WHAT IS (MES) MANUFACTURING EXECUTION SYSTEM – AN ULTIMATE GUIDE
Gain full control over your manufacturing process and enjoy a real-time workflow.
Welcome to the next part of our series about manufacturing software for small businesses, where you can find tips on the best tools for production scheduling, control and cost tracking for small manufacturing companies.
What MES means?
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 optimized to improve production. MES works in real-time to control multiple elements of the production process (e.g. inputs, personnel, machines and support services).
Sometimes it is not easy to see the signs suggesting that changes are much needed in your company. It can start with little things, delays, lack of organization, a few missed deadlines, complaint. But when it gets repeated and repeated, you might not be able to stop the chain of negative consequences.
Why is MES needed in your small business?
10 signs, pointing out that you need manufacturing control and tracking software.
If you can spot in your company one of these problems described below you should read this article and consider implementing a simple tool such as MES (Manufacturing Execution System) to control production as an addition to your manufacturing scheduling software:
- 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 company system;
- Production manager or the owner spend hours and days to modify production schedule, sacrificing family time and their leisure to monitor the progress of production orders;
- The office workers 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;
- You can’t say how much it really 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;
- 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;
- When your workers come to negotiate their bonus, you have no data regarding their productivity nor 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;
- 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 have a QMS ISO 9001 system, your clients require batch number tracking and production traceability, or there are often audits in your industry and you are snowed under paperwork required to get a green light to continue work.
You can listen to an mp3 about 10 signs, pointing out that you need manufacturing control and tracking software for your business.
What does MES software do?
The minimum of 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, lack of flexibility due to multiple options make them useless in small companies. It is a solution, but very often, the gigabytes of data aren’t used in any way, and the effort put into collecting goes to waste. The scheduling takes more time than only performing it.
Meanwhile, it turns out that it is possible to use the most straightforward approach, the solution which you can introduce in 15 minutes to benefit from manufacturing control 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 optimize your production process with some good production management software.
The most basic information from the (MES) manufacturing execution system 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 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. 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 kind of 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 different 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. In case of a complaint, it is easy to trace who’s responsible by going back to the right order and checking working history.
Add these 3 simple elements to your (MES) manufacturing execution system to get ahead of 80% of your competitors.
1. 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:
- 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 for everybody.
- Workers can leave comments and update the progress (visible for different departments of the company). 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. They click to start work on the tasks, and their work is registered. 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. In Prodio manufacturing control software, the orders “in progress” are orange, as all production schedules are colour. The other production operations are visible on the timeline, which shows the complete view of all production hall activities.
2. The very same computer or tablet can serve as a work clock-in/clock-out registration board (with break/lunchtime included). Thanks to that you:
- Save the 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 are they 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.
3. In the comments to operations, workers can give the number of deficiencies and the reason for them:
- The defects make up for the large percentage of hidden production costs, which are often missed. At times workers “forget” to report some of the flaws;
- The simple defects analysis helps to calculate better real production costs, make estimates and comparisons.
5 more ideas about why you should choose paperless production to get rid of paper production orders while using a simple Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
- Register the use of raw materials to get the better idea of real costs and their availability in stock; Production control means that you always have an actual overview of your manufacturing, all information about your inventory is quickly accessible, you know everything about real-time workflow, and you are ready to react in an unforeseeable situation immediately.
- Print ID cards/ pallet cards directly from your MES system – your products will look more professional, and your shop floor will stay organized;
- Use batch /lot number tracking to identify the raw material used for a particular order. In case of a problem, it will be possible to withdraw from the market the faulty batch.
- Monitor breaks and hold-ups, and learn why they appear. Make sure you use optimally working time. Without it, efficiency is unreachable.
- Add product photos, technical drawings and other documents to have all company know-how in one place.
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 quickly schedule everything needed, and it will become a part of your production schedule.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and manufacturing control software – essential elements of production planning.
When you try to 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:
- 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. That’s why it is crucial to see which orders are on hold, in production or delayed. When you can read workers comments, add your own insight, or make flexible changes, you have the real-time scheduling. The master production schedule is shared online, without the need to visit your shop floor.
- 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 or write things down on the board or change paper orders. Communication equals effectiveness, and that’s what you get.
- 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 definitely recommend), you can see how many people there are at the shop floor, who’s off or on sick leave/vacation, and adjust the production schedule to the current situation.
- Above all, when you mix production planning, manufacturing control software and online access, 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.
Read more on production calculation, real production times and product making costs.
How much does an MES system cost?
Improve manufacturing control software to track production better, spending only 15 $ USD on equipment with RFID readers
The majority of small companies regard key-fobs and RFID technology as complicated and don’t even want to test it in their production halls. 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 RFID check-in/out system with manufacturing control software:
- Much faster registration time – instead of clicking the right order, then searching their name on the list, entering and confirming the password, the whole process is shortened to two simple steps. 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, give them your password to cover an absence. With RFID cards, it is much more challenging.
- It creates an impression that the company moves with the times – it is a modern enterprise in managers, employees, contractors, and clients’ eyes.
- It offers greater possibilities regarding tablets/touch devices on machines because it means less clicking.
- It is a good opportunity to integrate manufacturing control software with the registration of working time to register the time of check-ins/check-outs (you can read more about why 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. Actually, it is really affordable, and the MAJORITY OF OUR CLIENTS IS SHOCKED AT THE FACT HOW CHEAP AND EASY IT IS!
What kind of equipment do you need:
- a computer/a tablet with the Internet connection, 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 the 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)
Read about RFID technology and equipment.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) / manufacturing software is a great aid with QMS ISO 9001/ FPC and Client’s 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.
- You have complete traceability, registration and production tracking – and this is one of the most difficult 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.
- 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.
- There is also a great information flow (products’ parameters, client’s requirements, attachments with drawings/photos) between production hall and a floor level application – which is required by the norms and creates a big problem for many manufacturing companies.
- You can register deficiencies and faulty goods directly from your production management system.
..and all of these happen automatically and offer you a great production management tool. There is more information about it in the article about ISO 9001 and production control, so you know how production management software co-operates with MCS.
Simple MES / manufacturing software an easy solution for a paperless production hall and professional image of the company
Why it’s important to use manufacturing software instead of paper orders:
Registration of progress and work efficiency with old fashioned paper orders is going to end in a failure:
- Employees make mistakes, cross things out on paper orders, make wishful data – and you do not control it at real-time,
- data is entered in the system by a person who copies paper orders into Excel. 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 of the indicators are analyzed much later, once you find them in gigantic tables.
That’s why in 2021 electronic registration of work ex. 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 in work history to see the details in case of complaint.
- There is a 100% compatibility between your products’ names, and the risk of mistakes is minimized because the labels are made based on products’ names.
What’s next? How to start using MES and manufacturing tracking software?
If you liked 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? 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 at the production hall,
- 97 $ USD a month fee (for a manufacturing company up to 10 employees),
- any computer at the production hall.
Thanks to modern cloud technology, instead of spending thousands of dollars for implementing 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 at the shop floor, real-time progress registration, Prodio offers:
- your products database built over time with precious company know-how save 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.
SEE YOU IN THE APP – CLICK 🙂