Impact of MES class on software price
The class of an MES system is determined by the following 3 areas: data acquisition, integrations and modules (functionalities). The final MES price depends on their complexity.
- Data acquisition – which signals will be gathered from the machines and how? How will they be used for traceability, reporting and quality control of processes?
- Integrations – will there be a possibility of two-way data exchange with ERP, APS, WMS, CMMS and other systems, and how advanced will it be?
- Modules – what functions will help with performance monitoring and production reporting? Here are some modules from ANT Solutions that support manufacturing processes:
- Machine Connectivity – provides continuous connectivity of machines and the acquisition of data from them through connection to PLCs, duplication of automation signals or the installation of appropriate sensors.
- Production Execution – the functionality allows for real-time monitoring of the progress of the execution of production orders along with the status of machines.
- Defect Handling – collects data such as the number and type of defects.
- OEE Analysis – the module is used to calculate and analyses the OEE coefficient and its components. It is based on historical and current data, drawing a trend line.
- Digital Documentation – all the instructions and messages are displayed to operators on touch panels, and the documentation is collected and stored without the need to collect piles of paper files.
- Dashboards & Reports – are responsible for generating clear reports based on real data in real time.
- Maintenance ANDON – sends instant notifications of failures and supports their handling.
- Traceability – collects data on materials, process parameters, machine settings and operators.
- Reworks Management – allows you to manage reworks. It supports the operator in deciding on which machine a given part should be reworked.
- Quality Inspections – sends out an automatic request to examine the quality of the product and notifies operators whether a given measurement is within the quality limits. It generates a parameter histogram and SPC report.
- Microstops Monitoring – automatically reports any stoppage of a production line component and provides the relevant reason. It “blames” the machine in the production line that is responsible for a particular downtime.
As you can see, there are a number of advanced modules that affect the final MES price.
Where to look for savings?
The rates of IT specialists are among the highest in the market. There is a reason why many are convinced that it is better to hire one experienced programmer than ten mediocre ones. The experience and skills of such a person can add a lot to a project, making the final product an investment that will give a quick return.
If your software expenditure is out of budget, you may want to divide your system implementation into phases. Maybe the same modules are not necessary at the very beginning of the implementation. The implementation of special functions (customization) can be time-consuming and costly because of the specialists who implement the solutions. Selecting the most relevant modules in the first phase and postponing customization will reduce the initial implementation costs.
This approach is also important because it allows you to quickly test the software and check whether it is definitely working as expected. Contrary to appearances, a simple system may better meet the needs of customers – a quick introduction of the basic features allows the project to evolve and see the effects of operation of the system on the shop floor in practice. The multitude of functionalities requires additional integrations, which prolongs the software implementation process.
MES price – be careful not to overpay!
The MES price does not only take the capabilities of the software, but also the entire path from the idea to the completion of the project into account. Pay attention to the following aspects when choosing a vendor:
- software implementation,
- start-up and documentation,
- machine integration,
- hardware delivery and installation,
- maintenance support.
The budget should also cover all the aforementioned ancillary issues. So be careful not to overpay! For example, it may turn out that the provider offers dedicated software created specifically for your needs, but which will require a much larger financial investment if you need to expand the system. By contrast, a cloud-based solution is less expensive to implement (CAPEX) and the cost can be passed on to operational expenses (OPEX). An MES based on SaaS cloud service is additionally more flexible and easier to scale to other machines and facilities.
Another problem may be an inexperienced supplier offering a dedicated solution that will take longer to implement than a standard project because the supplier will be learning how the system should work during the implementation. Time and ease of mastering the system also make a big difference.
It is also worth paying attention to the way of sourcing data. If the production line is equipped with different equipment, it may be that only some machines are equipped with PLCs from which the relevant signals can be collected, while older models need to be fitted with sensors. It is possible to collect data in both cases, but sometimes it is more cost-effective to standardize the method, for example by installing identical sensors on all the machines. If different connections are chosen, it may turn out that the remaining expenditure allocated to the system is already out of budget.
When is an MES worth its price?
MES implementation in a production plant is just the beginning of the cooperation. Therefore, it is worth choosing a comprehensive offer from a single vendor, who will take full responsibility for the project – building the infrastructure, supplying the equipment, hosting services, ensuring connectivity to the machines, providing standard software and additional functionalities, training, full 24/7 support, and possible future expansion of the system. Such an investment guarantees that the money spent will not only pay off in the short term but will also form the basis for further development of the plant.
Modern information technologies – they are worth it!
Budgeting for a manufacturing execution system should take into account factors such as: business objectives, module sophistication, integrations, personalization and dividing the implementation into phases with the possibility of further expansion. MES is an investment for years, so it is worth choosing an experienced and flexible supplier who will guide the plant through the implementation process and support the customer in further stages of operation.
We provide a suite of “best-of-breed” solutions, and our industrial software is used by top companies in the manufacturing industry. Contact ANT and you will receive an MES implementation offer in less than a week!