A Manufacturing Execution System (MES), is an information system connecting monitors and controls to manufacturing systems and data flows that take place on a factory or shop floor. The overall goal of MES is to make certain that manufacturing operations are effectively executed and improve production output. That goal is achieved by tracking and gathering real-time and accurate data about a complete production lifecycle.
MES is the comprehensive system that controls all the activities occurring on the shop floor. It begins with all the various orders from customers, the MRP system, the master schedule, and other planning sources; and then builds the products in the most effective, low cost, expedient, and high- quality way possible. A comparative example occurs in the construction business where the construction team (MES) builds a tower from the architectural plans (inputs from MRP, Master schedule, etc.)
MES has had quite the evolution. In the 1970s manufacturing organizations used software applications to automate their accounts. Over time, those applications were improved in order to provide the standard inventory management features. In the late 1970s/early 1980s came the MRP (Material Requirements Planning) systems, capable of material planning, material control and production definition.
AMR Research, who defined MES as a “dynamic information system that drives effective execution of manufacturing operations”, first coined the term in 1992. Early MES models were on-site applications, coded in a way that would represent current manufacturing process of the organizations as-is.
The MES application has evolved from the simple data collection application that it was in the late 1980s into a more modern software in today’s age and time.
In 1995, the ISA-95 standard was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) with the mission to provide abstract models and standard terminologies for the exchange of information between enterprise business systems and manufacturing operations systems in an enterprise.
The MES 11 model published in 1997 features the core functions of a manufacturing execution system. This model showed functions including scheduling and sequencing, maintenance and quality.
In its most current form, MES’ core functions include:
Today’s shop floor is a complex, continually varying environment. The scheduling needs to account for a level of variation that is typically beyond the scope of the planning systems- MRP, Master Scheduling and the like. MES considers and controls the highly critical details of a typical plant shop floor.
It is therefore imperative to place the right tools and critical information in the hands of your front-line shop floor personnel, so they can produce your products in the most optimal manner possible. A good manufacturing execution system operates on a real time basis, allowing the schedulers to react to immediate variance on the shop floor. The MES also responds immediately to help make faster decisions on such things as costing over-runs, poor quality and late deliveries. It is virtually the heartbeat for all things happening on the shop floor.
Yet another critical characteristic of a Class A MES, is the ability to integrate with the systems surrounding it. Not only will this eliminate the mindless re-entry of mounds of data, it will also allow the adjustments necessary to bring the surrounding systems closer to reality. For example, critical information from the shop floor is needed to update other elements of the ERP system such as Inventory, Costing, and Procurement. Setup times may be improving with new techniques used on the shop floor, and need to be fed to the ERP system for future use. This will provide better information when advising customers of projected delivery dates on new orders, or will provide improved costing information when making pricing decisions. The shop floor information provides the reality to make the adjustments necessary to continually update the other business systems.
A high-quality manufacturing execution system will also provide the best tools for controlling the scheduling needs directly on the shop floor. The shop is a complex environment with a high level of variety. Your schedulers are therefore critical in finding key opportunities to improve your production results.
Both MES and ERP (enterprise resource planning software) have the ability to work together. Since both software’s bring different capabilities to the forefront, using them together can help bring your business about more well-rounded results. Both software’s can be integrated, which can increase operational clarity and equip organizations with the ability to monitor and adjust performance against business plans. ERP knows why decisions need to be made, while MES know how to make those decisions. Both systems have their own purpose which can make them complimentary components.
A truly robust MES system needs to include all the critical functions performed on the shop floor. A good MES cannot be totally responsive without the key shop floor pieces in place. The following functions should be offered at a minimum:
A well run plant can offer several significant benefits to a best-in- class manufacturer. From a broad perspective, a manufacturer can expect significant improvements in bottom line profitability, on time delivery, and better quality products. On a more granular basis, a manufacturer can see improvements in the following significant items:
-This article was prepared by Harry Mosesian, a long time employee of WorkWise, Inc, a supplier of solutions for the small to medium sized manufacturer- in both software and consulting expertise. WorkWise is also the provider of Role Based ERP, the latest innovation in ERP, providing the highest productivity and ease of use in the industry.-
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