Table of contents
Welcome to the next part of our series about manufacturing process tracking software. In this article, we’ll focus on what is Manufacturing Execution System (or MES in short) and how you can use it to streamline your manufacturing processes from the start to the end.
Because those systems really have plenty of very handy features – especially for small businesses that still handle most of the tasks via pen and paper. So in this article, we’ll share our tips on the best tools for production scheduling, shop floor control and cost tracking for small manufacturing companies.
What does MES mean?
Manufacturing execution systems (MES) are computerized systems used in manufacturing to track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods. MES provides information that helps manufacturing decision-makers understand how current conditions on the production floor can be optimised to improve production.
MES works in real-time to control multiple elements of the production process (e.g. inputs, personnel, machines and support services). That’s why it is often described as manufacturing process tracking software.
Why is MES needed in your small business?
Ten signs are pointing out that you need manufacturing control and production tracking software. Suppose you can spot in your company one of these problems described below. In that case, you should read this article and consider implementing a simple tool such as MES software to control production as an addition to your manufacturing scheduling software.
Sales reps, workers and other staff have difficulties finding the information they need
Sales department and office staff have to travel between the shop floor and their offices or make phone calls to know whether the product is ready to be able to give feedback to a client because they can’t see real-time progress in the company system.
Too much time spent managing paper production schedules
The production manager or the owner spends hours and days modifying the production schedule, sacrificing family time and their leisure to monitor the progress of production orders. The office workers also receive information about jobs done in paper notebooks or paper orders which isn’t clear. Next, the data is copied by you or your office staff into Excel.
Difficulties in calculating the production cost
You can’t say how much it costs to make the product or calculate the costs of labour (no matter if we talk about serial or unit production); your pricing is based on rough estimates.
Differences between expected and actual income
There is a discrepancy between planned and real income each month, although according to the number of invoices paid, the company should make a nice profit.
No access to productivity data
When your workers come to negotiate their bonus, you have no data regarding their productivity or arguments, so you can’t compare their efforts objectively. You don’t know how much productive time is at your production hall – how much time people spend working on valuable activities in comparison to time spent unproductively.
Problems with handling complaints or damaged products
When you happen to receive a complaint from your customer or spot a defect yourself, you can’t say who was responsible for the botched job;
You are struggling with ISO 9001 audit requirements
You have a QMS ISO 9001 system. Your clients require batch number tracking and production traceability. There are often audits in your industry, and you are snowed under paperwork needed to get a green light to continue work.
You can listen to an mp3 or watch our video about ten signs pointing out that you need manufacturing process tracking software for your business.
What does MES software do?
The minimum functions needed from MES and manufacturing control and tracking software in small businesses and its benefits.
Large companies use extended MES – Manufacturing Execution Systems, which usually are connected to machines and ERP systems with artificial intelligence to manage production, but their implementation costs thousands of dollars. The price, the difficulty, and lack of flexibility due to multiple options make them useless in small companies. It is an advertised solution, but very often, the gigabytes of data aren’t used in any way, and the effort put into collecting goes to waste. In addition, the scheduling takes more time than only performing it.
Meanwhile, it turns out that it is possible to use the most straightforward approach, like MES software. This solution you can introduce in just under 15 minutes and straight away benefit from manufacturing process tracking software in a small business. You will save a lot of time, improve control over your business, and, last but not least, increase productivity based on collected data. The best way to understand whether this solution is suitable for you is to try it (TRY FOR FREE)!
MES’s minimum functions will allow you to get rid of paper notebooks and move your production to a higher level
Most SaaS (Software as a Service) companies have trials, but only some of them, such as Prodio, will let you test all functions for free. (TRY FOR FREE). This will help you understand why production planning is crucial and optimise your production process with some good production management software.
The most basic information from the MES software enables calculating the cost of production and estimating the manufacturer’s optimal price for the client.
- The employee registers the START of a performed production operation. The system automatically receives information on who (namely), when, and what kind of task or product has just started to produce.
- The employee registers the end of a production operation by clicking a STOP button. Then, they add the number of pieces made and comment on potential defects.
These two simple records in the system present great opportunities; you’ve never dreamed about:
- You see the recorded time of all operations – a log book with information about who, when, and what they did. There is no need to go physically to the production hall to search for things or ask your workers;
- You can see real-time progress and the stage of each production order. Thanks to this, you can answer straight away all clients’ questions and make quick changes to the production schedule.
The time passed between the START and the STOP of each operation helps you to see:
- how long took an operation on that particular machine for each product;
- how much time worked employees;
- total time for orders/products/operations
(MES) manufacturing execution system by dividing working time by the number of pieces made shows:
- The productivity calculation for each production employee and different operations. You can use this data to compare people or prepare an assessment report
- You can adjust your products’ price list to genuine production norms.
You get an average time from all operations, so you can check if your productivity norms are correctly calculated:
- All orders have numbers, so every time an employee checks in the system, you see which order they are working on. So in case of a complaint, it is easy to trace who’s responsible by going back to the correct order and checking the working history.
Add these elements to your (MES) manufacturing execution system to get ahead of 80% of your competitors
Once you have a computer in your production hall, it would be a waste not to use it to display a simple production schedule/the list of production tasks for your workers.
The simple production schedule where workers can click to register production tasks have many advantages:
Boosts communication between the staff
It is a platform for seamless communication between you and the staff. The tasks are assigned to particular people, and the status of each task is visible to everybody. Workers can leave comments and update the progress (visible for different company departments). It is clear what should be produced, in which order and who is responsible. People see the queue of tasks and follow their daily routines. Then, they click to start work on the tasks and register their work.
Without an online production schedule, manufacturing control software is only a virtual notebook. Once you connect it to a production schedule and display it at the production, you get a complete and reliable system.
The number of check-in mistakes is minimal – the moment a worker clicks to start work on the production order, they can see its status changed to active in the system. For example, in Prodio manufacturing control software, the orders “in progress” are orange, as all production schedules are colored. The other production operations are visible on the timeline, which shows the complete view of all production hall activities.
Everything in one device
The same computer or tablet can serve as a work clock-in/clock-out registration board (with break/lunchtime included). Thanks to that you:
- Save time and money because you have everything in one place, on one device;
- See who is at work (and what time they checked in/out) and what they are working on;
- Can compare total time spent on the premises with the machine/operations time to increase productivity and monitor whether people don’t just laze around.
Spot and fix defects faster
The defects make up for the large percentage of hidden production costs, often missed. At times workers “forget” to report some of the flaws. In the comments to operations, workers can give the number of deficiencies and the reason for them. The simple defects analysis helps to calculate better real production costs and make estimates and comparisons.
Five more ideas about why you should choose paperless production to eliminate paper production orders while using a simple Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
Raw materials management
Register the use of raw materials to get a better idea of actual costs and their availability in stock; Production control means that you always have a basic overview of your manufacturing, all information about your inventory is quickly accessible, and you know everything about real-time workflow. As a result, you are ready to react immediately to an unforeseeable situation.
Print ID cards/ pallet cards directly from your MES system – your products will look more professional, and your shop floor will stay organised.
Batch/lot number tracking
Use batch /lot number tracking to identify the raw material used for a particular order. Then, in case of a problem, it will be possible to withdraw from the market the faulty batch.
Monitoring breaks and delays
Monitor breaks and hold-ups and learn why they appear. Make sure you use optimal working time. Without it, efficiency is unreachable.
Creating a production database
Add product photos, technical drawings and other documents to have all company know-how in one place.
Giving you competitive advantage
Great production control is a competitive advantage because it gives you great confidence in your manufacturing system. When you use production tracking software, you are sure that you have all the necessary raw materials, know your capacity, and know how much it is possible to produce at any given time. You need it even if you are a small make-to-order company.
You will feel confident in front of a client when you can quickly make accurate estimates. It will give the client a sense of safety and confidence in you. Right after getting the order, you will promptly schedule everything needed, and it will become a part of your production schedule.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and shop floor control software – essential elements of production planning
When you find the answer to why production planning fails (including implementation of production planning software and ERP systems), look no further than the lack of connection between production planning and manufacturing control and tracking tools.
There were many articles on production planning, so below there are only the highlights:
Updates the schedule automatically
Without MES / Manufacturing Execution System (MES) system, even the best production schedule, just one minute after planning and sharing with employees, becomes only a wish list. It is automatically out of date because it doesn’t show the real-time view or progress. It is crucial to see which orders are on hold, in production or delayed. You have real-time scheduling when you can read workers’ comments, add your insight, or make flexible changes. The master production schedule is shared online without visiting your shop floor.
Better cooperation between your staff
A right MES / Manufacturing Execution System (MES) system means not only a simple registration of work. It helps to present and share the production plan with all staff. It is a great advantage when corrections are visible straight away at the production hall. You don’t have to call the foreman or visit the shop floor to pass new instructions, write things down on the board, or change paper orders. Communication equals effectiveness, and that’s what you get.
Easier task delegation
When you don’t have sufficient data on the productivity of your manufacturing company at hand (paper orders on your desk, which you are snowed under, don’t count) or it is impossible to access this information while you make a production schedule, the tasks you delegate might have little to do with reality and productivity.
Once your manufacturing control software contains the registration of a working time module (which we recommend), you can see how many people there are on the shop floor who are off or on sick leave/vacation and adjust the production schedule to the current situation.
Manage the production remotely
Above all, when you have online access in one app to production planning and shop floor control like in the Prodio system, you will be able to manage your production from any place in the world from your smartphone because there is a mutual exchange of information.
Stop paying extra to your products – simple production CALCULATION
Learn about real times and product making costs – calculate production In the last...
How much does an MES system cost?
Improve manufacturing control software to track production better, spending only 15 USD on equipment with RFID readers
Most small companies regard vital fobs and RFID technology as complicated and don’t even want to test them in their production halls. Unfortunately, this fear is unfounded and can cost them losing of great opportunities.
Meanwhile, with the benefit of technological progress, it costs only 15 USD to ensure that a company hiring up to 10 employees can use inexpensive RFID technology.
How does it work – check out this short tutorial:
Why is it recommended to use an RFID clock-in/out system with manufacturing control software
Much faster registration time
Instead of clicking the correct order, then searching their name on the list, entering and confirming the password, the whole process is shortened to two simple steps. First, the employee selects the order and clicks RFID key-fob/card.
It is much safer and way easier to monitor
it is smoother to swap with another person and give them your password to cover an absence. With RFID cards, it is much more challenging.
More modern company
It creates an impression that the company moves with the times – it is a modern enterprise in managers, employees, contractors, and clients’ eyes.
Better work time registration
It is an excellent opportunity to integrate manufacturing control software with working time registration to register the time of check-ins/check-outs (you can read more about why the RFID production control system is so important).
How to introduce inexpensive RFID code readers for employees, which will be compatible with (MES) manufacturing execution system:
What is worth focusing on is the cost and the time of implementing such a solution. However, it is affordable, and the MAJORITY OF OUR CLIENTS IS SHOCKED AT THE FACT of HOW CHEAP AND EASY IT IS!
What kind of equipment do you need:
- a computer/a tablet with an Internet connection, a Google Chrome browser and an active USB port,
- RFID reader with USB port, which costs between 5-8 USD (below the screen of any first-in-line offer found on amazon.com)
- RFID key-fobs for employees to check in/check out (about 6-7 USD for the pack of 10)
On the side of the software:
- all you need is an online simple manufacturing control software such as Prodio (try for free)
How to track work-in-progress using RFID readers?
We decided to introduce another functionality, which is typical for worth thousands of euros...
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) / manufacturing software is an excellent aid with QMS ISO 9001/ FPC and Client audits.
Correctly implemented manufacturing scheduling software and simple online production planning can be a lifesaver if Quality Management System (QMS) is required in the company following the guidelines of ISO 9001:2015 norm, Factory Production Control (FPC) or other similar regulations.
Easy to use in production planning and practical manufacturing software such as Prodio can impress auditors because:
You have complete traceability, registration and production tracking
And this is one of the most challenging elements of the quality. It requires you to note who was precisely involved in each production activity connected with a given batch of goods. Instead of paper notes moved from place to place, everything is happening in the background once an employee checks in the start and finish of operation in the system. You can return to a desired moment in the work history, especially if you connect this system with printed orders.
Order at the production hall
There is traceability at the production hall – you can use printed production orders and put them on the particular order batches (you get the printed order with just two clicks from MES, such as Prodio) or write down their numbers.
Smoother information flow
There is also a great information flow (products’ parameters, client’s requirements, attachments with drawings/photos) between the production hall and a floor-level application – which is required by the norms and creates a big problem for many manufacturing companies.
Faster finding and registering faulty goods
You can register deficiencies and faulty goods directly from your production management system.
All of these happen automatically and offer you an excellent production management tool. More information is in the below article.
How to simplify your ISO 9001:2015 system at production?
Just hearing the words “ISO compliance” is often enough to send a chill through the...
Simple MES / manufacturing software is an easy solution for a paperless production hall and a professional image of the company
Why it’s essential to use manufacturing software instead of paper orders:
Registration of progress and work efficiency with old-fashioned paper orders is going to fail:
- Employees make mistakes, cross things out on paper orders, make wishful data – and you do not control it in real time,
- Data is entered into the system by a person who copies paper orders into Excel. Unfortunately, it costs extra to pay for this job and still does not prevent human error.
- You access all data with delay, so you can’t react fast enough; some indicators are analysed much later once you find them in gigantic tables.
That’s why in 2022, electronic registration of work using simple manufacturing software such as Prodio is not a luxury, and it’s a NECESSITY. Without such a system, most well-meant advice on production planning won’t be possible to implement because of insufficient, reliable data.
Imagine how your work could change if you can manage your production from the comfort of your house? Having your morning cup of coffee, you can open an application and in 2 minutes catch up on what’s happening in your production hall – what, by whom and how effectively was produced, who is at work, which orders are in progress.
Once you have manufacturing software, why don’t you use it to label your goods?
Using printed marking (product labels/ batch cards) at the production hall has MANY BENEFITS:
- It is much easier to keep things in order – you can mark goods in production, so you always know what’s what,
- It is much better to indicate finished products/batches – you save time and look more professional in front of your customers.
- Thanks to the assigned order number, you can go back to your work history to see the details in case of a complaint.
- There is 100% compatibility between your products’ names, and the risk of mistakes is minimised because the labels are made based on the products’ names.
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What’s next? How to start using MES and manufacturing tracking software?
If you like the idea of paperless production, when you are always in control of what’s happening, and the employees know their tasks, hence you have more free time. Then, it turns out to be relatively easy to start.
All you need is:
- about 30-45 minutes of set up time before you put a computer in the production hall,
- 97 $ USD a month fee (for a manufacturing company with up to 10 employees),
- any laptop at the production hall.
Thanks to modern cloud technology, instead of spending thousands of dollars to implement an extensive system, you can enjoy the benefits of manufacturing software, using it directly via your browser. There is no time like today, so try Prodio for free for 14 days. Our friendly team will help to make your vision come true.
On top of a clear display of production tasks on the shop floor and real-time progress registration, Prodio offers:
- your products database is built over time with precious company know-how saved in one place,
- easily accessible always-updated list of orders with their due dates,
- working history and analyses modules to make sure your data can translate into fast real-life decisions,
- simple inventory module, registration of working time and many more.
Want to see how Prodio works in practice? Give it just 15 minutes for installation, and you can start using the online production schedule (and tons of other features) straight away.
With an MES system, you can hand over most of the tedious and time-consuming tasks to the machine and instead focus on growing your business. Plus, the system will allow you to keep an eye on the production from any place in the world – as long as you have internet access. So Why would you keep handling so many of the manufacturing tasks the manual way, if there’s already a better option?
Manufacturing Execution System FAQ
What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?
A manufacturing execution system (MES) is a production tracking software that helps manage and control manufacturing operations on the shop floor. It provides real-time visibility into production processes, tracks production data, manages inventory, and optimizes production planning. MES is designed to improve production efficiency, quality control, and overall manufacturing performance.
How does a manufacturing execution system (MES) optimize production planning?
By using historical data, production goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to schedule production activities, manage production orders, and allocate resources effectively. It helps eliminate bottlenecks, reduce production time, and maximize productivity by providing real-time visibility into production activities and enabling quick adjustments to meet changing demands.
What are the key features of a manufacturing execution system (MES)?
Some essential features of a manufacturing execution system (MES) include real-time production tracking, inventory management, quality management, production planning, shop floor control, data collection, equipment monitoring, and resource utilization. MES provides a user-friendly interface, enables access to additional functionality, and supports services to help manufacturers manage their digital production processes efficiently.
How does a manufacturing execution system (MES) benefit small and midsize businesses?
By providing them with the same production tracking software capabilities as larger companies. MES helps small manufacturers optimize their production processes, reduce costs, improve quality control, and increase productivity. It offers real-time visibility, inventory control, production planning, and other essential features in a cost-effective manner.
How does a manufacturing execution system (MES) contribute to continuous improvement?
A manufacturing execution system (MES) can help with continuous improvement by providing real-time data and analytics on production processes. It enables manufacturers to identify bottlenecks, analyze production issues, and implement corrective actions promptly. MES supports value stream mapping, tracks key performance indicators, and helps manufacturers identify areas for improvement, reduce waste, and optimize production capabilities.