Q&A: Michelle Mertens, Hitachi Computer Products, Inc.

Michelle MertensI had the opportunity to participate in a webcast between Michelle Mertens, Hitachi Computer Products, Inc. and Andrew Hughes, Principal Analyst MOM Practice at LNS Research.

Below is a condensed transcript of select questions that were asked by the audience immediately following the presentation. This feedback offers a unique perspective of what challenges Hitachi Computer Products had to overcome while in process of implementing their global manufacturing execution system.


BENZIE: Which was your pilot factory, and how were the processes rolled out to the next three factories? Was it simultaneous, or sequential?

MERTENS:  The initial footprint was created at our U.S. factory in 2009. That was prior to the global initiative. We were in the process of replacing our current MES. At that time, the factory in Japan was using a purchased product and then the factory in Europe was using a homegrown solution. So, when it came time to select a global product, if you will, obviously ours was one of the candidates. But, at that point, we worked with the Japan team to pilot a smaller piece of functionality across the DELMIA Apriso technology stack as a proof of concept.  Once everything started rolling and we truly had the global initiative, we had to realign our local U.S. implementation because, of course, we made a significant amount of changes to go into the global as practiced type of structure, and we were essentially already live with some changes that we referred to as re-factorizations. Then we brought up one of our major product lines – the European factory first – and then the second product line across the U.S. and the European factory and then moved on to the Japan factories. So we did not do any type of Big Bang, if you will. We certainly rolled them out so that we could have the proper staff both technically and functional end to support everything.

BENZIE: As part of your implementation, there was likely a question on how to “draw the line” between what would be done in ERP and what would be done in MES? And, in a thirty second answer please? 🙂

MERTENS:  Well, basically, having worked on several ERP implementations as well in the past, for us – the ERP is where the money is. The MES is where the process is – the quality and, for us, the traceability. So, anything that’s going to source MRP or that’s going to source finance, the system of record is going to be the ERP system. The process, the quality and pure traceability – the system of record was going to be the MES. How’s that for a quick answer?

BENZIE:  That’s very impressive.

BENZIE:  Is there any R&D functionality within this deployment you’ve done and a minimum size for facilities that makes sense?

MERTENS:   In terms of the MES, the R&D aspects are not tracked in our MES. We do manufacturing, of course, quality as well as starting to look at some aspects of customer repair. Our system of record as well as our research and development foundation is actually managed in a separate system. So, essentially, I’d say the answer to that question would be no at this time if I understand it correctly.

BENZIE:  Mm-hmm. How about a minimum size for a facility? Do you see that? I mean, you’ve done three now. Do you see that there might be a minimum or do you think that this could be deployed, regardless of size?

MERTENS:  Yeah, I think absolutely. The smaller the easier.  Because we’re an electronics manufacturer and we’re doing some pretty high end solutions, we consider our foundation to be pretty complex. And, in working with our counterparts within our industry as well as manufacturing , now it’s become pretty evident that what we’ve deployed here is pretty intricate and complex. When we look at some of our product lines that are a lot more basic, they were able to do more of a modular type of approach. Those are able almost to be plug-and-play so, from a certain sense, as a member of a team those would be the ones that would be the easiest to do. Definitely, from a scalable standpoint the smaller – the less complex – the easier it is just to plug it out there. I don’t think there really is a minimum.

BENZIE:  Sounds logical.


If you liked this article, here are others you might also find interesting: