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Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is, in other words, a system of production implementation. Using information technology, software and automation elements, it allows collecting information directly from workstations in real time. MES, which until recently was a typical solution for industry, is more and more often used in logistics.

At the initial stage of development of MES systems, collecting information from production required the installation of additional sensors and controllers. In contrast, part of the Industry 4.0 concept is IT solutions (CPS – Cyber-Physical Systems), built into system components. This radically changed the requirements for MES.

Its suppliers remind that Manufacturing Execution System allows for quick and effective modelling and monitoring of processes. There is a possibility of integration with external systems (e.g. ERP, logistic systems), it allows to track products, components and raw materials, starting from placing an order, through the production implementation, and ending with shipment to the recipient.

MES is an effective tool for improving production logistics. Based on BOMs and operator reports, it allows you to adjust the number of materials at the production stations to actual needs. The software allows you to record and track the flow of components and finished products in the production hall. In this way, the company can maintain optimal stocks of work-in-progress. Thanks to the comprehensive control, the software allows to increase the efficiency of employees (registration of activities performed) and machines (faster reaction to faults and failures),” claims Quantum Software company (provider of the Qguar MES system).

Module taken from manufacturing plants has proven itself in a distribution centre.

Specialists agree – MES systems are an essential part of the Industry 4.0 concept, but in order to fulfil their role they need to integrate with the supply chain (Logistics 4.0) and its important components. E.g. communication (including with mobile devices) and analysis of large amounts of data (Big Data).

For example, WAP (Warehouse Advanced Planning) is a module created for planning logistics processes at LPP (clothing manufacturer and distributor), which has been used in intelligent factories so far as an important element of MES. The LPP distribution centre started to use the production version of this solution.  

LPP’s distribution strategy assumes simultaneous delivery of the new collection to all stores. This is a considerable planning challenge, especially with the dynamic growth of orders, as well as the company’s expansion into other markets. Looking for logistics planning solutions, LPP used a module that controls processes in modern factories.

“For anyone who has seen LPP’s distribution centre, the analogy to the highly automated production process is self-evident. Therefore, facing the challenge of streamlining the work planning process of the centre, we decided to draw on our experience from the industry, when we created solutions, among others, for the largest European automotive concerns,” says Arkadiusz Niemira, President of PSI Poland, the company which developed the solution.

On the basis of the production planning system, PSI Polska created a module, Warehouse Advanced Planning, which, after positive experiences with LPP, was incorporated into the PSIwms system standard.

“PSIwms provides a full range of functionalities necessary to properly control processes in a modern warehouse,” explains Arkadiusz Niemira.

WAP module plans the operation of sorters

The module automatically plans e.g. the work of warehouse sorters, using algorithms that process huge amounts of information. All of this happens in seconds.

Automatic planning has changed the roles and tasks of planners, who now monitor the process, making occasional manual changes to the plan. The order of tasks is predetermined, but – in case of unforeseen situations -, WAP users at warehouse stations can correct this plan, e.g. by moving operations to another sorter or changing the order of operations.

The module enables forecasting the number of employees who should handle orders processed by the warehouse on a given day in order to meet the planned shipment dates. Thanks to this, it is possible to deliver the collection to all showrooms on the same day.

Rapid decision-making is supported by a management panel, which allows, for example, to track the current implementation of the plan in management reports. It is possible to view the currently executed tasks, possible delays, planned breaks and sorter failures.

According to the solution provider, the development and implementation of WAP is proof that Industry 4.0 solutions, allowing for real-time analysis of large amounts of data and the use of algorithms optimizing machine operation, can be successfully used in Logistics 4.0. In fact, the general objective is to control all relevant storage tasks – from receipt of goods to dispatch.

Manufacturing Execution System makes it easy to monitor the flow of components

There are many more examples. Qguar MES was implemented in Mostva a few years ago. It is one of the European leaders in the logistics of new passenger cars and vans, operating also in Poland. It deals with international and national distribution of cars, freight forwarding, warehousing, as well as specialized assembly of equipment. It provides assembly services for car importers, dealers and their final customers. This includes the installation of accessories (e.g. GPS, upholstery) and adaptations of vehicles for special purposes (police, municipal services).

The company has to manage a huge number of components and varied tasks, such as installation work, transport planning. All this must be done in a timely manner, which entails the need to maintain continuity of supply.  The nature of the business requires multi-track planning, taking into account the specialisation of employees, equipment of assembly stations, or availability of assembly elements. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain the seriality of operations and the time allowed for the execution of orders by the company. In order to plan properly, on the one hand, and to supervise the assembly and production logistics, on the other hand, it was decided to implement the Qguar APS scheduling system and the Qguar MES production management system. They were integrated with ERP and Datacar – a proprietary company solution dedicated to the management of the entire life cycle of the vehicle and the exchange of data between individual systems (belonging also to contractors).

The reporting options in the MES make it easy to monitor events in the assembly hall and to analyse them later. An integrated production logistics module supports the component flow process. On the basis of the data recorded by the system, it is possible to build a genealogy of the performed assembly. To be more precise, it is possible to link the parts used, the activities performed and the employees with a specific order, identifying possible irregularities. Information between the planning and production departments flows immediately (delegated tasks get to the right employees more quickly, and planners gain knowledge about the progress of orders).

Manufacturing Execution System will show product genealogy

In the vicinity of Margonin there is Douve Egberts plant (one of the leaders on the coffee market, in Poland the company is known mainly for its Prima and Jacobs brands). Originally, the coffee roasting plant in Sułaszew was looking for a WMS class system supporting storage logistics. Later, it turned out to be useful to implement an IT solution that would streamline and accelerate the production planning process. MES was integrated with the SAP ERP and SCADA systems used by the company, which allowed for a full flow of information from the moment of delivery of raw materials to the exit of finished products. WMS, MES and APS allow for close cooperation of many divisions of the company. MES itself enables, for example, to collect information about the genealogy of the final product.

It informs about who produced what and when, as well as which raw materials and semi-finished products (with information about batch numbers, serial numbers) are included in the final product. In addition, the genealogy contains information about article attributes (characteristic parameters) and samples taken for quality control. All this is supposed to help minimise losses. MES also enables the supervision and planning of product quality tests.

Marek Wiązowski from Quantum Software points out that in each case it is worth following the products in the logistics chain.

“Product genealogy is a collection of information, including dates, used components, production and logistic operations, which are recorded and transferred along with the goods from the moment of manufacture to delivery to the final recipient,” says Wiązowski.

He points out that product genealogy requires a range of techniques, procedures and tools, among which computer programs such as MES, as well as warehouse and transport management software, are playing an increasingly important role. Information on the product should be collected from the start of production.  To collect information about the history of the product effectively, a unique marking is used, most often performed with the use of barcode labels in RFID technology.

Photo: Pixabay

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