MES systems, also identified as “factory software”, are not to be confused with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems normally called “business software” with which, however, they need to interface for real-time data acquisition and exchange.
Through this data exchange, an MES system is able to inform the people involved in the company’s production processes, about the activities of the production departments allowing the control and monitoring of these at all levels, ultimately enabling the optimization of the production processes themselves, the control of logistics and the availability of resources (human and machines). An MES solution, integrated with an ERP application enables complete control of the production chain.
While an MES solution needs to be integrated with an ERP, on the other hand – towards the production lines – it needs to be able to interact with data acquisition/exchange systems from/to the field (identified as PLCs – Programmable Logic Controllers and SCADA systems – Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition); in this way, the production process is fully manageable and responds to the characteristics related to Industry 4.0 digitalization.
There are several MES solutions that differ precisely in their ability to integrate with other systems and to be tailored to specific production needs.
An MES system helps achieve the business objectives that have been defined by strategic planning: based on the type of production system, it identifies and allows for reducing possible bottlenecks, controlling critical processing, and setting and governing constraints in the machine-operator relationship. It optimizes the size of volumes required and produced, thus stabilizes the production mix and enables optimization and reduction of lead time.