Live from WBF 2008-- IT or Engineering? Who Should Support MES?

Next came Control contributor Bianca Sholten, of Ordina Technical Automation.  Bianca Scholten is a Fellow of Ordina Technical Automation an IT company, with > 5000 employees; Author of “The Road to Integration; A Guide to Applying the ISA-95 Standard in Manufacturing” Co-author of “The hitchhiker’s guide to Manufacturing; and a Voting member of SP95... It is clear who owns Level 0,1 and 2 of the Purdue Model-- the process control engineers. It is clear who owns Level 4-- the IT/ERP department. But nobody really owns that part of the model known as MES-- Level 3 in the model. Most here believe that MES should be supported by Engineering, not IT. Some believe that it should be a joint responsibility. Looking at typical systems, you see lots of them are provided by control systems vendors who have expanded into the MES space. I did a very small survey, with 15 responses from multinational food, pharma and specialty chem companies. "Are you working in...?" Not quite half worked in Level 3 IT. 25% worked in Engineering, about 25% worked in Level 4 IT, and one said they worked in Production. Much more than half of respondents differentiated between Level 3 and Level 4 IT. "Is MES in your company supported by...?" About 40% said IT, about 25% said Engineering, but a very large number said "both". "How long has your company known about MES...?" About 25% said over 20 years ago; and the remainder was divided pretty equally between 10-20 years ago and 10 or fewer years. "How closely are IT and Engineering working in your company...?" The gap is getting smaller, but the gap is still huge between departments, although about 25% said "hardly ever." "On a project basis" was nearly half of respondents. Some said, "on a daily basis," while a smaller number said "varies per division." The skills gap is getting closer. IT is beginning to understand the requirements of infrastructure and controls better, and they are getting more familiar with LIMS, WMS, MES and standardization. IT tends to have a global view, while engineering tends to have a local view. So the best answer is "Both."