently disqualify monolithic enterprise systems, which force the users to adapt to their products with rigid out of the box functionality. Instead, companies favor flexible, modern systems that can adapt and connect easily with other systems to access upstream and downstream information. Also, consumer expectations for new and cool technology in their everyday lives means the next generation of manufacturing workers want the same experience in their workplace, engaging with modern interfaces and exciting new platforms.

Support for your Selection

Changing MES presents challenges, but this is the new reality. In this digital age, when most manufacturers are on the journey to Industry 4.0 and smart autonomous factories, we believe Gartner has produced a research report that looks to the MES of the future. It acknowledges the importance of the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and modern architectures, areas that have been a clear focus in the development of Critical Manufacturing MES.

The pace and complexity of change in the discrete segments is the driving force for modern MES systems that can simultaneously adapt and evolve with customer demand, the needs of the business and the needs of the contemporary workforce, so that they are always new and exciting.

Get the full report to see how Critical Manufacturing has been scored among 20 vendors in a new Gartner report: Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems, 2020.

Gartner, Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems, Rick Franzosa, 17 February 2020

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