How an MES Plays a Critical Role in the Complex Manufacturing Process


Deb Geiger, VP Global Marketing, Aegis Software


Today's businesses are more aware than ever of the impact a robust Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can have on their complex manufacturing processes. However, a full-featured, commercial MES is still not present in many manufacturing environments. Instead, many organizations still rely on legacy systems, which often combine point solutions and paper-based processes. But adapting to new procedures, enabled by the right MES, is truly required to integrate, automate, and streamline manufacturing operations while capitalizing on new opportunities.

Modern MES solutions for complex manufacturing provide advanced capabilities that enable manufacturers to increase production, reduce cost, improve quality, and facilitate real-time product tracking and data collection, thus increasing production efficiency. Whether a given operation is primarily intended for assembly, processing, inspection, or testing, every action must be considered a key opportunity to elevate quality. A Quality Management System (QMS) that is an embedded component of the MES platform can play an essential role for manufacturers by mitigating risk and upholding applicable regulations and industry standards.

This blog post discusses the tangible benefits an MES can bring to manufacturing companies when complemented with a robust QMS and why implementing the right system is so important.

How an MES Enhances Product Quality

An MES is an essential complement to an organization's Quality Management System (QMS) and ideally both should be part of a holistic solution on a single platform. Together, these systems can accelerate process development, improve production control, deliver regulatory compliance, and provide real-time visibility to management. Most importantly, when MES and QMS are one, they actually automate continuous improvement. The MES processes information about each event (e.g., tracking the exact location of every production unit and using the timings of each reading) and can capture and report KPIs in real-time. Following the product's complete lifecycle enables the MES to maintain a unified product history through production, repairs, and other processes.

The byproduct of all these actions inside the factory is the rich analytical data living within a centralized, contextualized MES database, which is immediately available for intelligent reporting and insightful action and brings KPIs and quality metrics to life in real time. Implementing a modern MES platform reduces energy consumption and waste during manufacturing. It provides core functions such as real-time data collection, process control, complete visibility, and end-to-end product and process traceability.

However, a key quality challenge manufacturers often encounter is the ability to react and report when a non-conformance occurs within the factory environment with the greatest possible agility. Many manufacturers are plagued by a lack of quality metrics and a corresponding ability to report them in a reasonable timeframe for broader correction, prevention, and improvement to occur. Conversely, leveraging an MES with QMS capabilities enables all personnel to serve in a quality role, ensuring continuous improvement. The critical piece that most MES platforms lack surrounds data contextualization and the use of that data. When evaluating platforms, it is essential to understand how they provide contextualized data to confirm the efficacy of those improvements and the ability to enforce improvements digitally continually. This powerful combination elevates quality in unprecedented ways through successful closed-loop checks and preventive measures without degrading production line performance.

How an MES Provides Tangible Benefits to Manufacturers 

In the absence of an MES with QMS capabilities, reporting is purely historical and is often available too late to take corrective action. For example, a critical event may be reported in a historical context, eliminating the opportunity to rectify it before it impacts the production process. Situations like this highlight the importance of utilizing an MES + QMS, as manufacturing performance radically changes when a holistic system is implemented. By leveraging the powerful combination, issues can be addressed in the present and mitigate their potential effects.

Furthermore, a robust MES+QMS readily adjusts to the unique quality challenges found in manufacturing. When properly designed, the solution seamlessly considers all activities conducted at an operation—from setup to execution—whether performed by a person or machine. The ability to provide electronic documentation eliminates several risks often associated with paper-based document management, particularly in an audit situation where evidence of regulatory compliance is key.

Quality functions, while essential, are only one aspect of the overall operational coverage of an MES. An MES offers many organization-wide benefits to manufacturers, including:

  • Maximized resource utilization
  • Automate continuous improvement
  • Streamlined manufacturing cycle times (reduced downtime, increased uptime)
  • Reduction of scrap and/or rework
  • Increased production quality and control
  • Mobile inventory
  • Improved regulatory compliance standards
  • Real-time material and product traceability

Utilize the Right IIoT-Enabled MES Platform 

The dramatic impact that a holistic platform can have on the entire manufacturing process, from product quality to product tracking, is unmistakable. The right MES changes how data is collected and engages all organization levels to take an active role in quality and compliance. Utilizing an MES is an essential pillar of the organization's system and process, enabling it to attain the highest quality output and achieve operational excellence. When selecting MES software, manufacturing companies should aim to utilize a single, unified platform that will meet longer-term targeted objectives without needing replacement.

What is the point of data if you are not using it to drive continuous improvement when it comes down to the heart of the matter? Aegis' FactoryLogix® platform powerfully enables this effort as an IIoT-based platform upon which MES, Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), and QMS capabilities reside. With FactoryLogix®, access to a digital factory model creates visibility into the status and performance of your processes at all times. This visibility presents countless opportunities for improvement in the flow of shop-floor production and the assignment of work orders. This uniquely adaptive solution drives enterprise-wide compliance, quality, and efficiency, helping manufacturers discover greater returns.

Speak with an expert to learn more about how implementing FactoryLogix® can yield measurable results in the manufacturing process.

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