MES: Engineering Supply Chain Excellence

MES: Engineering Supply Chain Excellence

Hiten Shah, President & CEO, MESHiten Shah, President & CEO As the cavernous shop floor of a manufacturing plant bustles with the humdrum of everyday operations, the general manager on duty is often seen settling a series of calls from the confines of his office. A supplier just backed out, inventory has been held back due to shipping delays, and in another case, engineers are unable to replicate a client’s custom design requirement. These scenarios—in the wake of changing economics in production and distribution—combined with shifts in consumer expectations, are putting manufacturers under pressure to deliver personalized product versions as well as improve speed to market. To add to the challenges, most domestic manufacturers lack the access to resources and competent suppliers to deliver quality output on time and they often spend exorbitantly on procuring manufacturing parts, especially for low–mid volumes. On the bright side, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier one suppliers finally have a resolution for all their product sourcing and domestic operations needs with MES, a one-stop-shop for manufacturing and supply chain management services. MES has developed a compelling global supply chain system that provides custom-engineered solutions along with complete outsourcing of supply chain management all backed by state-of-the-art IT. “We believe that our clients don’t have to settle or make tradeoffs between quality, speed, and price when sourcing internationally. We create win-win solutions with the right approach to the global market,” says Hiten Shah, President of MES.

To manage the entire supply chain process from sourcing to shipping, MES follows a distinct five-step process. This encompasses sourcing suppliers that offer custom engineered products, developing quality systems within a tight manufacturing window, logistics management with the fastest freight solutions, performing domestic value-added operations, and warehousing and inventory management, delivered through the best distribution network on a just-in-time basis. MES, for the most part, is industry agnostic and caters to the needs of both large-scale clients and SMBs in the lighting, automotive, medical, and heavy equipment manufacturing industry by delivering capabilities in die casting, assemblies, forging, and molding and extrusions. All of MES’s solutions are engineered for excellence and to specifically support products with a short life cycle and lower volumes, freeing supply chain managers to focus on core, high volume products. The company also offers a high-mix variety basket of components at an overall lower cost of 20-50 percent over domestic sourcing.

From Sourcing to Shipping

Working with 550 suppliers from all over the globe starting from India, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia, MES has a committed and ever-growing supplier network.

We believe that our clients don’t have to settle or make tradeoffs between quality, speed, and price when sourcing internationally

All the suppliers working with MES are ISO certified and with a solid history of producing advanced and quality parts. The company takes pride in helping some of the largest North American OEMs such as Eaton, Acuity Brands, Siemens and Emerson by managing their entire outsourced manufacturing process. Here Shah gives an example of a lighting manufacturer who uses 20,000 parts per year. While the client was spending $55,000 in tooling in the U.S., with MES intervening and leveraging its global suppliers, the price was brought down to $22,000. Almost a 10 percent difference in price per piece was observed. Another noteworthy example is that of Eaton a prominent leader in power management solutions, who was facing challenges in developing a proprietary range of high purity mission critical copper components that had to be 99.995 percent pure. The client was tussling with its six raw material suppliers that were based in four different countries. After MES came onboard, they worked with only three fabricators located in China and India and developed a comprehensive solution to supply about 40 components, which is expected to reach 80 components in the next 12-15 months. “We believe we are only as good as our suppliers and offer undue support to help them enhance their competitiveness and growth,” states Shah.

"We validate quality in every step of the way"

A relational over a transactional understanding with suppliers is a strong reason why MES’s products are by far superior to other vendors. “We validate quality in every step of the way,” adds Shah. The company utilizes project management tools, 3D scanners, and FARO arms for advanced product quality and planning. To stay in line with a client’s custom engineering requirements, MES puts together a design structure matrix that is a compact and visual representation of a project. In the early production stage, they also build pilot projects for maximum customer benefit. Moreover, constant inspections, rigorous reviews, and audits are made to ensure accurate methods and delivery timeliness is maintained. To highlight a use case, MES has been working with the Schneider Electric division for almost 15 months, conducting detailed cost and quality benchmarking and planning for a batch of around 48 parts. Consequently, Schneider Electric will be a multi-million customer this year. Apart from vigorously tracking the tooling process, MES also offered the best solution to ship daily to the client’s Mexico and California plants.

It goes without saying that on-time delivery (OTD) is one of MES’s top priorities. The company carefully manages global logistics processes, including shipping routes, port, and customs requirements. “We work with very strong third-party logistics partners to consolidate most of our shipments at the delivery port,” mentions Shah.

To streamline component requirements, in line with a client’s specific requests, MES provides a range of operations domestically such as parts customization, painting and powder coating, and special E-coating. Lastly, for smooth inventory management, the company has strategically placed warehouses across the U.S. and globally so that a shipment is never one to three days away. MES’s OTD in 2017 was 98.7 percent, which is considered benchmark level for all OEM’s and Tier-1 customers.

The Future of Smart Manufacturing

For complete visibility of the supply chain and inventory, the MES uses an automated portal called MESH that helps achieve seamless traceability and optimization of demand forecasting, product replenishment, quality controls, and planning measures. MESH is also optimized for the mobile allowing engineers and MES personnel to present real-time information on quality issues, production status, or shipping details. “In case there is a problem everyone working on the project receives an alert, which aids in faster communication and remedies,” states Shah. Since the system is completely cloud-based all information is transparent and available to the global team at all times.

Having built MES on a culture of trust, transparency, and visibility, all team members also receive access to the company’s sales, quality records, and profits and losses in a monthly metrics meeting. “We believe in adapting to changing market conditions, accepting failures, and bridging our shortcomings with focused execution strategies,” says Shah. All members at MES are encouraged to engage in cross-departmental communication as it inculcates an environment of knowledge sharing among staff that comprises six sigma engineers, supply chain experts, quality inspectors, and business analysts. “I keep in mind that I would want to work at a place where I am appreciated, where I could grow, where I was challenged and had the benefits to lead a good quality of life—that’s what we try to do at MES,” gushes Shah. The company also actively engages in community work through charitable trusts in India as well as The Columbus Foundation. Moreover, associates in the company are encouraged to donate to the charity of their choice, and last year the company made donations to over 60 different organizations globally.

Underpinning their success on the 3 C’s—a robust culture, committed customer service, and cost efficiency—MES is ready to deep dive and further enhance their value proposition in the coming days. The second half of 2018 will be dedicated to expanding the company’s supplier network into Vietnam and Korea. Growth in warehousing facilities will mostly occur in the UK and a new office is expected to be set up in Europe. With a growing number of customers, MES is also contemplating to increase their footprint across the U.S. and Mexico. Some deeper quality work in the area of iron and steel and copper components is also on the charts. “We have our hands full but our goal in the next five years is to double the size of the company, leverage our strengths in the form of people, technology, and processes, and leave no stone unturned to reach our vision,” ends Shah.

- Sandeepa Majumdar
    April 05, 2018