Andrew Sparrow’s article Top 8 Trends Shaping the Future of MES caught my attention earlier this week. The article speaks about a broad spectrum of topics related to MES systems and technological transformation. I found it interesting. Read the article and draw your opinion. Cloud, IIoT, AI, Cybersecurity, Supply chain and other enterprise system integrations, data integration, transparency, and even blockchain.
My favorite part of the article is Integration with Supply Chain and Enterprise Systems. It obviously includes product lifecycle management (PLM) and how the data from product data management and PLM system is integrated into the manufacturing process, and production process. Here is the passage I found interesting.
MES plays a vital role in connecting various parts of the manufacturing ecosystem. Integrating MES with supply chain management systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and other business-critical applications enables end-to-end visibility, seamless data exchange, and streamlined operations.
The future of MES lies in strengthening these integrations, facilitating seamless information flow, and optimizing the entire value chain. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and supply chain management (SCM) are critical components of your successful manufacturing operation. By integrating MES with the supply chain, you can achieve end-to-end visibility, improved coordination, and optimized processes.
While the article speaks about “data” a lot, I didn’t find mentioning of the “Bill of Process”. And this is what I want to discuss today. Because, in my view, understanding of the transformative role of the Bill of Process (BOP) in the future of MES and integrated manufacturing systems and processes is extremely important.
In my article a few months ago, A BOM conflict between PLM, ERP, and MES, I shared my thoughts on how future integration between all these three systems will be focused on BOM orchestration. I prefer to speak about the Bill of Information (BOI), but it is pure semantics. Obviously Bill of Materials in a broad scope of understanding, includes a full set of data representing a product, design system, process control systems, and manufacturing execution system implementation.
Bill of Process (BOM) – a data foundation of MES
A bill of process (BOP) is a data structure that holds a planned production approach for any products you would like to build. It includes information about a product, and all machines, and equipment needed to make the product. It is a holistic structure that includes three main elements:
- All product information (as planned) for the product development process
- All equipment and machines that are needed for production processes.
- All work instructions explain how to make a product.
So, if we think about data lifecycle to describe product processes in the manufacturing execution system, it must bring all information that is already prepared in other systems and processes – Engineering information (usually EBOM), Procurement (purchasing) of all components and assemblies (usually planning or MBOM) and the full spectrum of machines and equipment. A great BOP helps to build a full structure of information describing the entire manufacturing and production process.
I like to think about information streams that consolidate computer-aided design (CAD) data, raw materials described in PLM systems and all purchased components and assemblies. Once this structure is ready it is time to get all manufacturing equipment described together with document management of the building (very relevant for large plants) connected with the information about production output and entire production process scheduling. In my view, this is a data foundation of the execution system.
3 BOP (Bill of Process) Challenges
I can see the following three challenges of successful BOP management that are present in all implementations these days.
- Isolated from other systems and people
- The complexity of data synchronization
- Data accuracy (although very much dependent on the first two, is very important)
The dependencies of BOP of different people are growing these days. The Bill of Process (BOP) is typically controlled by a number of parties within an organization, depending on the size and complexity of the manufacturing operations. Here are a few key roles involved:
Process Engineers: These are the people who design and optimize manufacturing processes. They have a deep understanding of the production steps and the parameters required for each step. They’re typically responsible for defining and updating the BOP.
Manufacturing or Production Managers: These individuals are responsible for ensuring that the manufacturing processes run smoothly, efficiently, and safely. They ensure that the production team follows the BOP and that any changes to the BOP are communicated to the relevant parties.
Quality Assurance/Control Managers: They are responsible for ensuring that the products meet the required quality standards. They often play a role in the development and control of the BOP to ensure quality is maintained at each step of the process.
IT and Systems Management: This group is responsible for implementing the BOP into the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or other relevant software systems. They ensure that the BOP is accurately represented in the system and that changes are implemented correctly.
Top Management: Depending on the organization’s size and nature, top management (like the Director of Manufacturing or Operations) might also be involved in overseeing the BOP.
With so many roles involved, BOP management is quickly becoming one of the most sophisticated to plan and manage.
What is my conclusion?
The digital manufacturing process is a complex system that requires a solid data management foundation. Without the ability to control the information flow between multiple systems and comprehensive data processing, MES will be disconnected from both internal product reality and external operations such as supply chain and, in the future maintenance systems as well. The last one will be a topic for a separate article. Meantime tell how you manage BOP currently and what methods you use to make BOP in synch with all other systems. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital thread platform including PDM/PLM and ERP capabilities that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.