So much has bee written and discussed about ROI for MES. I got involved in the latest discussion on a LinkedIn group. I guess that this question is one of the great phenomena of the MES domain. Unlike other types of systems (ERP, QMS, PLM, etc.) the returns and direct benefits hardly provide enough to justify the investment. To complicate matters even more the actual reasons for employing MES differ not only by industry but also by customer. Para-phrasing Paul Boris from the LinkedIn discussion “it is like explaining to your kids why they should eat their veggies”.
It is no wonder that MES solutions are typically the last ones to be implemented in the typical manufacturing solution landscape. It is simply too hard to provide a clear and concise return or benefit from an MES alone or at least to justify the investment – and MESs do not come cheap. On the other hand it is obviously much easier when there is a specific and typically catastrophic event that needs to be remedied, such as a recall, 483 (FDA warning letter), regulatory compliance, detrimental quality issues, etc.
MES need to be thought of as enablers for operational excellence where the ROI and benefit come from the “Whole” solution and not the system. For example more efficient process, better quality, effective material management, etc. The ROI and/or benefits have to then be attributed to The Whole Solution – focus on the solution rather than the System (i.e. MES).