MES implementations that actually work

Yes, there are some. Sadly, they are still few and far between. There are good signs though. At last week's ARC conference on interoperability SAP was the 5000 pound gorilla. The SAP folks were all over, announcing that they had standardized on WBF's B2MML and S88 and S95 for the language of plant to enterprise interoperability. It is about time, frankly. SAP and its competitors, Baan, JDE, PeopleSoft, Oracle and Partners, have always ignored the plant space because they work with IT and Finance and upper management. Now SAP says they can work down to the level of small enterprises. According to some SAP executives I interviewed at National Manufacturing Week, a "small" enterprise to them is one with revenues of $100 million per year. Now, this is interesting, because in process automation, there are even very few VENDORS whose revenues fit that category. So we have two colliding movements here. On one hand, we have the monolithic ERP vendors like SAP and Oracle (the Survivor, right?) moving down the value chain to where stuff actually gets made, and where their people might actually get dirty. On the other hand, we have the plant floor IT people working with bright software designers like those from Iconics and Citect, and with people like Honeywell and ABB, whose software and hardware follow the low overhead, extreme distributed control model. And they use OPC and industrial ethernet to move data from the plant environment to the enterprise IT environment. It will be interesting to see who wins. Walt