Manufacturing Execution Systems/Manufacturing Operations Management Remain a Key Enabler for Digital Transformation Initiatives

Author photo: Janice Abel
ByJanice Abel
Technology Trends

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) is a key enabler for digital transformation initiatives and IT/OT integration. The scope and capabilities performed by traditional MES has expanded.  As such, the terminology used to describe MES has also evolved.  “Next Generation” MES solutions are often referred to as MOM/Production Management.  MES/MOM solutions are also referred to as Smart Manufacturing by experts involved in developing “smart factories.” Many experts often note differences in functionalities between traditional MES offerings and MOM/Production Management solutions, but ARC’s MES research does not distinguish between the two. 

In ARC’s mind the scope of MES applications has expanded over the years to include many of the “next Manufacturing Execution Systemsgeneration” digital transformation technologies being used as buzz words in the press today.  Regardless of the label used to describe it, MES/MOM applications remain a key enabler for any successful IT-OT convergence.  This truth has not gone unnoticed by manufacturing companies, as highlighted by a recent survey ARC conducted amongst end user clients regarding the role different technologies play in the digital transformation.    In fact, eight out of ten respondents expect MES to Play a Significant Role in the Digital Transformation

One of the common takeaways from ARC’s discussions with MES vendors and adopters is a push towards expanding the scope of traditional MES solutions to include newer digital technologies such as cloud, edge, internet of things, robotics, advanced analytics, AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, simulation, digital twins, etc.  Even additive manufacturing software is considered a subset of MES today by many vendors and adopters.  Newer MES solutions often include the operational data platform upon which the traditional MES applications run.  ARC has also witnessed a trend towards the seamless integration of MES solutions with critical control and business systems such as DCS, SCADA, PLM, and ERP. 

The data generated by MES is an important part of the digital thread integrating the holistic production lifecycle.  In ARC’s research, MES/MOM/Production Management can be broken down into three main applications for manufacturing that includes:

1. Direct & Operate (work order management, electronic work instructions, asset management, simulation, energy, quality management, and material management, etc.)

2. Inform & Visibility (manufacturing intelligence, KPIs, OEE, reporting, track and trace, data integration & contextualization, energy, quality, material and inventory tracking, inventory status, etc.)

3.  Planning & Scheduling (workflow planning, BOM management, equipment management, scheduling).

ARC Advisory Group has been tracking this market for over two decades and continues to see the market grow and change.  And it is important that manufactures understand the functionality and capabilities of the different MES solutions available on the market today, which is available in ARC’s MES supplier selection research report, before making a choice of technology.

According to ARC’s research, the market for MES/MOM/Production Management will remain a critical element for manufacturers as they continue through their digital transformation initiatives . For additional information on this topic, please refer to ARC’s latest MES/MOM/Production Management/Smart Manufacturing research.


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