MES and Industry 4.0

Author: Paul Henriques in: MES

December 8, 2023

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Industry 4.0

Modern manufacturing requires a collaborative effort between your staff and your tools in a structured way. In other words, each team member is an active part of the internal network, where they:

  • Collect information on their tasks
  • Filter relevant data
  • Pass on results to relevant parties

While it is important for staff to communicate this information to all, relying solely on human action can quickly lead to errors, since manually documenting each action is tedious, time consuming, and error prone. Allowing the communication network to fall entirely on manual processes will lead to systemic failures, decreased productivity, and global inefficiencies.

Automating the data capture and communication is the reason that the Manufacturing Execution System, or MES, was created. With the crucial role of managing your processes in real-time on the shop floor and communicating requirements and results to the other teams, most companies are spending large sums to get the most out of their MES, including improving the MES capabilities and decreasing data gaps.

What is an MES

A Manufacturing Execution System is a collection of hardware and software components that help you manage and optimize your production processes from sales order to ship out. It does this by maintaining an accurate and current record of your shop actions and uses that data to report relevant information to you. By having access to better, real-time, data, you can respond to shop floor activities as they occur.

An MES helps with all your processes, like order scheduling, product revisions, maintenance management, staff management, performance analysis, and everything in between. Any task that happens on your shop floor will be tracked by your MES.

In most firms, their MES has become the core of their manufactory that helps them make time-sensitive and critical decisions about the production line. When paired with a best-in-class ERP (or as part of an ERPII), you have a single database that provides a single point of truth for all your operations, ensuring that the decision you make is the best one.

MES Applications in Industry 4.0

All these benefits mean that there is a need for well made manufacturing execution systems in the new industrial age, or Industry 4.0. Because of this, there are many software firms that can offer you a usable MES that will suit your firm. Most of them are separate units, that is, a separate MES that can communicate with your other software systems. Other times, they are costly add-ons that you can purchase from your current ERP provider. Finally, there are software firms that ship the MES as part of their all-in-one manufacturing ERP, or MERP, package that is built from the ground up to interact with all your business units. These last units tend to be best, since you can be sure that there will be no conflicts or data errors due to transferring between 3rd party systems, while also cutting your costs since there are no expensive add-ons.

Manufacturers around the world are experiencing the benefits of an integrated MES and ERP system that is allowing them unprecedented knowledge of all their operations and control of their inputs and outputs.

MES + ERP Integration Benefits

Of course, an ERP or an MES are not silver bullets that are made to end all your problems. These are tools that help you make better use of your tools. And in this day of global competition and uncertainty, knowing what you have available can be the biggest difference. By embedding your different business units with the right MERP solution, you can improve your efficiency and productivity.

Also, by having an MES as part of your ERP, you can ensure that your management team is contributing to your firm efficiency, while improving their efficiency and efficacy. Because your data is immediately available and provided from a single source of truth, everyone that needs to know will be in the know.

An MES will also help you consolidate your production planning, mapping, and process implementation phases by generating data that you can use to improve your tasks as part of PDCA.

PDCA cycle

Shop Monitors and your MES

In order for an MES to be truly useful, you need to add shop monitors to your work centers that can communicate with your MES. These small computers attached to a work center will automate many of the MES tasks in a way that improves reporting, cuts errors, improves transparency, and increases your floor overview from anywhere.

Conclusion

To summarize, an MES provides you with a clear view of your shop floor. This, in turn, allows you to make the right decisions to improve your productivity and profit. An MERP is an ERP that contains a built-in MES. Having a system like this that was built from the ground up by manufacturers and for manufacturers grants you all the benefits of planning from the ERP plus the to-the-minute view of an MES which allows you to unlock further benefits in other areas of your firm.

With global pressure to the manufacturing sector from competition, conflict, and staffing shortages, it has never been more important to maximize your resources. To do this, you need an all-in-one MERP with everything built into one single unit. You need a partner that has decades of experience in manufacturing and is actively developing cost-effective and clever tools, both software and hardware, that will help you meet your deliverables.

Contact OnRamp Solutions today for more information on how we can help. We know manufacturing and we want to work with you so that whatever you make, we will help you make it better.

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