Today modern production plants are no longer defined by the manufacturing of products, but instead by their customer orientation and the resulting service features such as faithfulness to deadlines, flexibility, delivery time and product variety.
Above all, product diversity and the shorter product life cycles result in complex processes. To achieve competitive advantages, production companies must structure the efficiency of their internal processes as close to optimal as possible and continually improve it, which is nothing less than lean manufacturing. Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) can help here by contributing to increased transparency, responsiveness and economy.
Figure 1: Process control
Figure 1 shows the MES as a measuring chain in process control. Malfunctions lead to deviations from the planned sequence. Examples of these kinds of malfunctions, which are detected by the MES, are missed deadlines, machine downtimes, missing materials, sick employees or sudden quality shortcomings.
The MES is assigned to the Production Management department within the company (Figure 2) and, as a link between the company management and the Production department, for a continuous vertical integration.
Figure 2: Vertical Integration
Orders for a certain period are transferred to the MES from the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning System). The orders contain data necessary for execution. These include the lot number or the minimum expiration data of the product.
The MES plans all processes in detail while taking the current production status into account. Before the start of a production order, data are passed on to machines, quality sensors, marking devices and other devices, as well as working instructions to employees.
After completion of an order, feedback to the ERP is carried out with processed information like the actually produced quantity, waste quantities and material consumption.
An MES ideally provides the Production Management department with all functions it requires. These functions can be divided into the three function groups of Production, Quality and Personnel (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: MES functions
The unification of all functions in a software system and the connection of all elements involved in production to the MES enable horizontal integration. Unnecessary double data acquisitions and interfaces are avoided.
An escalation management system is assigned to the function groups, which quickly indicates faults via operating terminals, by phone or with instant messaging.
From industries in which MESs are already used in all areas, it is known that the effectiveness of the processes can be increased with MESs by 7 to 10%. Our customers will therefore increasingly focus on Manufacturing Execution Systems in the years to come.
With its own line management system and the line cockpit, Gerhard Schubert GmbH offers outstanding software tools which can be developed further to obtain a customized MES system.