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5 Ideas on how to make MES implementation cheaper

The implementation of an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) can be challenging from a technical, procedural, and logistical point of view. These computerized systems are often used to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods in manufacturing. However, their use is often influenced by economics and the desire to make a Manufacturing Execution System implementation as cheap as possible. That said, the ROI on investment typically speaks for itself and offers countless opportunities for customization. How can implementation costs be effectively reduced while maintaining the quality of the overall process? MES – Manufacturing Execution System – plays a special role in this regard and is now a must at an operational level. It is a space that requires particular attention of MES analysts in terms of costs incurred. An equally thorough and precise evaluation of all pre-implementation steps – which are a natural spectrum of customer focus – as well as those already underway after the process is essential. This is because the effective implementation of this process must be approached comprehensively and with a broader time horizon in mind. Here are five ways and tips to effectively reduce the cost of MES implementation.

1. Focus on Business Goals and ROI

If you want to improve the performance of your business, you can choose a solution like MES. Any successful implementation of this system requires clear and transparent project management. MES will help you gather goals from different departments of your business like Production, Maintenance, Quality control, Planning, Logistics, etc. After they are collected, you can then define existing challenges. To further focus on the most burning matters, you can use the methodologies such as the Pareto principle, which argues that around 80% of consequences come from roughly 20% of causes. Once you have defined the problems to be solved, remember that the cheapest solutions do not always have the best ROI. Also, remember to base your budget on 12-36 months of ROI by eliminating top business pains. Other factors you may want to consider are OEE, reducing reporting time, and improving OTIF. By focusing on your business goals and ROI, you will avoid the disappointment of not achieving your targets.

2. Precise implementation plan

Any changes in business are usually expensive and time-consuming. The best approach is to implement proven solutions available in the market right from the start. ANT solutions, which are implemented in top manufacturing companies in various industries, ensure a quick and agile start within a few weeks. Start your efforts by selecting the most important customizations necessary to meet your business goals. Implement the selected customizations at the end of the project. Try to narrow them down initially – doing detailed analysis and clarifying the scope of the UI/UX project will help. Try to model the production process in a standard ANT system. You will be facilitated by out-of-the-box solutions to get ROI as fast as possible and implement the customization in an agile way. The process must conclude with the integration of the MES software with other production control and production reporting systems. Remember – if you do too many customizations it will be more expensive not only for implementation but as well for support.

3. Choose an experienced vendor and verified solution

When looking for the best solution that will positively impact your business, choose a vendor that has a proven track record in your or similar manufacturing. Let one vendor take full responsibility for the project – infrastructure build, hardware delivery, hosting services, machine connectivity, standard software delivery, customizations, training, 24/7 support, future development. When deciding on more than one vendor, you run the risk of companies accusing each other if problems arise in the solution. It will then be complicated and time-consuming to solve the problem. You must consider the possibility that a service provider whose actions are not documented may cease operations. If you have facilities in other countries, it is a good idea to consider whether the vendor can roll out the system to other factories. ANT is a respected part of the German BBS Automation group, which has been in the market for many years, so by choosing ANT solutions you can be sure that you are partnering with an established company. An effective strategy to make sure that the vendor you are considering is right for your business is to ask for references or reference visits. Besides, ask for a live demo of the solution. Also, read the specifications and documentation of the system. If their solutions are not right for you, take a look at another vendor’s proposal. If you can’t decide between multiple vendors, ask them about Proof of Concept for 1 or 2 machines.

4. Build your roadmap, fix the price and requirements

To make MES implementation cheaper, you can build a roadmap. It is advisable to split the implementation into phases. Starting with small steps and setting milestones is a good initial strategy. At the beginning of your relationship with the vendor, discuss and write down the features you will be receiving to better define your goals. To avoid disappointment, including financial let-downs, be sure to review the offer carefully. Ask about licensing, what is included in implementation, installation, training, handover, maintenance, etc. Require professional project management, documentation, and change management support. Try to fix the price from the very beginning of the cooperation. Without a clear vision and a set budget for the future, you may face disappointments.

5. Go modern in MES implementation

Cloud-based architecture, as a modern solution, is cheaper in CAPEX, but unfortunately, not all companies can use it. If you find yourself in a situation where the cloud-based solution – although it is recommended – is not allowed, you might choose a locally hosted solution with the possibility to migrate it to the cloud in the future. Once you’ve decided on the right solution, you need to consider how to ensure your company has adequate industrial cybersecurity. Separate machine networks from the business network. By choosing to remain with less modern solutions, you may create room for possible problems to arise. Those may affect company departments and even your expansion to other production sites.  

Additional features you should implement at first

We recommend implementing automated data gathering from machines where it is possible, such as PLC connection or sensor installation. Thanks to this, you receive real-time KPI. In addition, you can implement an operator panel. This will increase production transparency, also showing KPIs and targets. To avoid double reporting, you should apply an ERP interface. Another feature to be implemented that can help keep costs down is OEE calculation and analysis. By implementing our solutions you will get quick access to aggregated and detailed data, maintenance KPIs measuring, digital documentation, and defect handling. By ensuring the right activities for maintenance, you will make sure the process is running as it should.  

Prepare well and choose the best solution

Getting the payoff from the MES system is much easier if you be well-prepared to choose the best solution, such as ANT’s. Step by step implementation with an experienced vendor can bring very fast ROI – even in less than 12 months. You will get the best results only with an experienced vendor. Contact ANT to get the proposal for MES implementation in less than a week!

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Łukasz Iskra

Industrial Software Expert


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