In today’s increasingly connected and digital world, the need for data on-demand is greater than ever before. Manufacturing operations need to understand the status of various processes rapidly and derive insights from trends. One tool that helps address this need is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
An MES is used for tracking and monitoring production from raw material inputs into finished goods and helps optimize production. It increases visibility across the organization and allows for efficiency advancements within operations. Let’s look at a few benefits.
Improved visibility into operations
The implementation of an MES improves visibility into manufacturing operations as all stakeholders can access the same data regarding manufacturing operations. This shared access gives everyone the confidence that the information they’re viewing is accurate and consistent across the board.
From the shop floor to the top floor, operators, supervisors, and senior management benefit by having more awareness of production status. For example, if the process is falling behind schedule, resources can be shifted to mitigate delays. With access to accurate and real-time production data, manufacturers can apply the insights gained to many areas of production such as:
An MES tracks quality parameters in real-time which allows you to catch quality problems sooner and apply remedies. Without this visibility, producing bad product means you are simply throwing away money in terms of labor, materials, downtime, and rework. My colleague used to say, “Producing bad product is like taking a pile of money and setting it on fire.”
Many companies don’t have a good handle on the efficiency of their manufacturing resources – both machines and employees. Often, it’s based on weak data or gut feel. An MES gives you accurate and real-time efficiencies of both these resources. This ability to drill down into efficiency losses is a huge opportunity to focus improvements on those where you’ll get “the most bang for the buck”. For example, efficiency losses could result from things like machine breakdowns, too many changeovers, or operators not being trained properly – but you don’t know where to focus your efforts if you don’t have the data.
Downtime is, of course, related to efficiency and is typically one of the costliest problems in manufacturing. It’s painful to see a million-dollar machine sit idle. An MES will help you collect, track and analyze production data to identify downtime and drill into its many causes.
Production Schedule & Progress
This is the age-old problem in every plant: are we on target to meet the production schedule? Many companies struggle with manual systems such as Excel spreadsheets, whiteboards, or “it’s in someone’s head.” An MES informs workers what to do next and tracks each operation’s progress in real-time, down to the minute, so you can see when the schedule is slipping before it’s too late and make adjustments. This saves costs as fewer changeovers and expediting are required, and results in happier customers who get their products on time.
MES data also contains a record of inputs and outputs for each production run, which enables traceability. This is critical when production problems require you to trace back through the manufacturing processes from finished goods back to raw materials.
Enhanced efficiency through processes standardization
Another massive benefit of an MES is process standardization. An MES can be used to govern and define specific processes that are to be followed, in a specific order. As a result, you can eliminate spreadsheets, the need to maintain paper logs, manual data entry into multiple systems, and the need to reconcile information with your operations division. This saves time and reduces the number of errors caused by manual intervention to improve the overall quality and efficiency of your processes.
Once processes become automated and standardized, they are easier to measure, focus on, and improve, freeing up human resources to work on revenue-generating activities instead.
Streamlined inventory management
An additional potential benefit that comes with the implementation of an MES is inventory management. The MES gives you visibility of exactly what inventory is required for production, what is consumed and what is actually produced.
An MES can be integrated with other systems such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to further optimize operational efficiencies. Real-time integration eliminates the delays, errors, and costs caused by manual systems and duplicate data entry across systems. ERP systems provide macro and planning features such as forecasting, inventory management, MRP, and MES systems complement this by providing detailed shop floor scheduling and tracking.
If you’re looking for a simple yet effective way to enhance operational efficiencies and reap the benefits of having consistent data shared across the organization, the implementation of an MES is the solution. The benefits of an MES can be massive and help you get complete control over your operations, unlocking more value for your manufacturing business.