Embracing the Cloud and Hybrid Solutions for MES/MOM

As I often say “you can fight technology, but you will lose”. The same has to be said with the inevitability of MES/MOM moving to the Cloud. It’s not if, but when.

In the world of complex manufacturing, the question of whether to embrace cloud technologies for operational data has long been a subject of debate.

While businesses have readily adopted cloud solutions for their enterprise data, concerns about the security and reliability of the cloud have led manufacturers to question the wisdom of migrating their operational data.

However now, as cloud solutions have become increasingly secure, cost-effective, and scalable, manufacturers are confronted with a new question:

Can they afford to ignore the transformative power of the cloud when it comes to their Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM)?

I feel the time is now to really explore the significant benefits of moving MES/MOM to the cloud and introduce an evolutionary approach through the concept of a hybrid on-premise/cloud system for manufacturing.

The Cloud Advantage: Benefits of Moving MES/MOM

The Cloud Advantage: Benefits of Moving MES/MOM

Before diving into the advantages of a hybrid approach, it’s essential to understand the remarkable benefits that migrating MES/MOM systems to the cloud can bring to manufacturing companies.

Scalability and Cost Efficiency

One of the primary benefits of moving MES/MOM to the cloud is scalability. Cloud-based solutions allow you to easily scale your operations up or down as needed. This flexibility is especially valuable in manufacturing, where production volumes can vary significantly.

Traditional on-premise systems often require costly hardware upgrades to accommodate increased data and operational demands, while cloud solutions offer a more cost-effective and efficient approach.

Cloud-based MES/MOM solutions eliminate the need for extensive on-premise infrastructure, reducing the hardware footprint and the associated costs.

You can avoid the expenses related to maintaining on-site servers, including the costs of IT staff and downtime incurred during software upgrades.

By moving to the cloud, you can reallocate resources to focus on core operations and innovation, resulting in cost savings and improved efficiency.

Accessibility and Collaboration

Cloud-based MES/MOM systems provide real-time accessibility to critical manufacturing data from virtually anywhere.

This accessibility is essential for today’s global manufacturing landscape, where teams may be dispersed across multiple locations or even different continents. With cloud solutions, your authorized personnel can access essential data, monitor operations, and make informed decisions remotely, promoting collaboration and agility.

You can seamlessly connect their various facilities, share data, and optimize processes across the entire organization. This enables improved communication, faster decision-making, and more agile responses to changes in production requirements or market conditions.

Data Security and Redundancy

Modern cloud providers prioritize data security and invest heavily in state-of-the-art security measures, ensuring the protection of critical manufacturing data.

Cloud-based MES/MOM systems often feature robust security protocols, data encryption, and regular backups. This level of security is typically challenging to achieve with on-premise solutions, where security measures may vary and could be less stringent.

In addition to enhanced security, cloud solutions provide data redundancy. Data is stored in multiple geographically dispersed data centers, reducing the risk of data loss due to hardware failures or other unforeseen events. This redundancy is particularly crucial for ensuring the availability of vital manufacturing data.

Reduced IT Overhead

Maintaining on-premise MES/MOM systems can be resource-intensive. It requires a dedicated IT team to manage and maintain the infrastructure, perform updates, and troubleshoot issues. This can lead to significant ongoing costs.

In contrast, cloud-based solutions alleviate much of this IT overhead.

With cloud systems, software updates and maintenance tasks are managed by your cloud provider, reducing the workload for internal IT staff. This allows manufacturers to allocate their IT resources more strategically, focusing on higher-value tasks and innovation rather than routine maintenance.

Introducing the Hybrid MES/MOM System

Introducing the Hybrid MES/MOM System

While the advantages of moving MES/MOM to the cloud are clear, there are still elements of manufacturing that demand real-time control and on-premise presence.

This is where the concept of a hybrid on-premise/cloud system for manufacturing comes into play.

A hybrid MES/MOM system combines the best of both worlds by keeping essential real-time functionality on-site while utilizing the cloud for non-mission-critical components. This approach offers several distinct benefits:

Enhanced Operational Efficiency

A hybrid MES/MOM system leverages the power of the cloud to supercharge analytics capabilities. By integrating your data from various sources into a cloud-based repository, it creates an enriched and contextualized dataset that can be used for reporting and advanced analytics.

This contextualization helps uncover hidden opportunities for operational improvements that may not be apparent through manual analysis.

For example, data-driven predictive maintenance can save manufacturers up to:

  • 12% of scheduled repair costs,
  • reduce overall maintenance expenses by up to 30%, and
  • decrease equipment breakdowns by as much as 70%.

A hybrid system allows you to harness these advanced analytics to improve operational efficiency, gain a competitive edge, and make data-driven decisions that drive continuous improvement.

Agility and Faster Operations

Storing operational data in the cloud instead of on-site can significantly boost your daily operations.

Operators no longer face the challenges of managing large volumes of on-premise data, allowing them to focus on their primary tasks and increasing overall productivity.

In some cases, manufacturers have reported an impressive 85% increase in productivity when transitioning from on-premise data storage to cloud-based solutions, resulting in faster and more efficient factory operations.

Furthermore, MES upgrades become more expedient in a cloud environment. Technologies such as containerization, like Docker, allow for quicker and less disruptive updates.

This means reduced downtime and a faster return on investment whenever new features or functionalities become available, contributing to the overall agility of manufacturing operations.

Enhanced Decision-Making at Every Level

Manufacturing operations involve a diverse set of roles, each with unique data requirements. Creating a hybrid MES/MOM system opens new avenues for combining and viewing data across multiple plants, facilitating remote data access, and enabling cross-level decision-making. For instance:

  • Supervisors need real-time information to optimize product flow, machine and operator efficiency, and manage safety incidents.
  • Supply chain managers aim to optimize revenue targets, achieve year-to-year growth, and reduce costs.
  • Operations managers focus on increasing monthly and quarterly manufacturing efficiency while eliminating non-value-added steps in the production process.

A hybrid system ensures that each team has access to the information they need to make informed decisions quickly.

Cost Reduction

Beyond the various benefits of moving to the cloud, cost reduction remains a compelling reason to embrace the hybrid MES/MOM system.

Many manufacturers are required to store operational data for compliance purposes, which can lead to substantial on-site server costs. By moving a subset of your operational technology (OT) information to the cloud, you can reduce the need for on-premise server storage, resulting in cost savings.

The hybrid approach offers a straightforward business case, with a rapid return on investment for many.

By minimizing on-premise server costs and taking advantage of the cost-efficient cloud storage, you can allocate resources more efficiently and invest in initiatives that drive growth and innovation.

MOM – What Goes Where

MOM – What Goes Where

Now, let’s delve into the details of which specific Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) functionalities should be hosted in the cloud and which are best suited for on-premise deployment, along with the reasons behind these decisions.

1. Production Planning & Scheduling: Cloud

Why:Production planning and scheduling benefits from cloud deployment due to the real-time collaboration and accessibility it offers.

With cloud-based systems, multiple teams across different locations can simultaneously access production plans, make adjustments, and ensure optimal resource allocation.

This flexibility and real-time access are crucial to adapt to ever-changing market conditions and shifting demand.

2. Manufacturing & Production: On-Premise

Why:Manufacturing and production processes often require immediate decision-making and control.

Real-time monitoring, equipment management, and quality assurance demand on-site presence for swift action.

Maintaining these critical functions on-premise ensures immediate responsiveness, quality control, and operational stability.

3. Quality Control & Assurance: On-Premise

Why:Quality control and assurance processes are mission-critical and necessitate real-time monitoring.

Immediate action is required to maintain product quality and safety standards.

On-premise deployment ensures the capability to respond promptly to quality issues and deviations, preventing defects and ensuring product quality.

4. Maintenance & Equipment Management: Cloud

Why:Cloud-based maintenance and equipment management systems are beneficial for managing maintenance schedules, historical records, and predictive maintenance analytics.

Cloud solutions offer centralized access to this data, improving overall efficiency.

Storing this information in the cloud enables better predictive maintenance and minimizes equipment downtime.

5. Inventory Management: Cloud

Why:Inventory management is optimized in the cloud.

Cloud solutions offer real-time visibility into inventory levels, demand forecasting, and supply chain optimization.

The ability to collaborate with different stakeholders, including suppliers and customers, makes cloud-based inventory management a strategic choice for improved efficiency.

6. HR & Workforce Management: Cloud

Why:HR and workforce management systems benefit from cloud deployment by providing remote access and efficient management of HR records, workforce scheduling, and employee data.

Cloud solutions facilitate remote working arrangements, manage shifts, and ensure compliance with labor regulations while reducing administrative burdens on HR staff.

7. Health & Safety Compliance: On-Premise

Why: Health and safety compliance requires immediate, real-time monitoring and incident response.

These functions should remain on-premise to ensure the safety of personnel and compliance with regulations. Swift responses to safety incidents and accidents are critical for maintaining a safe working environment.

8. Environmental Certification & Sustainability: Cloud

Why:Managing environmental certification and sustainability data benefits from cloud-based systems.

Cloud solutions provide a centralized platform for tracking environmental metrics, sustainability goals, and compliance with environmental regulations.

Cloud deployment enables efficient management, reporting, and analysis of environmental and sustainability data.

9. Data Analysis and Reporting: Cloud

Why:Data analysis and reporting, including historical data processing and advanced analytics, are well-suited for the cloud.

Cloud solutions offer the computational power and storage capacity required for processing vast amounts of data efficiently.

Data analysis in the cloud provides valuable insights, identifies trends, and supports data-driven decision-making.

10. Regulatory Compliance & Quality Standards: On-Premise

Why:Real-time monitoring of regulatory compliance and quality standards is essential for immediate adherence to industry regulations.

These functions should remain on-premise to ensure prompt response to compliance requirements and quality deviations, facilitating compliance with regulatory standards during inspections and audits.

In conclusion, a thoughtful hybrid approach to MOM functionalities, balancing cloud and on-premise deployment, is key to optimizing manufacturing operations.

By strategically placing functions where they are most effective, you can achieve a harmonious blend of real-time control and cloud-enabled efficiency. This strategic balance ensures that manufacturers are well-equipped to thrive in an ever-evolving and data-driven manufacturing landscape.