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Manufacturers: Resolve to Improve Business Performance with an MES System

Manufacturers: Resolve to Improve Business Performance with an MES System

// January 6, 2015 //

Progressive manufacturers are discovering a digital, paperless manufacturing technology that helps them achieve a multitude of business and production goals.  If you haven’t yet delved into learning more about a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)  or if you have thought about it but haven’t  taken the next steps towards implementing an MES-type of solution, then consider making 2015 the year that you will dramatically improve your production and business performance through an MES system.

What is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)?      

In the simplest of definitions, it is a system designed to enable performance improvements in a manufacturing environment through the acquisition and effective application of production data in a meaningful manner to the end user.

Other terms used to describe an MES type of system include Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM),  Collaborative Product Management (CPM) and Production Operations Management (POM).

How MES Originated

The term was originally coined in 1990 by AMR Research, a major supply chain market research and advisory firm.  In 2009, AMR was acquired by Gartner, a leading technology market research and advisory firm.

According to Gartner, Manufacturing Execution Systems manage, monitor and synchronize the execution of real-time, physical processes involved in transforming raw materials into intermediate and/or finished goods. They coordinate this execution of work orders with production scheduling and enterprise-level systems. MES applications also provide feedback on process performance, and support component- and material-level traceability, genealogy, and integration with process history, where required.

MES Has Evolved

Manufacturing companies seeking to gain greater visibility about production operations and workflows should consider MES.  Early MES solutions were primarily data collection systems.  Now, most MES systems have evolved to go well beyond data collection.  The new MES solutions optimize communication and information flowing across the shop floor and the enterprise to support real-time or historical analysis of production operations and workflows for achieving production and business goals.

MES Solution Categories

Today MES comes in many different forms.  The MES market can be divided into three appropriate categories.  There are Machine-Centric, ERP-centric and Purpose-Driven, Process-Centric MES solutions.

Advantages of a Purpose-Driven, Process-Centric solution are:

  • Deeper integration with manufacturing workflows
  • Leverages production intelligence by offering:
    • Real-time notifications of a wide spectrum of issues or incidents that arise on the plant floor.
    • Historical production floor information is made available which may be analyzed for fine-tuning of production operations related to people, machines, material and processes.
  • Is not dependent on a particular ERP or machine system.

Pierfrancesco Manenti, VP of SCM World and Former Head of IDC Manufacturing Insights, EMEA, stated that,  "We are about to witness a new generation of manufacturing enterprises where operational processes on the plant floor – at the very heart of the enterprise-are considered the centerpiece of this transformation.  The new generation of manufacturing companies are now realizing that what transpires on the production floor should be an enterprise-wide focus for continuous process improvement and overall business success.”

Exploration of an evaluation team is essential because MES systems vary greatly in their role and contribution.   Buyers often attempt a fair evaluation process of a list of MES solutions and end up frustrated as they are trying to compare apples to oranges.  Business requirements should be the drivers for the decision of which type of system to buy, yet the lack of exposure to the variety of systems available should not result in shortsighted business requirements.  Do the homework of researching the types of systems available and build your requirements from a position of knowledge based on current information. In the end, MES systems can offer process improvements and efficiencies that would otherwise not be possible.

Do you want to learn more about MES and aligning business goals to improving production operations?

I recently presented “Leading Your Organization to Profitability Using a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)” as part of the “Operational Systems to Streamline Your Job Shop” session at FABTECH 2014.  Please click the button below to view the slides from my recent presentation.

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