MES – Manufacturing Execution System
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What is MES
Manufacturing Execution System is a collaboration between manufacturing planning (MRP) and the way the plant floor is organized. If we compare manufacturing to the nervous system, then MRP can be seen as the brain and MES as the nerves. Without MES, the hands do not know what the brain wants and the brain does not know what the hands are doing.
MES consists of several aspects:
- Providing workers with information that is required to start and execute manufacturing
- Providing management with an overview of the progress of manufacturing orders
- Quality management
- Collecting statistics for production performance analysis
What MES is not
Quite often, MES is seen as a set of sensors or detectors. They must collect data automatically and send it somewhere.
Actually, this is an oversimplification. MES is much broader. It moves the information between manufacturing planning and execution in both directions, while sensors only collect the data. Also, technical tools do not represent or analyze the collected information.
Of course, sensors can be integrated into MES, but they are not the core part. Information can be collected in many ways that complement and verify each other.
ERP and MES
While many ERP software packages for small and medium sized businesses claim that they are suitable for manufacturing, actually, this is true only to a certain extent. They may have modules that are generally useful for most businesses, like inventory (stock) management, or CRM. But unless they focus on manufacturing, they do not include manufacturing execution systems.
On the contrary, the MRP systems are, from the very beginning, resource planning software that focuses on manufacturers. Because of that, and in addition to the production planning module, it usually has a special environment for workers on the shop floor. A special interface with increased text size that can work on computers, tablets and other hand-held devices, MES is a convenient way for staff to receive tasks and report progress. Reported information is immediately available to management (production progress), and it is possible to see performance indicators, like OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) in real time.
Having actual information and using it allows for increased efficiency, decreased reaction speed, improved processes and customers’ satisfaction.
MES example: MRPEasy
MRPEasy is simple, yet powerful, resource planning software for small and midsize manufacturers. For real time reporting from the manufacturing shop floor, MRPEasy has a special interface, named internet-kiosk.
While internet-kiosk tries to show as little information as possible, in order not to overwhelm workers with excess numbers and buttons, it contains all that is needed to perform tasks:
- A list of tasks that are assigned to the worker
- The ability to search tasks by multiple parameters
- 3 buttons only to report the progress of manufacturing (Start, Pause, and Stop)
- The field to enter the number of items that are made.
A simple interface and functionality that is selected for workers only, internet-kiosk is extremely intuitive and eliminates the need for training.
Such an environment makes MRPEasy belong to MRP+MES class of software systems.