MES Solutions: Picking Up Where ERP Leaves Off

April 28, 2017 //

ERP systems are great contributors to running businesses and helping with front and back office support, but they can leave you stranded for solutions on the shop floor.  Most ERP systems offer little support for the production process or material tracking through work in process to finished goods inventory. Kanban software  is typically non-existent in most ERP solutions and a quality management system seems to only be an afterthought.

Shop floor software, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or Manufacturing Operations Management  (MOM) solutions pick up where ERP systems leave off.  It’s like using your glasses versus binoculars to view a concert or a baseball game.  The glasses help you have a better view, but if you use binoculars, you can see much more detail. Managing the build process, enabling product traceability and building quality into the product are enabled through effective Manufacturing Execution Systems.

MES software and cloud based solutions like Paper-Less’ MV2 can close the loop for what we like to call the “Life Cycle of Data.”  By feeding pertinent production data back to your ERP system, MES Software is able to improve the accuracy of the planning process and supplies accurate results for job costing, payroll and inventory systems.  By pushing the collection of data back to its source, it reduces the time that would otherwise be wasted in tracking down errors in production, labor, attendance and inventory.

A modern shop floor management software product includes effective material tracking systems and inventory management.  This reduces the need for processes like cycle counting which were introduced because of the significant deviations in inventory accuracy discovered during annual physical inventories.

ERP is no doubt the core business system allowing manufacturing companies to manage a host of processes and procedures for their front and back office but manufacturing execution is where real cost benefits can be derived.  It is said that you cannot manage a process until you can measure it, and you cannot measure it without good data coming in, but too many companies have compromised their need to track mission critical data because historically it has been too burdensome to do so.  But it does not have to be that difficult, and no one should compromise their expectations on what can be achieved through effective production management software and performance management tools for manufacturing.  Instead they should heighten their expectations of MES software’s ability to collect data in unimposing and non-disruptive ways.

The time has come for manufacturing executives to expect the same level of process support and systems integration from manufacturing execution systems that has become expected of ERP systems serving the office.  The days of splintered systems and silos of information across Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, and niche solutions that integrate the needs of production seamlessly with the needs of accounting, finance, planning, and customer service through tight integration with ERP.

The challenge lies with getting IT and accounting professionals to truly understand the needs of manufacturing, as well as getting manufacturing professionals to understand how to respect and leverage the advantages ERP provides them in managing the manufacturing processes.  Too often a company’s use of ERP evolves to a tool that exclusively serves accounting and financing leaving manufacturing to fend for them.  Hence the emergence of standalone systems and database silos created in Excel or Access.  Look closely and try to apply the advantages that true MES solutions bring to manufacturing performance management.

As efficient as manufacturers have become in recent years, there is little low hanging fruit remaining, and the next steps in process improvements will be made through tuning things that are already done well to do them better.  The contributions of MES systems are real and evident with strong evaluation processes.  Invest time wisely into defining your requirements and know the business value an MES solution can offer.  These efforts will pay dividends for years to come.

Download our customer case study for more information about how the Paper-Less MV2 MES solution can help your company.

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