MES is now undoubtedly the basis of digitalization and the foundation of modern manufacturing activity. In the environment that can be described as Industry 4.0, it is a key factor in determining a possible business success. The reality of Industry 4.0, which – like never before – is analysed and evaluated through the prism of KPIs and all other measurements, requires the adjustment of production processes to MES assumptions.
MES – Manufacturing Execution System – in the context of production management provides solutions that are crucial from the company’s point of view: it streamlines business processes and enables full control of the manufacturing process. However, if we look at the implementation of MES in more detail, what are the benefits of implementing it?
1. Better analysis of the manufacturing process
MES-system allows full access to data covering the manufacturing process in Echtzeit. This translates into better information flow and more efficient generation of data. When MES provides comprehensive information about orders, current processes or the time required for each execution, the administrator has all the knowledge necessary to draw key conclusions. This is how MES-system – after analysing OEE drops – directly indicates potential problems and bottlenecks in production. This way the software for production supports implementation of improvements into the production process.
It is also worth looking at MES applications through the prism of data monitoring – OEE trends being of paramount importance for the effectiveness of the activities undertaken. This solution ensures better planning, control and execution of orders.
2. Data provided in real time
The proliferation of digitalization has made it even more difficult for business to accept a time vacuum, a long wait for a package of data necessary for analysis. MES ensures that production data is provided in real time. This translates into the extremely important ability to make decisions based on current and up-to-date information – not forecasts or packages acquired with a controlled delay.
Automatic data collection via PLCs, sensors and operator input ensures better assessment of production statuses and progress in real time. Although this advantage is mainly perceived through better, more efficient monitoring of KPIs or assessment of the real OEE value, it can be reduced to the following general observation – MES provides the administrator or manager with a complete overview of all processes occurring in the company.
3. Quality under control
In a situation where the quality of production is the cornerstone of business operations, control of this process plays a particularly vital role. MES ensures – as confirmed by industry analyses – that the number of potential defects is reduced by execution of the quality plan and identification of quality discrepancies. Thus, it ensures that the quality of production in a factory is controlled according to accepted standards.
However, this is not only about diagnostics but also about prevention. Implementing MES in a business enables early identification of an unstable process. This allows a much faster response to quality results and potential error alerts. On the one hand, this kind of real-time analysis of defects and automation of notifications reduces the risk of spending on faulty product batches. On the other hand, it is always an extremely valuable baggage of experience and knowledge about possible sources of problems.
4. Increased availability of machinery
A company’s machinery park is a space in which unnecessary downtime or long waiting times for starting production cannot happen. Such incidents – particularly at the micro level – tend to be underestimated. MES makes maintenance faster by implementing systems for early notification of downtime and its causes. All this translates into more efficient monitoring of KPIs in terms of MTBF, MTTR, and MTTF.
5. Noticeable increase in performance
The implementation of MES in business is often framed – in terms of benefits – for higher performance in general. What does this term mean? In practice, it is a compilation of events and processes that are not individually perceived as a threat. The system ensures the identification of micro-stops from the PLC. However, it is different if you look at them as a group of constant factors influencing the company’s performance. MES ensures full repeatability of certain processes in the factory – precise control over machine settings. This is followed by further steps such as:
- monitoring of changes
- faster production start-up
6. Timely execution of orders
Production under time pressure is already a natural ecosystem in which every modern company must find its place. By implementing and applying MES and drill-down analysis, it is easier to find the real source of problems – the real causes that determine failure to meet deadlines. This process is critical for monitoring machine conditions, faults, and the resulting downtime. The result is far greater transparency in production – seen both from the perspective of the operators and from that of management.
For years, the excessive amount of paper in circulation – dozens of documents, analyses and certificates – was seen as a necessary evil. MES in business effectively reduces its use. The introduction of digital forms – standard forms and the ability to create your own – as well as other documentation in PDF are some tangible benefits. The main benefit is the reduction of costs and paper expenses. The second one is the ease and speed of updating data and the certainty of its status. MES digitalization instead of the ubiquitous paper also means faster, simpler and more intuitive generation of data reports.
8. Less production waste
MES implementation means significantly more efficient waste management. The system provides real-time notification of defects. The data collected provides better monitoring of progress and volumes. MES also enables error control.
9. Eliminating human error
People can be the weakest link in the production process. MES and automation in general enable better control over the human factor. The added value is a better analysis of the targets expressed in KPIs – the data is more transparent for management and operators. It all boils down to a scheme in which project managers can be sure that specific parameters are set for the machines – without human error or delays.
10. Traceability of processes
MES implementation means a reduced risk of human error that would result from the use of incorrect or blocked components. Verification of the compliance process is easier and quicker. This is due to the full traceability of the production chain. Traceability and recognisability of individual activities is also facilitated by free access to data and linking it to specific process parameters – a given machine operator or operating time.
11. Shorter reporting time
The implementation of MES represents a marked improvement in the efficiency of office work. Implementation combined with the use of other software modules extends the possibilities. It is possible to obtain an automatic interface for other types of software for production – ERP, APS, WMS, CMMS, etc. Fast access to aggregated data and detailed information is also a result of synchronised interfaces.
12. Actual production cost and margin
MES implementation provides a precise and in-depth answer to how much the production cost actually is and to what extent the project is profitable. The software for production is responsible for analysing the real execution time of a given order, as in the context of production it takes into account such elements as:
- time and cost of reworks
- cost of waste
- real costs of energy
13. Quicker induction of new employees
Despite the growing importance of automation, the human factor remains vital. However, efficient use of resources is of high importance. MES enables better and faster induction of employees to new tasks. This is facilitated by such MES solutions as:
- a set of step-by-step instructions for operators
- easy access to documents
- better communication with management and quality, technology and maintenance departments
MES and implementation – a prospect of benefits
The implementation of MES offers several distinct advantages that have a real positive effect on the company and its production profile. Importantly, the payback process itself is quick. As the analyses show, depending on the size of the company, it takes between 12 and 24 months to achieve ROI.