Cloud-Based MES: The Effort to Empower Small Manufacturers | Automation.com

Cloud-Based MES: The Effort to Empower Small Manufacturers

Cloud-Based MES: The Effort to Empower Small Manufacturers

By Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com

In this day and age, it can sometimes seem like the small manufacturer is getting buried underneath the bigger entities in the industry. Yet, many of today’s advances in manufacturing technology, like the cloud-based MES (Manufacturing Execution System) are making it possible for small and medium size manufacturers to improve their operation, both in efficiency and profit.  In the case of MES, traditional on-site MES systems have been around for a while, and used extensively by larger companies, but the prices have always been high making it difficult for medium and small manufacturing companies to reap the same advantages as their larger competitors.  I had a discussion with Gelston Howell, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Srivats Ramaswami, CTO of 42Q, a provider of cloud MES solutions, to learn more about the value that cloud-based MES systems are delivering to small business.

42Q is a division of Sanmina Corporation, a top-five EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) provider of end-to-end contract manufacturing and design services, working with some of the world’s most innovative companies.  Given their years of experience providing services in contract electronics manufacturing, design and engineering, supply chain management services, new product introduction, logistics, and repair, Samina is well-versed in the needs of today’s industry.   That’s why, as Howell and Ramaswami explained, in the 1990s the company developed internal MES systems to be more efficient, profitable, and competitive.  They focused on leveraging a strong, experienced team, and constantly refining the software, based on their applications experience, in order to deliver a superior product.

Around 2000, the company realized that deployment in the cloud had the potential to provide flexibility, agility and further benefits for Sanmina factories, so they began migrating their MES to the cloud.  After migrating the company’s factories to the cloud application, Sanmina discovered that the system capabilities, flexibility, and value were impressing Sanmina customers. So much so, in fact, that several customers asked if they could have access to the deploy cloud MES solution.  This revelation led to Sanmina’s formation of a business unit, in order to offer cloud-based MES to the industry. Thus, in May 2016, 42Q was launched to meet this goal.   So far, 42Q’s cloud-based MES solution has been deployed in 50 factories, both for Sanmina and their customers.

42Q MES was first developed in-house and deployed worldwide creating high efficiency.

Yet, to this day industry analysts have noted that only 20% of customers, who might benefit from using MES, have deployed it.  Further, the analysts highlighted the problems faced by the smaller manufacturers. They believed that the complexity and expense of typical MES deployment presented a barrier to adoption by small and medium manufacturers. The immense effort, which included investing in and setting up servers, backend system interfaces, and ongoing software maintenance, may prove too much for those smaller companies.

Traditional on-premise systems require organizations to specify and purchase server hardware, install an operating system, load application software, and test to make sure everything went as planned, all while racking up the costs in both time and money.  42Q has moved to make MES accessible to the smaller manufacturer, by providing a comprehensive MES functionality as a cloud solution, ready to deploy immediately. As such, tracking, serialization, routing, work instructions, paperless travelers and more, can be configured and used by customers from the first day.

Therefore, this cloud-based solution opens up an opportunity for small and medium manufacturers to become more efficient, leveraging MES without a team of IT personnel and server hardware.  Key features of their offering includes:

  • Rapid Implementation: 6 weeks
  • On-demand Pricing: Scalable In Real Time
  • Reduce On-premise IT Support
  • No Software and Installation Costs
  • Rapid Implementation: 6 weeks
  • On-demand Pricing: Scalable In Real Time
  • Reduce On-premise IT Support
  • No Software and Installation Costs

The 42Q offering provides users with a term operational self-service, so companies can configure the system to meet their needs and production flows.  This also allows users to change and extend the system as required over time.

Using a standard web browser 42Q users configure application functions.

 

User configuration is with context sensitive templates.

They use edge computing devices to communicate from plant devices such as BAR code scanners that communicate through the on premise network and subsequently to the cloud application through a secure Gateway. 

Bill's Thoughts & Observations

This is another example of how technology is changing system architectures and enabling a wide range of users to achieve greater efficiency, profitability, and competitiveness. Hopefully, the efforts of companies like 42Q, will enable the smaller companies to not only survive, but thrive in an increasingly competitive yet consolidated automation industry.

Related Articles

MORE ARTICLES

VIEW ALL

RELATED