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The State of the MES Market. Goodbye, Old Friends.

By Rick Franzosa | October 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

MOMMESIoTInternet of ThingsIndustrial Internet of ThingsIIoTDigital ManufacturingBusiness Value

The 2018-2019 Gartner/MESA International ‘Business Value of MES’ Survey published on October 18.  The 2019 Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems will publish (tentatively) tomorrow, October 29.  This blog presents some thoughts on the underlying research for these two October ‘bookends’.

About the survey

The survey results show that companies continue to adopt MES, and continue to see significant benefit.  Manufacturers are deluged with an array of new technology choices, however, MES should not be overlooked as a core systems investment. This research helps manufacturing operations leaders to select, implement and/or upgrade their organizations’ MES applications.

The good news

About a third of manufacturers surveyed are seeing benefits in key areas like quality, data visibility and compliance in as little as three months.  Two-thirds of manufacturers surveyed see benefit in at least 12 months.

The bad news

Sometimes those benefits are not viewed as enough to build momentum for multi-site deployment.  Manufacturers need to focus on quick wins (obviously), the research details the handful of MES critical capabilities that lead to quick success (which helps in gaining additional investment).

The bottom line

MES provides significant value, but manufacturers are concerned about total cost of ownership.  They are also, frankly, concerned about whether or not the systems are ‘future proof’.  Manufacturers are intrigued and impressed by the promise of the industrial internet of things (IIoT).  They are also learning that IIoT alone does not provide the full capability of MES.  Manufacturers are looking for disruptors in the MES space.  However, the leading disruptor in the space is succeeding primarily because of an innovative pricing model.   So, while MES is still the a key element of digital manufacturing, the definition of future MES is a work in progress and it is not clear who the winners and losers will be.

What we are learning from the MQ research

This month will mark the third go-round for the Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems.  The forty+ vendors surveyed for this effort have provided great insight into the future of this still relevant technology.  For those that are too busy to read through the entire 39 page document, I have provided a handy (tongue-in-cheek) MQ guide here and below.


Here is what’s new in the MES world:

Bigger application suites

The vendors that were already providing Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) suites continued down the path in a big way and a few others joined the fray.  These suites were re-branded, integrations were added/improved and user interfaces rationalized.  With the expansion of these suites comes added functionality, often higher cost, longer deployment times and a different set of integration points.  The value of managing manufacturing operations independently needs to be weighed against cost and against integration complexity.

Smaller applications

MES/MOM vendors are not standing still.  At least 15% of those surveyed for the MQ are developing, or have released, new micro-services-based architectures that provided targeted capabilities atop workflow/data platforms.   These solutions will be well positioned to take advantage of distributed computing (cloud), expanded data sources (IIoT) and advanced analytics (and eventually AI/ML).  These enhanced offerings are giving us glimpses of what smart factories can achieve.  While there are no clear winners yet, the losers will be monolithic MES/MOM applications that don’t evolve to meet these challenges.

Retirement of old names

One of the more interesting phenomena in the Magic Quadrant for MES is the replacement of older product names, some of which have been around for decades:

Ampla – AVEVA Mining Operations Management

Wonderware – AVEVA MES

SIMATIC IT,  Camstar – Siemens Opcenter Execution

IQMS  – Dassault Systèmes DELMIAworks

Solumina – iBASEt Digital Manufacturing Suite

Mattec – Epicor Advanced MES

While it may make sense to jettison an old moniker and make a clean break when introducing significant new offerings, they had better be significant new offerings.  Customers will know the difference and will see through a charade.  So, for better or worse, goodbye, old friends!

Gartner clients can download the 2018-2019 Gartner/MESA International ‘Business Value of MES’ Survey Analysis, and stay tuned for:

  • The 2019 Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems
  • The 2019 Critical Capabilities for Manufacturing Execution Systems, and
  • The eight vertical industry context documents:
    • Aerospace & Defense,
    • Automotive,
    • Chemical/Oil & Gas,
    • Consumer Packaged Goods,
    • Electronics/Semiconductor,
    • Food & Beverage,
    • Life Sciences, and
    • Primary & Fabricated Metals

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