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Summary: A manufacturing execution system oversees the entire manufacturing process, from raw materials in the inventory to the production of finished goods. It acts as a functional layer between process control systems and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, enabling decision-makers to efficiently manage shop floor activities and optimize production by providing relevant data.
A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) significantly increases business efficiency by making the manufacturing process data-driven. Although MES software helps manufacturing companies of all sizes, it plays a critical role in highly-regulated industries like aeronautics & aerospace, pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, biotechnology, and defense — industries that need to adhere to government regulations. These industries must ensure that:
A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) plays a vital role in today’s ever-changing and rapidly developing manufacturing ecosystem.
Transparency Market Research claims that the global manufacturing execution system market will reach USD 18.06 billion by 2025. The primary contributing factors to this phenomenal growth are:
Rapid technological innovation is changing the face of manufacturing. But it’s also putting pressure on the operations team to maintain high-quality levels. As a result, manufacturers need to make informed decisions to compete in a fast-paced environment.
Here’s a list of features of MES that will help manufacturers to achieve strategic business goals:
1. Manufacturing Execution Systems track and synchronize manufacturing activities in multiple plants globally. As a result, stakeholders can access and share data in real-time, optimizing productivity and efficiency.
2. Manufacturing Execution Systems track the real-time location of products and order details on the plant floor. Moreover, it also monitors financial transactions and dispatches orders to shop floor personnel.
3. Manufacturing Execution Systems eliminates paperwork, reduces redundant checks, and decreases scraps.
4. Manufacturing Execution Systems allow companies to enforce changes immediately and simplify complex processes without hassles.
5. Manufacturing Execution Systems improve manufacturing process quality by eliminating human-induced error by automatically enforcing business rules, providing quality checks, and tracking lots/batches.
6. Manufacturing Execution Systems offer real-time feedback to decision-makers, enabling them to identify challenges and find solutions quickly. This way, companies can focus on continuous process improvement and develop better products.
MES and ERP go hand-in-hand. Together, they support a wide variety of manufacturing operations and processes, including:
A manufacturing execution system (MES) has an open SOA architecture that facilitates shop floor automation and eases integration.
The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) published 11 essential MES functions in 1997. This MESA-11 model has transformed many times since then, but those 11 functions still form the basis of modern manufacturing execution systems. They are as follows:
Handle and distribute documents, such as standards operating procedures, work instructions, and batch records, ensuring they are editable and accessible to multiple stakeholders.
Improve quality control by handling exceptions and tracking quality deviations.
Improve business performance by paying more attention to a better schedule and prioritizing activities based on resource capacity.
Get real-time status of materials, machines, and labor using track & trace algorithms for making allocation adjustments.
Recognize weaknesses and strengths in the manufacturing process by comparing results and goals. This data will help you make the system more efficient.
Data in the MES helps locate equipment issues even before they happen. You can also create effective machine maintenance schedules to reduce downtime.
Optimize labor management by tracking and controlling worker qualifications, schedules, and authorizations through effective resource management and by investing less time.
Acquire real-time data about materials, business processes, and operations to brainstorm effective strategies.
Greatly improve production dispatching efficiency by managing production data flow in real-time.
Access the full product history that helps comply with stringent government rules and regulations and make informed decisions.
Identify bottlenecks in the process to improve quality. Gain product traceability and oversee the entire production process from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing finished goods.
The International Society of Automation (ISA) realized the need to develop a consistent terminology for integrating and synchronizing operations between enterprise and control systems. This led to the development of the ISA-95 standard in the ‘90s, which facilitates effective communication between business stakeholders, including manufacturers and suppliers.
There are 5 levels in ISA-95 that define an interface between enterprise functions and control systems. This model places the manufacturing execution system at level 3.
The below infographic shows the hierarchy:
In today’s cut-throat competitive market, MES and ERP together make the operating system more efficient.
ERP software efficiently manages functions like acquiring raw materials and shipping finished products to the customer. It also allows stakeholders to collect, edit, access, and share critical business data anywhere, anytime, and through any connected device. On the other hand, MES software oversees activities like manufacturing raw materials into finished goods and sharing real-time reports on production line activities.
MES and ERP together provide a holistic view of supply chain management, finance, manufacturing logistics, procurement, etc. As a result, you can substantially increase asset utilization & business agility and improve forecasting by combining these data points and drawing valuable insights.
Another significant difference is that ERP systems help identify which products customers are searching for and have the highest selling potential. On the other hand, MES uses data from ERP to figure out how to manufacture products with more profit and less waste.
By integrating MES software with advanced technologies, they become more modular, service-oriented, and integrated.
For example, on-cloud solutions are helping manufacturing organizations to turn into smart factories by allowing products, devices, and equipment to interact autonomously without any geographical boundaries. IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) sensors and devices collect, generate, and share real-time data and distribute it across the supply chain. This way, they can build customized products and services and automate workflows to become more efficient.
MES software also allows manufacturers to focus on customized production instead of mass production. For example, mass personalization — building highly-tailored products for multiple customers wasn’t possible earlier. But with MES software, you can manufacture products quickly and at competitive prices.
Personalized manufacturing can sometimes be time-taking, disruptive, and include complex processes. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) module in MES eliminates waste, identifies inefficiencies and faults with the equipment even before they occur (predictive maintenance), and strengthens product efficiency.
Moreover, with newly improved Machine Learning capabilities, production lines can become more efficient and smart. With built-in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions, they can optimize shop floor operations and decrease production downtime.
In short, MES software allows manufacturing organizations to respond to customer demands quickly and accurately. It empowers them to build the best quality customized products at the most competitive prices.
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