multimedia videos of di;icult-to-explain processes.
It captures rework and scrap reason codes, along
with miscellaneous employee comments from the
plant floor. Included quality assurance supports
the reporting of setup inspection, first article, piece
counts, and more. Inventory functions such as adjustment, material issues, and physical inventory
counts all can be accessed within MES. Plant floor
workers can access the MES using touchscreens, bar
code readers, and voice entry, all using a variety of
Machine MES provides automatic production and
process monitoring. The intent is to eliminate inaccurate and time-consuming manual data collection,
so operators can stop measuring and monitoring
and focus instead on making quality products.
Both stand-alone MES and MES modules within
ERP can accept manual data entry or data entry directly from machines. Manufacturers can configure
and customize reports, dashboards, and key performance indicators that provide di;erent users with
the information they need. MES provides real-time
information about the status of materials and resources, lot and serial traceability, production planning, dispatching, and quality metrics with statistical process control analytics.
Custom fabricators and other small job shops may
find similar benefits of an MES that larger manufacturers do. MES provides management with the
data to make informed decisions using the reports,
dashboards, KPIs, and other analytical tools. MES
o;en eliminates the need for a paper trail, leading
to marked reductions in paperwork costs.
Automating data entry eliminates errors from
manual data entry and frees shop floor personnel
to perform more value-added tasks. Access to real-time data about labor, scrap, and maintenance helps
improve productivity. The so;ware helps people
uncover problems and correct them immediately,
which limits the number of bad parts and wasted
material and increases uptime.
At the same time, MES allows the shop to adapt.
If one machine falls behind or has problems, so;ware can help shi; work to other machines and
alter the production plan to ensure jobs keep flowing. It also helps coordinate production scheduling and machine maintenance. In these ways, MES
helps manage resource availability: man, machine,
MES of the Future
Moving forward, MES likely will become more modular, more connected to the cloud, and more embedded in more devices. Industry 4.0 dictates the
end of traditional centralized applications for production control. Smart factories with intelligent and
autonomous shop floor entities—from connected
production machinery (industrial internet of things)
to automated guided vehicles (AGV), all designed
around custom production—will be inherently decentralized.
In a sheet metal operation, for instance, jobs will
flow from order entry to the shop floor, through
cutting, through forming and subsequent welding,
coating, and assembly operations. At every step,
machines will communicate data, like which jobs
are on what sheet, where those sheets have come
from, and where parts are going. Estimated cutting
and bending times will be compared to actual times,
making quoting more accurate than ever. This kind
of connectivity is already here, and it’s only going to
become more pervasive.
All this will drive future MES development. By
managing and monitoring work-in-process and other elements of production, connecting machines,
products, parts, and people, MES will help build
the factory of the future, all driven by international
E;orts to develop these standards are still in the
early stages. Germany’s Industrie 4.0 emerged as
the first driver, but the U.S.-based Industrial Internet Consortium—founded in March 2014 by manufacturing, internet, IT, and telecommunications
companies—has become a prominent alternative.
Still, when you get to the essence of it all, names
do not really matter. Manufacturing is full of jargon
and acronyms: MES, ERP, MRP, IIo T, Industry 4.0, and
all the rest. Whether an MES works with a separate
ERP or an ERP has the functions of an MES embedded inside it, the system needs to help, not hinder,
It’s about increased visibility to critical data, automating processes, improved quality, increased efficiency, and improved productivity. Ultimately, information needs to flow to make people’s jobs less
stressful, easier, and more productive.
Kathie Poindexter is senior product marketing
manager, Epicor So;ware Corp., 949-585-4000,
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Moving forward, MES likely will
become more modular,
more connected to the cloud,
and more embedded in more devices.