At Authentise, we’ve always been uncomfortable with the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) mantle to describe what we’ve been doing for the last few years. We used this term because it was the predominant term at the time. But it was really used to describe a product borne from a more organic desire to help an industry that needed flexibility, but also wanted to mature and scale and had some critical advantages - like lack of legacy and new connection options.
Not just MES
Adding the MES label to that product was an afterthought borne of a need to describe it to people. But in reality we do much more than MES. MES focuses on, you guessed it, executing the production, and everything that’s required for it (such as resource and asset management, quality, part tracking and integration). This means that you can manage and connect your machines, track your parts (often using digital travelers) and people, and generate reports.
Authentise does all that - we’d argue better than any other system. But we also do more. For instance, extend into critical early stages of the process: generating quotes for a more holistic order review, and managing the pre-production workflow phase. There are also steps that are part of production, in which we’ve felt that traditional MES was lacking. For instance, Authentise allows you to communicate directly with your contractors for full or steps of the process - each with their own login to quote and report status information to you. Traditional MES don’t seem to go deep enough into material management either - at least not for additive purposes. We’ve changed that, which, together with the machine, test, and many other types of data we capture, results in the most detailed report on part production we can find anywhere.
A new style
Why are we so tied to the MES term anyway? It’s not like people particularly like the 2 options they have: Either buy a flexible system that has next to no automation and is little more than a glorified Excel sheet, or you buy highly automated systems that are good for one thing: managing high throughput situations. If you want to change the product being produced you will, most often, need consultants to do so for you. When they’re functional they operate more like traffic lights that tell you whether the production rate is as expected.
Authentise has a different approach. We aim to be both flexible and drive towards the highest efficiency. Connected and automated, but still flexible. Not a traffic light and not a glorified Excel sheet: more like a co-bot of manufacturing software. We do this primarily because our tool is built on a unique set of development modules from our 3Diax platform. These give us the flexibility to add in third party algorithms with ease, and even allows them to compete against each other to make sure that users always have access to the best in class. In doing so we’re building on a prevailing trend in the industry that’s decompiling the monolithic software tools such as CAD and making each functional system available separately - allowing new entrants to compete more easily. The modularity also means that we’ve built API connectors to pretty much every functionality, which makes it easier to integrate and to add machine data in for automation where possible.
A new name
That still leaves us with the question of what to call the product. We’ve played around with moving to other terms that are used more or less frequently in the industry: Manufacturing Operations Management was one of them. Aside from the jokes we could have with MOM, there are also some camps that define MOM as a broader camp than just MES and include document management, statistical process control, and configuration control as part of it. In addition to seeming like a broader camp, managing “operations” also seems like more along the lines of what we do. Yes, MOM is fraught with as many opinions of what it actually means as MES is, and MOM is potentially even more confusing to people as less have heard of it.
So, back to the drawing board. Maybe something completely new? Product Operations Platform perhaps? We like that for being descriptive of what our pre-production features now allow us to do. POP also has a ring. But the more we thought about new acronyms, the more we realized we’d just be adding to the confusion. So, in the end, we swung back to what people know… but not quite. What we settled on is aMES. “a” can alternatively stand for Authentise or Advanced but it indicates, in any case, that the system goes beyond just a simple MES tool. Plus, it’s a nod to our past, after all we were founded on the NASA AMES campus in Silicon Valley.