Manufacturing Execution System

Author: Paul Henriques in: MES

July 15, 2022

Manufacturing Execution System

With the constant goal of doing more with less, you need to improve in all your areas, including how you execute your production. There are many acronyms that you have likely heard recently that relate to productivity improvements. Stuff like:

  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner), which helps with planning your resource allocation and usage
  • QMS (Quality Management System), which concerns itself with managing your quality
  • WMS (Warehouse Management System), which helps you control your warehouse and inventory

Another important tool for your digital transformation is a manufacturing execution system, or MES.

What is MES

An MES is a system that connects your work centers and fixtures with your central planning unit and continually monitors their operations. It is your control center, monitoring the process speed, parts used, setup time, etc. It monitors everything and feeds the information back to your ERP, which then delivers it to you so that you can review and refine to improve your processes.

In other words: A good MES is integrated with your many other digital systems and uses digital technology, like shop monitors, scanners, and vision systems to improve your manufacturing productivity, reporting, and quality.

MES Interaction with other systems

MES Functionality

MES functionality has been standardized by the MESA-11 model. This has set the core functionality of any MES at 11 core functions:

  1. Resource status – Displays and tracks status of your resources and their usage in the production process.
  2. BOM – Groups parts with their manufacturing recipe. This ensures that staff will know their required components and can be used to ensure compliance.
  3. Routing – Displays your part routing, including subcontractor steps. This improves manufacturing transparency.
  4. HR – Helps manage your staff and their skillsets. This ensures you have the right people for the right job when you need them.
  5. Operations – Provides staff a complete view of planned production work orders, including routing. This helps to improve transparency and decrease communication errors.
  6. Production – Sends and receives production data from the ERP and central database. This ensures accurate, consistent, and current production data.
  7. Quality – Provides a way to ensure your quality is under control, including quality deviations and exceptions. By feeding online inspection data to your central systems, this can greatly decrease quality issues.
  8. Maintenance – Improves machine maintenance with improved preventive maintenance scheduling and machine operator visual inspection skills. More advanced machines can also provide predictive maintenance information.
  9. Central Database Tracks and collects data from all your working parts and presents it in easy to use and easy to understand reports and dashboards. MES that are a module of a larger ERP system will have better reporting and data tools available.
  10. Documents – Maintains a central repository of all your documents that are available for anyone that needs them. The repository must include instructions, drawings, notes, etc.  This saves your staff time with digitally ready archives that can be accessed anywhere.
  11. KPI analysis – Provides key performance indicator data like rework, scrap, process capability, OEE, and more. This crucial information helps you understand how your production process is working and how it could be improved.

MES in Action

As stated, while having an ERP system is a crucial part of manufacturing, MES complements ERP by being another digital tool that will help in your continued success.

While your ERP system handles integrating your business units along with planning your capacity and resources, your MES works with your ERP to provide a control layer on top of your current production and manufacturing. The ERP plans what you need and the MES shows you how you are making it.

This means that an MES is an important part of the productivity puzzle. It provides you with real-time data from your shop floor at various stages and translates ERP information into usable and plannable operation instructions. It is another layer in an efficient shop.

MES data collection

Certain smaller enterprises can see the benefit of an MES but may be unwilling to commit the added resources to acquire another application to use alongside their other digital tools, like ERP. In this regard, it should be worth looking into ERP system that come with an MES included as an integrated module.

Companies that have implemented an MES alongside their ERP, or started using the MES within their existing ERP system have seen 30% improvement to their OEE and up to a 50% reduction in scrap.


An MES is a crucial element in monitoring your production line. This, in turn, allows you to improve your production efficiency and efficacy. The MES is made to work in tandem with your ERP and other digital tools and can be enhanced with new industry 4.0 technology like shop monitors, scanners, and other tools.

When shopping for tools to digitize your manufactory, look for tools that are integrated into the ERP, or where extra modules can be easily integrated into your ERP.

All together, the greater access to shop-floor data provided by an MES combined with the planning power that comes with a better ERP, your firm can keep its competitive advantage.



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