What is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) ?


To remain competitive and ensure growth, a company needs to know how to innovate and embrace the change that begins with the transition to the Industry 4.0 era. For context, Industry 4.0 is the implementation of technologies that make it possible to use a company’s data to take intelligent action at all levels.

When it comes to the fourth industrial revolution, the point is, it’s not a matter of choice; it’s a necessity. A successful digital transformation is the main component that makes a company competitive and able to set itself apart from the competition.

In this article, we will introduce you to one of the essential technologies of this new era, “Production Management Software,” more commonly known as MES (Manufacturing Execution System). At the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what this technology is, how it can benefit you, and why it’s important to include it in your digital transformation.

What is a manufacturing execution system (MES) ?

What is an MES?

A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a software solution that ensures the quality and efficiency of a company’s production processes, from orders to finished products. To do this, the MES collects data in real time from the different elements of the existing process: inventory of materials, resources, machines, etc. This step ensures perfect traceability of all components and material flows in the assembly line, thus allowing more efficient planning of production. In this way, complete and real-time monitoring of the company’s material flows will be considered.

To get an idea of what this looks like, consider an MES as an information system that connects the different elements of a production chain, extracts the necessary information, and shares it with the entire system to ensure the smooth operation of the entire production chain. The MES provides an increased level of sharpness of extracted data to further optimize manufacturing processes.

The Main Functions and Advantages of MES

Among the main functions of MES, the most important are:

  • Optimization of production process planning: this concerns the management of process flows. The M.E.S. plans each step of the production process based on the information it has (e.g., availability of resources and machines, etc.).
  • Quality control of final products: based on data, the M.E.S. ensures the quality of final products by facilitating the monitoring of various quality measurement KPIs that have been determined previously.
  • Control and guarantee of the availability of equipment and resources: the M.E.S. collects data from the chain of command, and effectively manages the availability or unavailability of materials and resources.
  • Identification of time-consuming and sub-optimal processes: with the quantity and quality of data available, sub-optimal processes are easily identified and rectified, furthering optimization processes.
  • Support for decision-making: the information generated by the tool is a significant asset for decision-makers who can use precise data to implement smarter actions based on Business Intelligence.

The main point here is that these tasks are accomplished in real time. And this is the central asset of an M.E.S. Obviously, the tool is able to run from complex processes; it is also able to process large amounts of data from multiple sources, to share information on the different stages of production, all at the exact moment when the events are happening.

In short, an M.E.S. enables further optimization of production planning. This is concretely translated into:

  • Cost reduction;
  • Downtime and manual tasks related to data collection;
  • An increase in production efficiency and the quality of finished products;
  • More efficient management of production thanks to better planning of materials and available resources.

MES vs ERP ?

Given the information shared so far, it’s relevant to ask the difference between an MES and an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or Integrated Management Software, since this type of software also manages production resources.

Despite the obvious similarities, they are very different tools, which fulfill different roles in a company’s production chain. You could say that the MES and the ERP are tools that offer considerable benefits when used in conjunction.

Reach your Strategic Objectives Through the Implementation of an MES

MES has more to offer than better monitoring of production. At its best, it will allow you to make optimal use of your company’s data in real time, since you’ll be able to share this precious data with the systems you’ve already set up (integration with an ERP, PLCs, etc.).

Did you know that…

Having good visibility on your key performance indicators (KPI) allows you to make informed decisions to improve production processes, reduce costs and satisfy customers. In addition, a good understanding of these indicators can help you anticipate market trends and develop strategies to maintain and increase your company’s competitiveness.

What about your company’s KPIs?

Stay competitive: evaluate your manufacturing KPIs effectively.

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