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Why Manufacturing Execution (MES) Matters

17. July 2020 17:38

By: Joe Baggett, Innovative Wood Process Solutions

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He went on to explain what he meant by this apparent contradiction: 

“The details of a plan which was designed years in advance are often incorrect, but the planning process demands the thorough exploration of options and contingences. The knowledge gained during this probing is crucial to the selection of appropriate actions as future events unfold.”

This holds true in the manufacturing and fabrication of wood products and components. Manufacturing execution is the measurement of progress against a plan. The only plans that matter are those you actually do something about, and take seriously. The planning does matter but the execution and reaction to it matter even more. 

Years ago, while working for major casket manufacturer we designed a line of caskets that used reclaimed lumber called core panel. The new manufacturing lines and room were well designed to make the core panels in a continuous line rather than batch with as few hands touching it from machine to machine.

We quickly realized that our ERP, the centralized computer management system, while good at providing a schedule, was very limited in providing real time feedback and data on the hour by hour execution of that schedule. So, with some PLC technology and an old Allen Bradley program called Lab View we developed a manufacturing execution system where a schedule was downloaded for each shift, with an hourly goal by machine center, which provided email notifications of things such as attainment, yield rework, etc.

Joe Baggett addresses "Why Manufacturing Execution Matters" Oct. 26-30 in the on-demand conference program at the new virtual trade show, IWF Connect, 

It was clunky, clumsy and antiquated but for the time period and technology it worked. After launching it we received several awards, but during a management leadership meeting we learned that many of the frontline production leaders were not using the data now provided to them in real time. The focus at the time for management didn’t lend itself to reacting hour by hour.

These days Manufacturing Execution Systems can be implemented by companies specializing in this area. Now, when we do audits to assess how implementing an MES can bring value to a production operation, we usually find out that the information needed to make good decisions on an hourly basis isn’t available in the plant.

Many times, we find production leaders and engineers are consumed with trying to get the same data that MES software would provide automatically and on a timely basis. Even more problematic: they are limited in the more meaningful activity of using it, and reacting to it.
Getting started with manufacturing execution is the main point. Doing manufacturing execution well is one of the basic building blocks and part of the foundation of scalability. Reliable hourly output against a plan is something than can be scaled. And scalability is one of the most important things for manufacturers, in the new world in which we find ourselves.

Contact Joe Baggett to receive his White Paper on Management Execution Systems. Learn more and register for IWF Connect. 

 

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