Frost and Sullivan forecasts growth in MES market

04 May 2010

Rising competition among end users is driving growth in the European MES (Manufacturing Execution System) market, according to a recent report by Frost and Sullivan. The market analysis firm says end users from both process and discrete industries are going to invest in MES to boost productivity.

The research found that the market earned revenues of $1,209.4 million (€923.4 million) in 2009 and estimates this to reach $2,455.2 million in 2016. The markets covered in the research by end users are process industries that include pharmaceuticals and biotech, food and beverage, oil and gas, chemicals and petrochemicals, pulp and paper and metals and mining. Furthermore it encompassed discrete industries including automotive, aerospace and defence, semiconductor, electronics, consumer packaged goods and medical devices.

“With increasing competition among different end users, companies need to re-evaluate and enhance their product offerings to meet the ever-changing consumer demands, analyse strategic changes to accelerate their time to market and improve the profitability of new products,” said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Katarzyna Owczarczyk. Ensuring profitability and sustaining competitive advantage – this is a continuous process, which can only be achieved by gaining real-time information from business systems and the production line. Data collection in real time is an integral function of the MES implementation.

Hindrances to workflow, a technical error or a human error, resulting in unplanned downtime, negatively influences the balance sheets of companies. Therefore, operational excellence has become a key sustenance factor for companies that can be realised by the elimination of waste and acceleration of time to innovation, contributing to the efficient functioning of the organisation.

MES can help companies create distinctive manufacturing and supply chain capabilities that allow them to use their processes, as well as product and price, to gain a competitive edge. It can also help them sustain that edge by providing a feedback loop that enables them to sense and respond to business changes. The shift to MES is gaining momentum, making it a competitive necessity.

However, one of the key challenges that the manufacturers face is the requirement to provide solutions that could facilitate seamless interfacing. Major end users, especially within the discrete industries, have homegrown systems with minimum MES capabilities that are developed and maintained by in-house IT staff. When manufacturers build plants at different locations, replication of these homegrown MES becomes a challenge. Although they may be functioning within a particular location, they do not comply with specific standards, making it futile to duplicate them on a global platform. Moreover, their seamless integration into newer software and automation systems is often difficult. A change in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) or any other system completely alters the interface of these homegrown systems, resulting in higher integration and maintenance costs.

“Most of the legacy software solutions are unable to function in large and complex manufacturing environments involving higher throughput, quality and efficiency,” explains Owczarczyk. “Moreover, MES are expected to have an interface to integrate with the legacy systems.”

Greater standardisation initiatives from the manufacturing execution systems association (MESA), instrumentation, systems and automation society (ISA) and others groups are happening with an aim to discuss MES capability and functionality in order to remove diversity from the MES space. Additionally, many MES vendors have started implementing modern technology in their products. Production processes information from MES is available on the intranet and Internet.

“The MES market has a tendency towards limiting the number of platforms and database systems,” concludes Owczarczyk. “This enables better integration between MES and the existing systems and automation products.”

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