Kent has been working with leading MES software providers and customer implementations at a variety of Life Sciences companies for over twenty years—first as a developer, and then as project manager for some of the industry’s most widely accepted MES solutions. As a lead consultant today, he has honed his skills at dozens of customer sites, where he employs his own brand of ‘discovery’ to uncover the most critical needs of each department.
Kent typically starts by meeting with the warehousing team to learn how the customer handles its raw materials and how they enter the production facility. Then, he interviews each operations area—from buffer preparation to fill & finish to packaging, and others—to ascertain their particular challenges and priorities. These requirements sessions allow Kent to provide feedback that allows him to make recommendations that fulfill the customer’s needs. It may take modifications to the software, to the process, or both; regardless, there needs to be room for flexibility all around. In his experience, a lot of companies do not fully appreciate the time, expense, and hassle involved with software updates or customization and that, at times, it can be more expedient to adapt the process to what the software offers versus modifying the software.
Kent emphasizes, “It’s vitally important to speak with every group, because MES touches every aspect of the manufacturing process and the facility itself, even maintenance. One of the most crucial departments is Quality, who must be a part of the system design from the very beginning. Providing them with the ability to perform investigations, in real time, while the details are fresh, is imperative.”
Kent admits that his mind is always active and that he sometimes loses sleep when trying to figure out a particularly challenging issue. As a consultant, he sees his role as multi-factorial—gathering and interpreting user requirements, making recommendations, mentoring his team of engineers, supervising the project, and teaching his customers how to get the most out of MES.
In today’s world, he prefers the term, MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management) because it’s broader than MES and reflects a maturity—a larger understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish in the organization. In the end, it’s all about getting better control over the customer’s processes and doing things right, the first time.