Do you need an MES for your factory floor?

Generally speaking, there are two major categories of factory floor systems in the market…and both of them help minimize, control and analyze factory activities.

You can group these systems into two categories.  The first is known as, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), which controls the machines and equipment.  The second is known as MES (Manufacturing Execution System) which controls the activities on the factory floor both within and between each operation.

SCADA’s main focus is using computers (PLC) to control the equipment movements and obtain information such as speeds, feeds, temperature, pressure, etc.  Labor tracking is secondary, if at all.

The MES is focused on making sure that the entire production process and all its activities are controlled to maximize efficiency, minimize waste and improve the accuracy and timeliness of production information. MES can control activities starting from material issues, all the way through to the operational activities to finished goods updating.  This assures the accountability of all the resources required (labor, machines, tools) and necessary documents (job packet, WIP tags, instructions, drawing, quality sheets, and time sheets, etc.) are available through one system.

Both systems minimize or eliminate manual activity and maximize accuracy and reliability in making parts.  SCADA integration is with the equipment and can be tied on a factory network to an OPC (Open Process Control) Server. MES integration is mainly from the ERP system. Integration can also be to a document library or payroll systems (for Time and Attendance).  Integration can be with machines (without SCADA) through an OPC Server to assist the operator in accounting for production and identifying downtime and other OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) analytics.  For more information on OEE following this link…

MES also must have an easy-to-use operator User Interface (UI).  The User Experience (UX) must be simple and intuitive.  Information should be capture through push buttons on touch screens and unique specialized intelligent keypads promoting a “one-click” approach to production and labor tracking.  Dispatching is dynamic adjusting to floor and customer changes quickly often from an Advanced Planning and Scheduling System (APS) that can schedule and reschedule with finite (level loading) accuracy in seconds. For more information on APS follow this link…

By coordinating all the activities and resources, the MES provides a paperless system (electronic, real-time and interactive) for improving the accuracy and timeliness of floor activities. As a result, operators and supervisors have immediate feedback on performance while management has detail and granular analytics for lean manufacturing process improvements.

10 good reason to implement an MES on your factory floor:

  1. Data analysis too late to be useful
  2. Little or no traceability of materials
  3. Minimal accountability at the operator level
  4. Little or no visibility into WIP production process
  5. No “compliance” to the production schedule/rate
  6. Too many floor transaction and transcription errors
  7. Need a visual systems approach to Lean Manufacturing
  8. Multiple copies of the same documents…too much paper handling
  9. Too many different systems for the floor…no uniformity of floor systems
  10. OEE metrics becoming a necessary floor metric that is wanted by Management

MES also must have an easy-to-use operator User Interface (UI).

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