Do You Need A Manufacturing Execution System?


There are so many buzzwords in manufacturing philosophy that it can be difficult to decide which solutions are worth adopting. Manufacturing Execution System (MES), refers to software that helps manufacturers identify, evaluate and react to production problems in real time. Sounds good, right? As with a lot of things in manufacturing, it’s not that simple. In this post, we will dig a little deeper into Manufacturing Execution Systems so that you can decide if you need an MES in your manufacturing process..

What is a Manufacturing Execution System?

A Manufacturing Execution system is an Information Technology system that improves the production process. According to the Manufacturing Execution System Association (MESA), Manufacturing Execution Systems should perform 11 core functions:

  1. Operations management. Allow everyone to see planned production orders and their production routing in one central location to reduce or eliminate miscommunication errors.
  2. Dispatching production units. Get real-time production data from the shop floor to the top floor and vice versa.
  3. Product tracking and genealogy. Group final parts or batches with all their corresponding manufacturing data to ensure (government or industry) compliance.
  4. Labor management. Keep track of skills or authorizations employees require at each step in the production process so no one is unqualified for what they are doing.
  5. Quality management. Track quality deviations and exceptions in product.
  6. Maintenance management. Plan preventive machine maintenance at optimal times to reduce downtime and production interruptions.
  7. Data collection and acquisition. Track and gather essential data as needed in real time.
  8. Process management. Be able to trace product all the way through production and provide process routing and operational sequencing.
  9. Performance analysis. Have access to analytics that calculate key performance indicators so you can find areas needing improvement.
  10. Document control. Eliminate time wasted looking for important documents by providing a central location where they can be accessed as needed.
  11. Resource allocation and status. Know which and how resources are used in the production process through tracking capabilities.

Drawbacks of Manufacturing Execution Systems

  • Long implementation process. According to Gartner, the average implementation time for a Manufacturing Execution System is between 15 and 16 months, and it may take longer if you are implementing a custom system.
  • They often don’t work the way you do. Manufacturing Execution Systems have pre-defined features that are expensive to customize, so you will have to adapt your workflows to the MES if you want to minimize costs.
  • You’ll need to have an IT department to deploy and manage it. While your shop floor people will use it, they won’t be able to customize, setup, manage or fix it.
  • It’s expensive upfront. An MES will not pay for itself for quite some time because upfront costs are significant. 
  • They don’t give insight into labor productivity. While you can make sure employees have work instructions and track certifications, you’ll need another way to gain visibility into their productivity.

Do You Need a Manufacturing Execution System?

An MES may not be the solution you need, or it may be one of the solutions you choose to use. Weigh the following options:

  • Consider all the ways (use cases) you may need to use a Manufacturing Execution System and be sure to choose a vendor that can meet all of those needs.
  • Choose another software altogether that addresses the problems you need to solve in your manufacturing operation.
  • Choose an MES that integrates with other software solutions to satisfy your manufacturing operation needs.

While you may or may not need an MES, you may still want to consider a cost-effective shop floor management platform that helps you manage one of your most important resources—your labor productivity.

Do You Need a Shop Floor Management Platform?

Probably. Consider the following about Shop Floor IQ:  

  • Shop Floor IQ has all the tools you need to reduce downtime and increase efficiency all in one easy-to-use system, including production pace timers, dispatch queues, physical and virtual andon stack lights, instant messaging, configurable rules engines and integrations.
  • Shop Floor IQ can integrate with any software through a RESTful API, allowing you to keep both older and newer shop floor technology.
  • Shop Floor IQ is configurable to work the way your manufacturing operations work.
  • Implementation is quick and easy. Simply plug into new or existing button boxes, display drivers, stack lights, and more. No need to shut down for days.

If you would like to know more about getting real-time, actionable insights and improving your labor productivity, contact us to talk shop or get a free trial to see how it works.


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