Manufacturing operations have always been complex and costly. As products become more intricate and complicated, the tools needed to control the many aspects of the operation become essential. Manufacturing Execution System (MES) applications are designed to do just that by coordinating the planning, monitoring, and execution of every part of the operation from order release to shipping.
Manufacturing Execution Systems 4 Top-Level Goals
- Improve Quality
- Increase Productivity
- Manage Compliance
- Generate Operational Flexibility
Before we take a deeper dive into each of the 4 MES' goals, let's take a moment to consider the fact that the manufacturing realm has moved beyond its initial aim to produce quality goods. Nowadays, customers' needs have grown and they demand more than just a valuable product received at a pre-arranged time. Manufacturing has to provide real-time data to fuel further customers' logistics, as well as supply them with the requisite traceability for every component used in goods' production.
Effectively implementing an MES will drive increasing value to each of the above-mentioned goals, but to eventually generate ROI and increase a company's competitiveness it is critical to invoke Industry 4.0 potential.
1. Improving Quality With An MES
Access to machine and process data allows engineers to better understand operational limitations and process behavior. For example, the
digital work instructions embedded in the MES tools will reduce manual errors and automate many other manual activities. Ultimately, the work instructions' digitization will allow for higher quality output.
All the data and control will also better contain process exceptions.
Real-time machine data, as we mentioned before, allows engineers to more deeply incorporate accurate benchmarking. Also, the Statistical Process Control (SPC) implementation promotes better process performance through improvements in process stability.
SPC or other monitoring can tell engineers a lot about upstream processes. Therefore, by incorporating and streamlining returns, servicing, and disposition, you are essentially benefiting from continuous improvement.
Once again, real-time shipment status visibility and availability promote lower delivery times. The obtained control and management of shipping and receiving functions are crucial to keeping up with the rapidly changing marketplace demands.
2. Increasing Productivity With An MES
When fully exploiting the MES' potential, manufacturers expect greater productivity, but what it actually translates into? Let's break down the exact benefits stemming from achieving this goal.
- Increased Automation and Volume
- Reduced Work In Process
- Reduced Cycle Time
- Reduced Cost
All these advantages bear real quantifiable ROI, which is primarily sought by manufacturers. However, there are further gains to look for when using an Industry 4.0 compatible MES, such as:
- Production scheduling and full visibility, achieved with integrated live KPIs available in VKS Pro.
- Machine status and alarms overview which helps faster address any arising impediments.
- OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness
- Paperless, more efficient management and documentation
- Real-time cost analysis including simulation
Here, it is important to mention that the last two capabilities, paperless shop-floor and real-time analysis, bring an additional valuable asset. We identified and extensively discussed this benefit in our last article - 5 Benefits of Paperless Manufacturing Audits
3. Managing Compliance With An MES
Transitioning to digital systems promotes a more accurate and rapid resource administration. Additionally, the improved ability to attain and maintain regulatory compliance - (ISO, FDA) streamlines all business processes. It is all possible due to massive data collection and its interlinking ability, as seen in the VKS DataConnect.
Using an MES gives you the ability to immediately access real-time data while holding version control, and be prepared to quickly produce this data on a regulatory agency's demand.
4. Generating Operational Flexibility With An MES
The ability to quickly adjust course, implement improvements, and communicate across the enterprise is another gain of using an adequately company-fitted MES.
Having any work order details readily available at any time lets you better prioritize and manage production orders.
Real-time personnel training produces a flexible workforce. In, Why Cross-Training Employees is Easier with VKS, we clearly identified at least three major benefits of having visual work instructions delivered digitally to the shop floor. One of these benefits certainly acts as enhancing operational flexibility.
When And Where to Implement an MES
As you can see, integrating an effective MES can create positive outcomes that all contribute to the bottom line. These benefits may vary based on industry and process complexity, but really the improvements can generally be expected across any industry. For example, MES is successfully used in discrete manufacturing industries such as Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Consumer Goods, and in process manufacturing as well.
In fact, proper implementation of an MES will not stop at the MES. Vertically integrating the MES with your ERP and even with shop-floor solutions like VKS can create a streamlined solution that will allow your company to scale quickly.
With contributions from Shannon Bennett.