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MESs (Manufacturing Execution Systems) have matured in the last two years, and are now at the forefront of many companies’ endeavours to improve performance. To achieve this, MESs have been developed into a manufacturing solution based on holistic studies of business requirements. So what exactly is an MES and how does it benefit discrete and […]

MESs (Manufacturing Execution Systems) have matured in the last two years, and are now at the forefront of many companies’ endeavours to improve performance.

To achieve this, MESs have been developed into a manufacturing solution based on holistic studies of business requirements.

So what exactly is an MES and how does it benefit discrete and process manufacturers?

An MES is a suite of software residing between planning and manufacturing/control systems, not wholly belonging to either the MIS department or to plant engineers. It was seen – and often marketed – as a `one size fits all’ solution which could be slotted into a gap between the shop floor and executive systems.

Now it’s a system which marries finite capacity scheduling with real time plant floor control, resulting in manageable, usable work-to information. What MESs deliver is tighter process control, faster throughput, improved delivery performance and lower costs.

Also, if the MES can improve the manufacturing end of the supply chain – making production faster, more efficient, free from contamination – and can synchronise the flow of raw materials to end product, then the producer gets closer to the customer.

The process sector is turning to the MES to support the improvement curve by collecting and documenting real time data to offer analysis of the current process situation. It’s fundamental to improved utilisation of plant, materials and quality control.

So what does the future hold for MESs? We see the MES, when properly integrated and utilised, facilitating the transformation of a manufacturing site into a world class organisation, with better control of manufacturing and with an efficient supply chain.

It is now incumbent on the MES vendors to further integrate plant-wide systems with the MES to synchronise manufacturing and business processes, delivering measurable benefits and facilitating tighter supply chains and more efficient plant.