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MES: The Orchestra Director of the Manufacturing Workshop

What to Look for in a Manufacturing Execution System.

Smart production, the basis for increased competitiveness in the Latin American industry, requires the choice of correct software tools in our workshops. Learn about the details of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to make the right investment.

More than ever, manufacturing performance depends on optimizing processes in the shop and throughout the supply network. Current MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions allow manufacturers to monitor their business-wide operating processes to coordinate and synchronize employees, processes, systems, tools and materials, even across multiple sites. operations and departments within the company using the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).

A little history about MES

Since their inception in the 1990s, MESs have evolved from simple and rigid monitoring programs to modular, robust and integrated production planning, management and analysis software solutions. These emerged as a need for the manufacturing industry to meet market requirements, in terms of reaction speed, quality, cost reduction, and meeting deadlines.

In their first versions, MES systems required a high initial investment for coding and hardware. Its rigid nature made it difficult to implement changes, since any modification made involved a great effort in terms of coding. As a result of this, the need arose to classify MES systems to delimit their role within organizations.

A first classification model was represented by 4 levels in the CIM pyramid (Computer Integrated Manufacturing), see Figure 1. At the top of the pyramid (level 4) were the well-known ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, responsible for business management and administrative functions. A step down, were the MES systems, in charge of manufacturing management. Finally, at the base of the pyramid, was the layer of industrial automation (level 2) and that of actuators and sensors (level 1).

The ISA (International Automation Society) standardized in the ISA-95 standard the modes of data exchange between MES, ERP and lower levels. Its structure mainly served to clarify the role of MES and ERP within the organizational software structure. The pyramid representation of CIM was not taken in this classification, but the same levels were maintained.

Today, in 80% of current cases it works in this way, the ERP brings to the MES a list of manufacturing orders that it must execute controlling the procedures of the operations and their traceability, to later return to the ERP the consumption of raw materials, production performance and quality of manufactured products.

Over time, market dynamics and advances in technology required that MES systems move from a rigid structure to a flexible one with greater adaptability. The development of Ethernet and TCP / IP became a universal base layer for most networks. This encompassed sensors, actuators, peripherals, PLCs, computer networks, and even the global internet connection.

Nowadays, an additional level (level 0) has been added, which considers communication, through control interfaces (HMIs), between MES systems and machine operators (See Figure 2).

Currently, this modular system has evolved with new functional characteristics derived from the challenges of the globalized economy: hyper connection, real-time information, the expansion of IIoT and automation.

Will IIoT platforms replace MES?

MES systems are responsible for planning, managing and analyzing production. Due to the current trend, in which each supplier of components or manufacturing machines offers a software system to visualize the data generated by their products, companies from different sectors have ensured that MES systems will be replaced by emerging capabilities of IIoT platforms.

Although many of these capabilities - such as production data collection or alert generation - appear to supplement the functions of MES, they are actually a complement: while IIoT platforms will facilitate local data production, MES systems will orchestrate the production processes.

Contrary to a substitution, trends show that companies will continue to implement these systems more and more. According to the GIA (Global Industry Analysts), the MES market will grow in the coming years to a value of US$15.3 billion by 2025.

An important part of the growth of the MES systems market lies in the potential it has with emerging IIoT technologies to increase energy efficiency and sustainable production. In the near future, the MES will be in charge of orchestrating production to improve the results of the plant and optimize the operations involved.

What to look for in a MES system

To obtain the best result from an MES system, it must formalize a marriage with emerging technologies, and especially with IIoT platforms. As previously mentioned, the success of this marriage is that MES systems take on the role of orchestrators.

Three orchestration capabilities required to ensure maximum profit on the manufacturing floor are highlighted here:

Palabras relacionadas:
MES, manufacturing execution systems, Industry 4.0, systematized workshops, systematization of manufacturing workshops, systematization of metalworking workshops, IIoT, Industrial Internet of Things, ERP.

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