As we enter 2024, the landscape of manufacturing execution systems (MES) and manufacturing operations management (MOM) continues to evolve. Advancements in these technologies promise enhanced operational efficiency and the opening of new avenues for innovation in the manufacturing sector, particularly in the food and beverage, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical industries.

Following are my insights on three promising trends taking place with MES/MOM technologies that look at their potential benefits and the crucial role system integrators play in helping manufacturers harness these technologies.

Generative AI

  • The trend: Generative AI was the big hype of 2023 and will revolutionize MES and MOM by enabling systems to create and modify production processes autonomously. By leveraging algorithms to analyze historical data and generate predictive models to facilitate easier decision-making, generative AI will change the way operators interact with MES/MOM.
  • Benefits and impact: The integration of generative AI into MES and MOM will likely enhance predictive maintenance, optimize resource allocation, and improve product quality. But primarily, it will provide assistance to shop floor operators and managers in making decisions and running production processes, leveraging the experience contained in process and production data. For instance, in the pharmaceutical industry, where precision and compliance are paramount, generative AI can help operators run safer, more reliable manufacturing processes, reducing production anomalies and mitigating risks. This will be noticeably helpful in addressing the lack of experience among the workforce as older more experienced workers retire in greater numbers.

Digital twins and simulation

  • The trend: Digital twins and simulation are becoming increasingly vital to MES and MOM. These technologies allow companies to simulate, analyze and optimize their operations in a virtual environment before implementing changes in the real world.
  • Benefits and impact: The use of digital twins in manufacturing enables companies to reduce downtime, enhance product design and improve overall operational efficiency. For the food and beverage sector, this could mean more efficient use of ingredients and resources, minimizing waste and optimizing production lines for faster, more efficient output.

Integration of IoT and edge computing

  • The trend: The Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing are increasingly being integrated into MES and MOM. This combination of technologies allows for easier and cheaper real-time data collection and processing at the source (the “edge” of the network), leading to quicker, more efficient decision-making processes. A key component of this trend involves the deployment of sensors across brownfield site equipment, enabling the implementation of modern MES/MOM solutions even in plants with legacy automation systems.
  • Benefits and impact: IoT and edge computing offer real-time monitoring and control of manufacturing processes. In the consumer packaged goods industry, this can lead to improved inventory management, quicker response times to market changes, and enhanced product tracking through the supply chain to ensure high levels of quality control and customer satisfaction.

The role of system integrators

System integrators bridge the gap between technology potential and practical, efficient application in manufacturing environments. More specifically, they play a key role in:

  • Customization and implementation: Tailoring these advanced technologies to meet the specific needs of a manufacturing setup.
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrating new solutions with existing MES and MOM systems, ensuring interoperability and minimal disruption.
  • Training and support: Providing essential training and support to ensure that the workforce is equipped to utilize these new technologies effectively.

Integrating these technology trends with MES and MOM can represent a significant step forward for manufacturers. However, the key to success lies in choosing the right technology partners and system integrators who understand the unique challenges and opportunities of each specific company and can support the client in the digitalization journey, helping to achieve long-term goals step by step.

Originally published on Automation World – Feb, 2024

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