10 MES Features to Consider When Choosing a Manufacturing Software Solution
Selecting the right MES solution for your manufacturing plant is critical to giving you the data and insights needed to excel in the markets you compete in daily. To help you with your MES selection, we have put together an article on the most important MES features to consider when choosing a solution.
1. Matching cost to benefit
For some businesses, a new MES system cannot deliver the ROI that would be expected. If this is the case, it is better to find out before you start a major project. This is why it is so important to consider the ROI of a software system before you buy. Break down the cost and look at how you will use the software and what your intended return is.
At CI Precision, we don’t use assumed cost figures or generalised processes; our business case is based on your business processes and your costs. It provides a credible basis for examining whether there is justification for moving forward with an MES.
2. Finding a solution with quick ROI
The return on investment should be calculated based on a number of years, typically over the expected life of the new system. Implementation should be quick, including lean processes and short deployment, in order to see results fast.
We have learned that the most successful projects are those which are rolled out as distinct stages. An early success, which provides tangible benefits for individual staff, helps everyone to become engaged and positive about the change. Equally, by delivering ROI very quickly, the project team can justify the investment in appropriate project resources.
3. Price is not always a reflection of your benefit
Paying millions for an MES does not mean you’ll get more benefits or all the MES features you need. Determine if a high-cost software system will deliver an equally large benefit in a short amount of time. Otherwise, you may be stuck with an expensive system that never matches the promises of the company that sold it to you.
Because we start with a very good understanding of your requirements, we can estimate prices with a high degree of accuracy; CI Precision is known for quoting realistically and committing to it. We would only recommend committing to the project when it is agreed that the costs are reasonable and that there will be sufficient return on investment.
4. An expert in your industry
Domain expertise in your specific area of manufacturing is a must-have and speaking with other customers who are using their MES solution is important – make sure the unique, complex needs of your specific area of manufacturing will be met.
At CI Precision, our Ci-DMS consists of MES features that are developed solely for the healthcare manufacturing sector. We have low staff turnover, so our consultants and project teams are all knowledgeable and experienced.
5. Does the MES adhere to pharma validation standards?
MES vendors vary on how well they understand GAMP standards and FDA 21 CFR Part 11 requirements (and equivalent for the other regulators).
Ci-DMS is classified as GAMP category 4 – Configured Software and the product has been fully proven by many end-users over many years. Our software conforms to regulatory bodies’ rules and guidelines in terms of data integrity, including Electronic Signatures and Electronic Records (ERES). Ci-DMS can also be configured to conform to the FDA 21 CFR Part 11 requirements.
6. Can the software be configured to create recipes easily?
A common problem with recipe definition is the time it takes to convert existing documentation into a new format. This is especially critical if you have hundreds or even thousands of recipes to define.
Ci-DMS provides a number of features to speed up the definition process. These include the cut/paste and drag/drop of information from your existing system and the use of templates. You may also define standard manufacturing processes (e.g. material addition) that can be used by multiple recipes.
7. Does the MES have robust and comprehensive data management?
Look for a solution with MES features that cover a broad base of data management options that can provide data to analytics and BI applications in real time, enabling advanced reporting and predictive analytics.
MES Manager is the Ci-DMS administration module that enables you to configure your system, manage daily operations and analyse batch information. Senior managers, planners and validation personnel can use the reporting and analysis options to determine how to make financial and GMP improvements to their manufacturing processes.
8. Ease of integration
The MES solution must have proven integration and strategy for ease of integration to ERP and manufacturing hardware, with real-time communication. Cloud integration needs to be part of the MES vendors’ integration technology as well as a product interface that can be customisable based on your company’s requirements.
Ci-DMS is an open system and includes an ERP gateway — an off-the-shelf interfacing application that allows you to configure the interface to almost any ERP package. It also includes an interface toolbox specifically for integration to SAP ECC and S/4HANA.
9. Track and trace functionality
Value from track and trace is realised by taking this data and implementing process optimisation and limiting risk in critical situations. Ask to see demonstrations of track and traceability and process history to see how well a given MES application design fits with your company’s specific needs.
With Ci-DMS, the status of an in-process order or batch can be viewed at any time. All information that has been captured to date (including deviations) can be viewed and analysed. Actions such as altering a material lot or equipment status, material identification and numeric data entry can all be validated by applying approvals and electronic signatures.
10. An MES solution which is globally friendly
If you are planning to implement MES on a large scale globally, it is necessary to consider the support provided and in which time zones. What solutions are available to deal with bugs causing production downtime?
Healthcare customers around the world have relied on our systems for over 30 years, from single sites to big multinational operations. We deliver exceptionally high levels of customer satisfaction; almost everyone who has ever bought our product is still actively using it.
Does your solution have all the MES features you need?
Your MES forms the foundation of your manufacturing processes, so it is important to select a solution with the right MES features for you and your business. When shortlisting MES software providers, the prospective vendor should be able to clearly demonstrate examples of how their software addresses your most crucial issues. In our article, we discussed:
- Match Cost To Benefit – consider the ROI before you buy
- Timeline – implementation should be quick
- Price Is Not Reflection Of Benefit – don’t get stuck with a high-cost system
- Industry Expertise – speak to the experts in your industry
- Validation Standards – how well do they know the regulations
- Ease Of Configuration – critical if you have lots of recipes
- Data Management – broad base of data options is a must
- Ease Of ERP Integration – proven integration strategy is crucial
- Track And Trace – process optimisation and limiting risk
- Global Friendly – is support available worldwide?
We believe that these are some of the most critical features to consider when choosing your MES solution, so we hope it has given you a head start on what to think about during your selection process. If you would like to learn more about our Ci-DMS solution or arrange a consultation for an MES implementation project, please contact our expert team here.