CGI has released their annual MES Product Survey. This is the 17th year the organization has published this report tracking trends in manufacturing execution systems (MES). This year, the report included feedback from MES suppliers from around the world who submitted data on 74 MES products, their services, technologies, quality, and industry focus.
The report’s authors point out that industry fit is very important when selecting a MES solution. “We’re often asked what the best MES product would be,” explains Jan Snoeij, report author and principal business consultant at CGI*. “Basically, there is no correct answer to that question. It would at least depend on what a manufacturing company wants to achieve. A very important key for success is the availability of knowledge and expertise of the domain of that company. This means that the solution provider, either the MES vendor or the system integrator (or both), needs to know his customer and their process and ways of working. This is a prerequisite for successful implementation of the MES solution.”
For the second year in a row, CAT Squared was the only participating solutions provider whose sole focus was serving the food industry. “Our customers have told us that they selected our product because of our focus on the food industry,” said CAT Squared CEO Vernon Smith. “We have replaced several systems from other vendors who market their solution to the food industry; however, their product was originally developed for the aerospace or mining industries. Oftentimes, we see companies spend a great deal of time and money trying to reengineer a product developed for another industry to fit the food production process. It’s been a costly lesson to some of our customers.”
The MES Product Survey explained that many vendors began expanding their focus to new industries as a result of the economic crisis. The Survey states that after 2008, “Vendors seemed to position their products more as ‘one size fits all’ addressing as many sectors as possible.” With the economic recovery, this trend is beginning to subside; however, (of the 24 industries covered) the Survey identified the food & beverage industry as the most competitive sector with over 70 percent of survey respondents self-identifying that their solution is a fit for that industry.
Additionally, the Survey points out that “there is quite a difference in the claimed focus or support for the industry sectors and the actual business done in those sectors.” For example, over 70 percent of respondents claimed their product supported the food and beverage industry. However, less than 60 percent had done significant business in that industry. Furthermore, the Survey defines a “significant” level of business to be at least 5 percent of the solution provider’s business. CAT Squared has a proven track record with 100 percent of their business being performed in the food industry.
Because manufacturing processes and regulatory requirements for the food industry are unique, it’s necessary that vendors serving the industry are intimately familiar with the landscape.
“During the economic downturn, we never shifted our focus away from the food production industry,” said Smith. “We know what we’re good at. All of our top management came out of the food industry, and all of our training staff are required to maintain HACCP certification. The results of the MES Survey confirm the uniqueness of our offering to the industry.”
The complete MES Product Survey is available through CGI’s website at
* As of October 1, 2016, Jan Snoeij is president/senior consultant at the MOM Institute.