Batch Management / Optimization

Aberdeen and MESA explain it all


Sep 08, 2006

IN A REPORT titled, "Global Manufacturing: MES and Beyond, Benchmark Report," Aberdeen Group's Jane Biddle has an interesting take on a number that’s been noted for years. At the ARC Forum earlier in 2006, it was noted that only about 18% of North American manufacturing concerns are doing any sort of real-time performance management, despite more than two decades of preaching by suppliers and consultants.

The Aberdeen report flips the meaning of this number, explaining that this roughly 20% of manufacturing companies are really what Aberdeen calls the "Best in Class—(20%) practices that are the best currently being employed and significantly superior to the industry norm." Biddle reports that 85% of these best-in-class companies, "already have a strategy in place to unify processes and systems across locations. Their top action for realizing this strategy is business process improvement through standardization."

The problem, for automation professionals at those enterprises, is that "many companies have a hodgepodge of systems and technologies in their plants, which are costly to maintain and difficult to modify. This problem is compounded with the addition of each new facility (not uncommon to have dozens of systems) to the enterprise."

Aberdeen reports that most enterprises (52%) report a significant gap between ERP and the factory floor (See Figure below), while an even more significant 27% report "lack of funds and/or lack of perceived value."

INTERNAL CHALLENGES (All Performance Categories)
Internal Challenges

Aberdeen's report describes a "laggard" class of companies as those (30%) with "practices that are significantly behind the average of the industry." The report makes recommendations for the laggards:

  • Gain visibility and control over production
  • Close the information gap between manufacturing and the enterprise
  • Empower customer-focused teams to drive improvements.

For enterprises that are the industry norm, Aberdeen's report makes these recommendations:

  • Set global manufacturing standards
  • Create strategic alliance between manufacturing and corporate IT
  • Create value-focused metrics programs

And for the best in class firms, the report suggests:

  • Deliver manufacturing intelligence to the boardroom
  • Continuously improve manufacturing to maintain operational excellence
  • Leverage technology to fuel ongoing innovation

The full report is available from Aberdeen Group at