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What is a Manufacturing Execution System?

A key component of lean manufacturing methodology is using a manufacturing execution system for monitoring, tracking and controlling the manufacturing process. Although this isn’t the only manufacturing resource planning method that businesses lean on, it is a key industrial manufacturing solution  that plays an important role within an overall lean manufacturing methodology strategy.

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) monitor, track, document and control the manufacturing process from raw materials all the way to the finished product. An MES provides the data that decision-makers need for implementing a lean manufacturing methodology and ensuring optimal efficiency.


MES: A Key Industrial Manufacturing Solution

Lean is a manufacturing resource planning method that stresses just-in-time manufacturing and inventory and constant improvement to make production and resource planning more efficient. An MES plays a key role in this lean manufacturing methodology by improving manufacturing coordination and execution.

Where MES helps with a lean manufacturing methodology:

1. Improved Quality Control.

MES transmits quality control information in real-time. This helps manufacturers halt production and make adjustments at the time of a quality control issue, saving on waste, overages and re-work.

2. Reduced Inventory.

Inventory management and input stocks are more precise with MES because the system updates inventory data in real-time based on new production, scrap and non-conforming materials. This shrinks excess and work-in-progress inventory, and brings added visibility to purchasing, scheduling and shipping departments.

3. Better Uptime.

MES creates realistic production schedules that accurately balance human resource, equipment and material needs for maximum uptime on the shop floor. Included in these calculations are scheduled maintenance for a reduction in equipment failure and improved overall efficiency.

4. Digitized Shop Floor.

Paper is eliminated with an MES, cutting down on the chance of human error and making manufacturing data immediately available to decision-makers for real-time adjustments.

5. Increased Tracking.

MES serializes and tracks products from beginning to end, grouping products, parts and batches with their associated data. This helps with regulatory requirements, and it improves quality standards. 


The Core Features of MES

While MES as an industrial manufacturing solution has evolved over time, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association defines 11 core features that businesses will find in all MES solutions.

  • Resource allocation and status. MES tracks and allocates resources in real-time, from machines and materials to labor.
  • Operations scheduling. MES optimizes manufacturing performance through scheduling, timing, and sequencing activities based on priorities and resource capacity. 
  • Production units dispatch. MES manages production data in real-time for more precise adjustments and production dispatch.
  • Document control. MES manages and distributes manufacturing documents, including work instructions, diagrams, standard operating procedures, and batch records. These are all editable within the system.
  • Data collection and acquisition. MES collects manufacturing and inventory data in real-time for improved decision-making.
  • Labor management. MES manages employee schedules, applicable staff qualifications and authorizations for automated, efficient labor management.
  • Quality management. MES monitors production for quality deviations and exceptions, improving quality control significantly.
  • Process management. MES oversees the entire production process and ensures correct processes are followed from work order all the way through to the finished product.
  • Maintenance management. MES helps shop floor managers spot potential equipment issues before they happen and flags equipment for maintenance.
  • Product tracking. MES enables product tracking based on serial number, and it keeps an accurate audit trail of all materials and finished products both for efficiency and meeting government regulations.
  • Performance analysis. MES helps decision-makers compare manufacturing results with KPIS for identifying process weaknesses and potential system improvements.

For businesses looking for a manufacturing resource planning method  that embraces lean manufacturing methodology, MES checks all the right boxes with its core feature set.


The Relationship Between MES and ERP

For those familiar with enterprise resource planning solutions (ERP), many of these core features might sound familiar. So is MES a substitute for ERP within a manufacturing operation? And how does MES relate to material resource planning solutions (MRP)? [link to MRP article]

While MES, MRP, and ERP do overlap, each plays a distinct role as an industrial manufacturing solution within a larger lean manufacturing methodology. ERP helps a manufacturing business determine what products to manufacture, and assists with overseeing the business overall. MES determines how to produce those products with less waste and increased profit. MRP makes sure that manufacturing operations have the material resources needed for making these products in the specified quantities.

All three distinct solutions work together as an integrated ecosystem for managing efficient manufacturing operations. MES and MRP either are modules within a larger ERP solution, or they are standalone solutions that connect with a company’s ERP solution.

For more on this relationship, or how technology can make your manufacturing operation more lean, contact one of our experienced consultants at (801) 642-0123 or by writing us at info@nbs-us.com.

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