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Manufacturing Execution System is, in other words, a system of a production implementation. Using information technology, software and automation elements, it allows collecting information directly from workstations in real time. MES is responsible for ensuring the highest possible quality of production.

The implementation of a production management system starts with the analysis and use of a standard product. In other words, the consultant and the client have at their disposal a system that has specific capabilities, functions and data. What is important is the consultant’s expert knowledge of the products at his disposal and knowledge of the specificity of the production process and the client’s industry. Then the production management system is configured in such a way as to meet the client’s requirements. However, if the configured functionalities and interfaces are not enough, the programmers are here to help,” explains Piotr Becela, production control systems consultant at PSI Polska.

Queris specialists stipulate that in the era of Industry 4.0 computerisation of the company is inevitable, but the development of the company must take place in stages and in a thoughtful way. So how to recognise the time when a company can afford to implement a fully professional tool such as MES?

In theory, systems of this class can be implemented in any plant, regardless of its size, industry or type of manufacturing processes.

However, in practice, many such “blind” implementations would be unreasonable and completely unprofitable, therefore, in order to talk about the use of the MES system, one must first consider whether there are any preconditions justifying its implementation. Among the most important aspects to be analysed is the size of the company and its machinery pool. For small companies, the implementation of a manufacturing execution system does not pay off at all.

Small workshops and smaller plants with a simple structure can be successfully managed using simple IT tools. However, you have to think about buying an MES system when the company is already a medium-sized plant and the machinery pool consists of at least a dozen machines or several production lines.

The type and volume of production is very important, and the need to use MES appears in repeatable, mass, large- or medium-series production

Queris analysts also deny the common opinions that the need to implement the MES system grows with the degree of automation of the plant (there are also statements that MES is suitable only for fully automated companies). Even lines that are not fully automated or are manually operated can (and sometimes must) use this type of IT tools.

Automation affects the way data is recorded, but not the need for it. If a company has older machines, they can be upgraded by installing appropriate sensors, which will also automatically supply the MES system with the relevant data. Information can also be entered manually into the system by operators using customised panels and terminals.

Automation is a powerful ally in improving production efficiency, but its absence does not mean that there is no need for systematic support for the implementation of production. It is important to remember that with MES, data can be recorded in various ways – directly from machines, indirectly via sensors or manually,” Queris explains.

According to Queris, a noticeable and troublesome lack of information coming from production can be considered a symptom suggesting the implementation of MES solution is needed. The lack of data on actual efficiency, current condition of machines or current production progress not only proves to be an irritating inconvenience but also makes it impossible to make certain decisions.

Reliable information is therefore essential. In many cases, it is the Manufacturing Execution System that solves the most serious problems (finally, a reliable picture of the situation is obtained), and the APS solution implemented later is the next step in improving the efficiency of the entire plant.

Many people believe that when in manufacturing companies processes are not controlled with the use of IT solutions, attempts are made to classify them in an ERP system. Meanwhile, the role of ERP and MES in a company is diametrically different and one system cannot substitute the other. An attempt to handle the production processes with an ERP system may, in fact, prove a great need to use the MES software supporting the production efficiency management.

Photo: Pixabay/Joergelman

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