Traditionally, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are software solutions that are installed and deployed on the internal infrastructure. These systems run on legacy servers, databases, networks and work stations. Maintenance, support, installations and changes are handled by the own IT department.
Cloud MES is fundamentally different. It is a so-called 'Software As A Service (SaaS)' solution, meaning that the software runs over the Internet in a public Cloud using the extensive hardware and infrastructure in global datacenters of the public Cloud provider such as Amazon. Cloud MES usually has a simple fixed price software license model making the costs transparent. Users access the SaaS Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) software in the Cloud via an Internet Browser. In addition, a Cloud MES can support open Application Programming Interfaces to enable legacy software on local servers and equipment to connect over the Internet to the Cloud MES functions and data. For example, for dedicated reporting or analytics software that require data feeds from the Cloud MES.
EZ-MES in the Cloud
We provide flexible deployment solutions. One of our solutions is EZ-MES in the Cloud. If you opt for our Cloud Solution, you can access all EZ-MES features as a SaaS solution, meaning that we give you access to a fully running version of EZ-MES via the Internet. You will be up and running within 24 hours without the need for any installation of setups of any software on your internal infrastructure. You can run all the functions of EZ-MES via Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome or Firefox. We will take care of all the IT stuff such as support, updates, backups and security matters. Allowing you to focus on your core manufacturing business.
How safe is EZ-MES in the Cloud?
EZ-MES in the Cloud runs on the global infrastructure of Amazon Webservices (AWS). The data centers and network infrastructure of Amazon are built to meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. The AWS infrastructure puts strong safeguards in place to help protect privacy and security. All data is stored in highly secure AWS data centers. The security level of the AWS data centers in general is considered to be much higher than that of a local server park.
Although AWS is a public Cloud, this does not mean that everyone can access your application and data in the Cloud via the Internet. In addition to enforcing strong logins and secured connections, we can put in place a Firewall only allowing access from registered IP addresses. In effect, for example, only allowing physical access from your network infrastructures.
Higher uptime compared to legacy systems
Maintaining an internal infrastructure with servers, databases, networks, cables and many more components is complex. A small hardware failure in a non redundant component or a wrongly configured update can cause a black out. We fully understand that the up-time is a mission critical requirement in manufacturing processes. The uptime of Amazon AWS on the average has been proven to be much higher than legacy systems. Also, we can be expected to have a higher level of expertise in maintaining our own EZ-MES software. We strongly believe that an EZ-MES in the Cloud will have a higher up-time compared to running EZ-MES on internal legacy systems.
Scale up and scale down
An important advantage of a Public Cloud solution is the easy and speed with which the required virtual hardware resources in the Cloud can be both scaled up and scaled down. Suppose your order volume increases suddenly and you need to pump up your production with additional production lines or even additional plants. Your EZ-MES software may need more CPU and Memory (bigger databases, bigger backups etc). In case EZ-MES in running on Amazon AWS, we can simply and almost in realtime scale up your EZ-MES software to a bigger Virtual Machine within the Amazon Cloud. The same is true if for example your plant moves or expands to another geographical location or even continent. Suppose local regulations require your data to be physically stored in that region. We can digitally move your EZ-MES software and data to another geographical location within the Amazon global Cloud. In case you need to scale down, we can scale down the resources needed for your EZ-MES in the Cloud.
Connect facilities, subcontractors and customers
Likely you don't make all the parts that you need for your end product yourself. They might come for example from other facilities, or from specialized subcontractors. And sometimes your customers also want to have insights in what and how you have produced a product for them. When your MES solution is in the Cloud, it is easy to involve them in the total supply chain by giving them authorized access to your MES system. All features of EZ-MES in the Cloud can be accessed over the Internet, only using an Internet Browser. Giving access to subcontractors and/or customers to (parts of) your EZ-MES software is only a matter of authorizing them in EZ-MES, by assigning them with an appropriate user role.
Cloud MES and Internet of Things (IoT)
Also in manufacturing, more and more "things" become equipped with data-gathering and processing capabilities, being it your equipment, a Labview application, or your mobile device to check the status of a 'hot-lot'. In case these "things" are connected via the Internet to other "things", in fact establishing automated machine-to-machine communication, the term "Internet of Things (IoT)" is used. One of the features of EZ-MES in the Cloud is that the software contains an open Application Programming Interface (API). This open API allows Internet of Things devices access to core functions and data of your EZ-MES software. For example to automatically transfer measurements in production steps to the EZ-MES software or tell the EZ-MES software that a part has moved to a next production step. Of course, the open API is secured via several authorization methods and levels.
In IT, the Cloud has been proven to be a disruptor, shifting computing from legacy systems to virtual machines that can be scaled up and down on demand and digitally moved around the world. The next level in manufacturing is assumed to be more and more decentralized as production plants become "virtual production units". Requiring a very flexible way to handle both vertical and horizontal integration. Each Virtual Production Unit will contain an increasing amount of smart sensors, actuators or equipment generating an increasing stream of data. This data is not only required to control flows and quality but also be used for automated analytical purposes. Is seems unavoidable that the Manufacturing Execution Systems used in such Smart Industries will "live in the Cloud".