MES is designed for production or shop floor operations. It enables manufacturers to better manage:
- Food safety
- Equipment and plant maintenance
- Product and process traceability
- Production scheduling
- Labor and materials management
- Process control data
The term MES was introduced by the Academy of Management Review in the early ‘90s in response to changing manufacturing needs driven by globalization and increased demand for customized production. The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association International was later charged with defining MES benchmark standards in order to address its complexity and advise on its execution.
Through the last two decades, MES has developed into a centralized control system that connects management (sales, marketing, human resources, finance, purchasing, etc.) to the factory’s operational arm (equipment and other shop floor resources). Using MES, manufacturers can better control and manage all operations along the value chain to ensure successful fulfilment of clients’ requirements and meet their expectations in terms of reactivity, efficiency, traceability, food safety, quality, cost, deadlines and flexibility.2
MES has also been used for improving efficiency of high-speed and highly automated processes in various industries such as beverages, brewing, milling, baking and other consumer packaged goods, as well as in pharma and biotechnology.
How does MES work?
MES relies on three main components in performing its functions:3
1. Interface between production, supervision and administration
MES links Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and automation systems such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) to the production floor environment. Such connection and synchronization increase the effectiveness and speed of data communication from production floor to finance, logistics, purchasing and other departments. By eliminating the need for paperwork flow, spreadsheet generation and reporting, supply chain information can easily flow and be shared on a real-time basis across the milling or baking organization.
2. Production execution and control
MES receives customer orders from the Materials Requirement Planning (MRP) tool in the ERP system and converts them into production floor orders. Then, they are scheduled and sequenced according to production lines. Using MES ensures that resources such as machinery and equipment, personnel and raw materials are available on time and in the required quantities. In addition, production can be better monitored and aligned with process control systems.
3. Data consolidation and information flow
By filtering, analyzing, validating and saving data in a structured manner, MES can transform timely information from the production environment to management staff. By providing real-time visibility, MES allows for production process modifications and control as well as overall improvement of manufacturing processes.
MES can be applied to highly automated mills and bakeries in which economies of scale and high volumes provide the capability to enhance profits while reducing production cost. This system has been implemented in modern highly automated mills and bakery plants which operate in a continuous mode. In small- and medium-sized production companies, the cost of information technologies such as MES may be too high to justify.
Migrating to MES provides millers and bakers with many benefits such as:
- Reducing waste by matching grain and flour supply to bread production demands.
- Quick processing and delivery of sales orders
- More accurate production scheduling and ingredients’ batching
- Reduction in production cycle and distribution times
- Better response to peaks and valleys in inventory management and logistics efficiency
- Ensuring sufficient labor resources
- Improved equipment reliability and decreased failure rate
- Improvement of overall equipment efficiency
- Reduction in setup time, downtime and cleaning time
- Migration to cloud, virtual or paperless documentation of quality, food safety and production processes
- McClellan, M. “Applying Manufacturing Execution Systems”. The Saint Lucie Press/APICS Series on Resource Management, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl, 1997, 181 pp.
- B. Sáenz de Ugartea, A. Artibab, and R. Pellerina. “Manufacturing Execution System – A Literature Review.” Journal of Production Planning & Control, Taylor & Francis, Vol. 20, No. 6, September 2009, pp. 525–539.
- A.C. Deuel. “The Benefits of A Manufacturing Execution System for Plantwide Automation.” ISA Transactions, Elsevier Science B.V., 33 (1994): 113-124.