What is MES?

MES (manufacturing execution system) 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.)

Why can’t I just build to the order schedules from ERP?

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.

Causes of variation on the Shop Floor include:

  • Machine breakdowns
  • Labor absenteeism
  • Changing setup times
  • Cleaning and maintenance times
  • Changing delivery dates
  • Quality problems
  • Alternative work plans
  • Alternative parts list
  • Availability of transport
  • Availability of quality resources
  • Changes to minimize process times, setups

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.

Closed Loop Integration

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.

Shop Floor Scheduling

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.

MES Scheduling Methods:

  • Finite Scheduling
  • Queue Compression
  • Visual scheduler
  • Minimum Operation Priorities
  • Finite Slotting
  • Scheduling Methods:
    • F = Forward
    • R = Repetitive
    • B = Backward
    • O = Overlap
    • M = Manual
    • P = Parallel

Full Functions of MES

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:

  • Resource Allocation and Status
  • Operation/Detail Scheduling
  • Dispatching production Unit
  • Document control
  • Data Collection
  • Labor Management
  • Quality Management
  • Process Management
  • Exception management
  • Maintenance
  • Management
  • Product Tracking and Genealogy
  • Performance Analysis

Benefits of Using Computerized MES

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:

  • Reduces manufacturing cycle time
  • Reduces or eliminates data entry time
  • Reduces work-in-process
  • Reduces or eliminates paperwork between shifts
  • Reduces lead times
  • Improves product quality
  • Eliminates lost paperwork
  • Empowers plant operations people
  • Improves the planning process
  • Improves customer service
  • Reduces setup costs, wait times
  • More reliable and precise sequence planning

What Modules Does a High Level MES Include?

Core Functions of MES:

  • Planning System Interface
  • Visual Scheduler
  • eProduction/Dispatching
  • Shop Floor Control
  • Inventory Tracking and Management
  • Material Movement Management
  • Exception Management
  • Data Collection
  • Exception Management
  • Support Functions of MES
  • Maintenance Management
  • Time and Attendance
  • Payroll
  • Human Resources
  • Job cost
  • Quality
  • Statistical Process Control
  • Performance Management
  • Document Management
  • Product Data Management
  • Genealogy / Product Traceability
  • Product Configurator
  • Bill of Material
  • Engineering change control
  • Supply Chain Management

-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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