Here is a wrap up of some sessions I attended at the MESA International North American 2013 Conference. Several people who had implemented an MES/MOM solution spoke to the lessons learned and benefits gained from the technology.

I’ll be posting some podcast interviews I recorded there shortly.

Mike Yost, MESA president, discussed how his first MES project several years ago yielded many benefits that were never documented, so they never received credit for them. He challenged members, suppliers and manufacturers alike, to harness all the information that justifies applications. They need to educate the market.

I was able to attend two sessions presented by manufacturers who had recently implemented an MES/MOM solution. The first used the Workflow application from Savigent as part of a continuous program specifically targeted at improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) numbers. The second implemented a solution from Rockwell Software also as part of a continuous improvement effort saying he was “pursuing previously hidden information” to aid the effort.

In the first application, the speaker noted that it’s not so much that what gets measured can get managed. Rather, the saying should be “what gets managed gets improved.” He had been looking for a platform to automate data collection. The company needed to reduce the need for additional capital while reducing costs and improving OEE. The company was able to track metrics and manage accountability. By gaining increased visibility into manufacturing processes, gap analysis could be employed to improve manufacturing metrics.

Manual data entry gave false OEE reads. Better data gave insight that led to scrap reduction of 6%. It then gave information that led to better decision making on machinery.

The second speaker, from a major automotive manufacturing company, spoke of using a holistic approach to pursuing previously hidden knowledge and value. Much of the project involved plant visualization. They made the line status and problems visual. The idea is that no problems are hidden.

When the project was begun, there were either no or only a legacy plant visualization system. This included a lack of data for problem identification. The program unlocked machine data providing visualization into the process. One of the most important things they discovered is to have a unified data model.

Environmental reporting improved greatly by having access to more information than ever before. Critical process checks were made reliably and automatically, where previously they had people wandering around checking instruments and writing the data. The plant moved five dispatchers to more critical areas thus saving money in the operation.

Both of these projects were IT projects made in cooperation with process engineering showing that it is possible for the two groups to collaborate.

Watch for the launch of The Manufacturing Connection coming soon. “Connecting things, data and people in a digital world promoting manufacturing excellence.”

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