MTEK released its Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software product toward the end of 2020 and has, so far, found success in the discrete manufacturing market, due to strong work order instruction tool design and low-cost, rapid deployment, options making the MES attractive for low-volume, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) manufacturers, with the company winning seven out of seven of the Requests for Proposal (RFPs) it has participated in, beating out established market vendors. If MTEK wants to remain competitive within the SME space, it will have to continue to drive innovation in new functionality, alongside remaining adaptable to changing client needs.
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MTEK Is the New MES Software Vendor on the Block
MTEK, headquartered in Sweden, was founded in 2002 as a global manufacturing consulting company. In 2015, the company changed direction and moved instead into the MES market, building MBrain, which was launched toward the end of 2020. MBrain is a cloud-native Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software offering that can be deployed globally and is designed specifically for discrete manufacturing industries. The solution has been chosen by manufacturers, such as Koenigsegg Automotive AB (a luxury car manufacturer), Kollmorgen (offering motor control solutions), and Warner Electric (developer of electromagnetic clutch and break technologies), and is generally suited for companies that have many regular changes on the shop floor, work off an order bill, and have a large amount of new product design.
The company’s main competitors are other flexible, cloud-based solution providers, such as Tulip and Plex Systems; companies that were both seen as top innovators in ABI Research’s most recent Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Software Suppliers competitive assessment (CA-1367).
What Sets MTEK Apart?
The combination of a full range of deployment styles, including on-premises, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and hybrid with its low, fixed-price point, is what makes MTEK unique in the market and challenging for incumbents, particularly when selling to SME manufacturers. Furthermore, MTEK MBrain is 100% no code, allowing for quick and easy deployment, customization, and upgrades that can be done by Operational Technologies (OT) teams on the shop floor, not an Information Technology (IT) team, and, so far, none among MTEK’s customer base has used a System Integrator (SI) in their deployments, lowering the cost of adoption even more. For small and initial deployments, MTEK allows manufacturers to deploy the MBrain in less than a week with no negative impact on production aside from downtime during implementation, and with its use of REST Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), the software can be easily deployed alongside a wide range of pre-existing hardware and software. The modular and containerized design of the software means that users only need to select the elements of the software that they require to download and use, rather than having to manage and implement the entire solution. This design allows manufacturers to easily scale their solution up or down and iterate functionality as their business evolves (see ABI Insight “Cloud and SMEs Represent Significant Opportunities for MES Vendors”).
Innovative features include a uniquely designed incident reporting system and a flexible work order instruction tool. The former allows operators to track the use of safety protocols and if they were followed, alongside being able to visually show where an injury occurred on the worker’s body. The latter provides simple customization of manufacturing flows, with an easy drag-and-drop editing process that allows operators to flexibly adapt and rapidly adjust work instructions to changing product designs. The strength of this work order instruction module means that manufacturers can rapidly onboard new staff, allows for lower skill requirements for new operators, and reduces manual errors during production.
MTEK has a partner network that includes many different types of companies to facilitate integration and interoperability with heavily used market software and technologies. Examples include Accenture, Ericsson, IBM, Avanade, and ABB, in addition to Microsoft, which hosts the MTEK solution. MBrain also integrates with Microsoft Teams for production and material replenishment alerts. Alerts come through on a Microsoft Teams channel, including information about which line the alert corresponds to, the reason for it, and the severity of the alert. Operators within that channel are then able to communicate to either delegate responses or provide supporting information.
How Has MTEK Found Success and How Can It Continue to Do So?
MTEK has found success in targeting SME manufacturers that require easy to use software that works well with rapidly changing, low-volume production processes. The low cost and flexible forms of deployment create a low barrier to entry for these smaller manufacturers into digital transformation, and MTEK leverages the current weakness of many larger vendors, such as Dassault Systèmes, by simplifying their products and reducing cost. However, many of the larger MES vendors, such as Rockwell, Plex Systems, Siemens, and GE Digital are now offering their solutions as SaaS, turning Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) into Operational Expenditure (OPEX) and making their solutions more accessible to SMEs. Furthermore, modularity has become a key selling point for many of these larger vendors, something that for a while, had remained a key unique selling point of smaller, pure-play vendors in the MES market. Overall, if MTEK wants to drive continued business growth in the SME market, it will have to increasingly innovate regarding product functionality and further develop its product niche within discrete manufacturing verticals, just as Apprentice.io has successfully done within the life sciences market. Remaining flexible and quickly adapting its solution to meet customer needs is the key to MTEK competing with established heavy hitters in the market, which are less able to change their solutions as they manage larger legacy enterprise client bases and have established product design roadmaps.
If MTEK wants to increasingly compete in the enterprise client space, it will have to produce strong use case examples that demonstrate the company’s success in delivering solutions at that scale. Large manufacturers will already have established MES solutions in place, and unlike SMEs, which will often take the cheapest and simplest option, these companies will require demonstratable Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) improvements and the ability to scale, alongside competitive and innovative functionality design, to convince them to stop using top market suppliers like Siemens, Dassault Systèmes, and Rockwell Automation.