What is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)?


Definition of Manufacturing Execution System

A Manufacturing Execution System or MES is a computer system implemented on the shop floor or a manufacturing facility. An MES software is used to track and record the transition of raw materials to finished goods. It should also create various audit trails of inputs, keep track of materials, track stages of the production process, and much more. 

How does a manufacturing execution system work?

An MES system collects information helping the management team to understand the conditions and speed of operation on the shop floor. A typical MES software will track the production flow and help to create a more optimizes process. Here is a great definition from A methodology for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) implementation published in IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering

Manufacturing execution system is information systems (IS) application that bridges the gap between IS at the top level, namely enterprise resource planning (ERP), and IS at the lower levels, namely the automation systems.

A methodology for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) implementation

A typical MES system creates operation traceability, capturing the processes and outcomes of each production line. Further, a typical MES system will do collect data from the manufacturing floor and create data trends to map existing patterns in production. An MES system could create a paperless trail of the entire operation and control the quality of the end products.

Implementing an MES will help several function areas of the shop floor, providing valuable information to those in upper management.

Here is a summary of how it can help:

  • Gives an accurate measure of costs(Labor costs, scrap, machine downtime, etc.)
  • Creates operation traceability
  • Reduces inventory cost, optimizing inventory and purchases
  • Tracks and gathers real-time data throughout the entire production cycle, starting with order release until the product delivery stage (allows visibility for the entire process)

Today’s MES software has gone a long way from the 1970’s production execution system. The progression of Industry 4.0 is going to create a ” next-generation MES” which will further underline the importance of adopting digital manufacturing.