The Early days of MES
The first Manufacturing Execution System (MES) hit the industrial scene in the 1970s. The scope was limited, as the early MES applications simply automated accounts. Over the past 45 years, MES functionality expanded from simple data collection applications into modern integrated systems that are foundational to today’s smart factories and digital manufacturing. MES applications have expanded to control most shop floor activities and are a key component of the order fulfillment process.
MES is Now Key to the Supply Chain
As MES functionality expanded to include order management, production planning, production floor, inventory, shipping, and invoicing, agile vendors created a modular design that allows customers to complement functionality Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems do not provide, or do not handle well. This modular agility allows customers to implement only the MES functionality they need to fill the gaps of their ERP-managed supply chain.
As the functional scope of the MES application has grown, data volume and velocity on the manufacturing floor have increased significantly. In the new MES environment, real-time data distribution requirements to and from the production floor have elevated the MES application to be the heart and soul of the production data management process. In this role, MES is a critical piece of an efficient customer supply chain process.
In recent years vendors have made a foundational technology shift in their MES offerings, which has been driven by leveraging new technologies to accommodate the covid remote worker paradigm shift. This has accelerated the transition of MES applications to Software as a service (SaaS) and Platform as a Serve (PaaS) products to meet the demands of the marketplace.
Data Integration is Key
Today, MES applications are the software layer that connects ERP systems to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) of the production shop floor. The MES takes data from production machinery, smart sensors, inventory robotics, condition monitoring, and integrates customer production orders to produce dashboard visibility to predict order completion and delivery dates, while also recording and reporting the actual quality and quantity measurements for individual production units.
The value of the modern MES is configurable interoperability that provides real-time data visibility. Seamless integration with production and business systems that provide accurate information to the management team is critical. Highly effective MES applications provide what is needed to make data-driven decisions that can be communicated to the shop floor for instant implementation.
MES Benefits and Key Evaluation Considerations
In Part 2 of our MES primer series, we will review the benefits of modern MES applications and key considerations when evaluating an MES application suite.