What is MES?

A manufacturing execution system (MES) is an information system that connects, monitors, and controls production systems and data flows on the manufacturing floor. The main goal of any aspect of MES is to gain visibility in the execution of manufacturing operations and improve production output.

An MES helps achieve that goal by tracking and gathering accurate, real-time data about the production lifecycle, beginning with order release until the product delivery stage for finished goods.

The MES collects data about product genealogy, performance, traceability, material management and work in progress (WIP) and other plant activities as they occur. This granular real-time data, in turn, allows decision-makers to understand the current settings of the factory floor and better optimize the production process. The design of the user interface can be a key to getting the desired results from the system.

Manufacturing execution system architecture

The ANSI/ISA-95 standard merged an MES model with the Purdue Reference Model, creating a functional hierarchy. In this model, MES was established at the intermediate level three, between enterprise resource planning (ERP) at level four and process control at levels zero, one and two.

What makes the MES system critical is that it serves as a functional layer between the ERP and production and process control systems on the factory floor, providing real-time visibility, flexibility, and insight into how best to improve manufacturing operations.

In addition to these core functions, an MES enables manufacturers to overcome the challenge of regulatory compliance set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, medical device class, and biotechnology, as well as biologics developers and contract research organizations.

MES maintains an “as-built” or device history record (DHR) for each product unit and batch by collecting data, processes and outcomes of the manufacturing process for compliance with Title 21 CFR Part 11 and Part 820 of the FDA regulations.

Additionally, an MES can benefit both discrete manufacturing for industries such as aerospace, defense and automotive, and process manufacturing for chemical, oil and gas, power and energy, and pulp and paper industries.

MES Benefits and Functionality

MES may operate across many different areas, capturing, processes and outcomes of the entire manufacturing process. This includes:

  • Data collection and aggregation for analysis;
  • Quality management;
  • Management of product definitions across the product life-cycle;
  • Resource scheduling;
  • Order execution and dispatch;
  • Staff and resource management;
  • Document control to eliminate paper and audit information;
  • Interface to ERP (Enterprise resource planning) and to business systems such as WMS (Warehouse Management System) and CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System);
  • Production analysis and downtime management for overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), product quality, or materials track and trace.

What you can do with MES

  • Track performance, availability and quality in real-time with dashboards, scoreboards, and mobile
  • Eliminate paper and the overhead, errors, and risk associated with it on the plant floor
  • Pull down orders easily from ERP and track KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator) like OEE in real-time
  • Digitize production reporting and alert key personnel on variances
  • Automate manual processes
  • Have a single view and user interface for ERP, production, quality, labor and maintenance
  • Integrate to any PLC, CNC, test equipment, scales, RFID, etc.
  • Have a “black box flight recorder” and enable IoT
  • Simplify all production confirmations to ERP and do confirmations automatically from machines

Industry 4.0 and MES Systems

Implementing MES (Manufacturing Execution System) software in your manufacturing could be part of your Industry 4.0 transformation. Industry 4.0 is about implementing technologies that gather data to drive intelligent action in the physical world. Technologies that deliver connectivity, visibility, and intelligence to facilitate productivity and agility.

To simplify, it’s about technology that is connected, which means everyone can see what’s going on (past, present, and future). Digital Transformation and digitizing the factory to optimize capability and reduce manual processes so the manufacturing team can focus on creating more value through analysis (not guesswork).

Connected machines can collect a tremendous volume of data that can provide insight into maintenance, performance, and waste issues. Unifying this data without complicated system integrations is the basis for a successful MES and Industry 4.0 implementation. Unified data can be analyzed to identify patterns and insights that would be impossible for a human to do in a reasonable timeframe. Industry 4.0 offers the opportunity for manufacturers to optimize their operations quickly and efficiently by knowing what needs attention.

Machine Learning, Data Science and Predictive Analytics, are the new tools for better understanding and results.

INS3 can assist you no matter where you are at on your MES and Industry 4.0 Journey, Let’s get started together:

Reduce Downtime, Improve Quality, Track Production

Open & Flexible Solutions for Industry 4.0 & MES Intelligence

We help Manufacturing companies gain visibility and achieve operational improvements. We augment your current architecture with Open and Layered technology that can fit your landscape and give you scalable capabilities to connect to any data source and provide visual applications to optimize your operations.

MES Glossary of Terms

MES, like most technologies, has a particular vocabulary associated with it! See below the most common terms:

ERP system: ERP stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning” and refers to a type of software or system used by a business to plan and manage daily activities such as supply chain, manufacturing, services, financials and other processes.

MESA-11: The original “MESA-11” model was published in 1996.  This model indicated 11 core functions of a manufacturing execution system with relationships to external enterprise systems and functional areas.  This model depicts what, at the time, was the MESA view of the functions within a manufacturing execution system, including scheduling and sequencing, maintenance, and quality.

ANSI/ISA-95 standard: ANSI/ISA-95, or ISA-95 as it is more commonly referred, is an international standard from the International Society of Automation for developing an automated interface between enterprise and control systems. This standard has been developed for global manufacturers. It was developed to be applied in all industries, and in all sorts of processes, like batch processes, continuous and repetitive processes.

OEE: OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is the gold standard for measuring manufacturing productivity. It identifies which percentage of the planned production time was actually productive – that means a OEE score of 100% had no downtime, only perfect production.

SCADA: SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) is the name for the systems that monitor, do supervisory control, handle alarms, relay alerts and collect data from industrial processes.

Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics is the process of using data analytics to make predictions based on data. This process uses data along with analysis, statistics, and machine learning techniques to create a predictive model for forecasting future events.