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What do MES users really want?

Over the last 12 months or so ARC interviewed customers/users of the leading manufacturing operations management/manufacturing execution system (MOM/MES) suppliers to get a sense of their plans, issues, and concerns.

The users were drawn from a broad set of micro-verticals among the continuous process, hybrid/batch, and discrete manufacturing sectors.

Many (most) of those interviewed were reference customers for their respective suppliers, so ARC anticipated generally positive comments. To encourage them to speak freely, researchers conducted the interviews on the basis of anonymity.

Most of the users had a generally favourable view, and reasonably good relationship, with their suppliers. But, they were also quick to share their pet peeves, or in some cases growing frustrations.

No supplier fared substantially better or worse in this respect. The users were – by and large – content. But, some common wishes and concerns did emerge; this group clearly had some things that they would like to see done better.

The biggest area of discontent was implementation time. ARC recognises that many variables and factors contribute to this, and a "deep dive" here was outside the scope of this research.

But the takeaway was clear – users want to be able to implement their systems faster.

In cases where multiple plants are involved, awareness of the importance of rapid implementation tends to arise early.

The implementation team then develops a plan to minimise the efforts at individual plants. In practice, this should favour suppliers who can demonstrate that their solution has the tools and processes to facilitate rapid multi-plant implementations.

In smaller projects, the temptation to customise things can derail plans, increase costs, and decrease satisfaction. There is some reason to think that the industry is getting better at avoiding this trap, but there is still a way to go.

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