At a glance – manufacturing execution systems (MES)

MES brings strategic software to the factory floor

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are computerised systems that are used in manufacturing to plan, schedule, track and improve operations. The main goal of MES is to ensure that all processes work in the most efficient way. As manufacturing becomes more complex, MES software is vital. The scope of these systems ranges from scheduling tasks to carrying out performance analysis across the entirety of the manufacturing process. Vendors include Siemens and Aspen Technology.

For the last twenty years, MES has helped to coordinate activities across the factory floor. It serves as a bridge between process control systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP). ERP refers to the software used to manage day to day business activities, facilitating data flows and providing single, true datasets. One of the most well known vendors of ERP is German-based SAP.

MES has become more sophisticated thanks to innovative tech. Through advanced data collection, analysis and visualisation, MES can manage multiple global facilities. The development of cloud based technologies has turned MES from a standard technique into a crucial first step towards lean manufacturing. By 2023, the global MES market is expected to reach $19.36bn.

There are many advantages to using cloud based MES. By collecting real time data across all processes, MES delivers a holistic view of the health of a manufacturing plant. These insights can be used to alter production methods to become more resource efficient and respond directly to demand. One upshot is that 'just in case' inventory is eliminated, consequently reducing waste. MES also helps with regulatory compliance, which is particularly important in heavily regulated industries like food and drink. Cloud enabled MES improves both product quality and time to market, culminating in increased customer satisfaction.