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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Barber

Implement MES to remove complexity from your ERP

Discover how implementing a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can streamline and simplify your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) processes.

Implementing MES can simplify your ERP.

Many companies today face the challenge of integrating various systems and processes to streamline their operations. One area where this integration is particularly important is between Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. MES can remove complexity from ERP, as well as enhancing and improving the data in ERP.

MES compliments ERP

ERP systems are designed to manage and integrate core business processes such as finance, human resources, and supply chain management. These systems have revolutionised the way organisations operate by providing a centralised platform for data management and streamlining operations. However, ERP systems are not designed to handle the complexities of shop floor operations, which require real-time monitoring and control. This is where MES comes in.

MES is specifically built to manage and control manufacturing operations, capturing real-time data from the shop floor and translating it into actionable insights. It acts as a bridge between the shop floor and the ERP system, enhancing the capabilities of both. By integrating MES with ERP, companies can achieve a seamless flow of information and reduce manual data entry and reconciliation efforts.

One of the key advantages of MES is its ability to collect data at various points in the production process. This includes machine performance data, quality control metrics, and inventory management information. By capturing this data in real-time, MES provides a comprehensive view of the manufacturing process, enabling organisations to identify bottlenecks, optimise production schedules, and make informed decisions.

MES enhances the accuracy and completeness of the data available in the ERP system. By feeding the real-time data collected from the shop floor into the ERP system, MES enriches the ERP system's data, so the ERP system can provide more accurate inventory levels, better production forecasts, and improved visibility into the entire manufacturing process.

Traditionally, shop floor data was manually recorded and then entered into the ERP system, leading to potential errors and delays. With MES, the data can be automatically captured and transmitted to the ERP system in real-time, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors.

ERP is not designed for use on the shopfloor

While ERP systems excel at managing business processes, they often fall short when it comes to capturing and analysing shop floor data. Traditional ERP systems lack the necessary granular level of detail required for effective shop floor management. Trying to force an ERP system to handle shop floor operations can result in complex and inefficient workarounds leading to custom ERP code.

User experience also suffers, because ERP systems are not designed for operational users.

On the other hand, MES is purpose-built for the shop floor. It allows for real-time monitoring of production lines, tracking of quality metrics, and visibility into machine status and performance. By implementing MES alongside ERP, companies can leverage the strengths of each system and ensure that the right tools are in place for each aspect of their operations.

The shop floor environment is dynamic and fast-paced, with numerous machines, operators, and processes working together. Without a specialised system like MES, it is challenging to capture and analyse the vast amount of data generated on the shop floor.

MES is specifically designed to address the unique needs of the shop floor. These systems provide real-time visibility into production lines, allowing operators and managers to monitor the status of machines, track production progress, and identify bottlenecks or issues that may arise. With MES, companies can capture granular data at every stage of the manufacturing process, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimise their operations.

A strength of MES is its ability to track quality metrics. Quality control is crucial in manufacturing, and MES provides the tools to monitor and improve product quality. MES can transfer quality data, such as inspection results and defect rates, from the shop floor to ERP for further analysis and decision-making. For example, the ERP may need to know the quality results of materials provided by a supplier to determine how much they will pay for the materials.

MES offer real-time visibility into machine status and performance. By monitoring key parameters such as machine downtime, and cycle times, operators can quickly identify any issues or inefficiencies and take immediate action. This proactive approach to machine management can significantly reduce downtime and improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

By implementing MES alongside ERP, companies can harness the strengths of each system. ERP provides the backbone for managing business processes and integrating data across the organisation, while MES systems offer the necessary granularity and real-time capabilities for effective shop floor management. This integration ensures that the right tools are in place for each aspect of the company's operations, enabling better decision-making, improved efficiency, and ultimately, a competitive advantage in the market.

I hear many people who are familiar with ERP, and just can't get their heads around the value an MES brings. But the value it brings is immeasurable. You'd never consider using an MES to do the job of an ERP, so why consider using an ERP to do the job of an MES?

Increasingly ERP is retracting back to it's core functions

Recently, market expectations have shifted and increasingly people expect ERP to retract back to its core functions. You may have heard Gartner talk about "Composable ERP", the idea here is that ERP should focus on providing a strong foundation for integrating various systems rather than trying to be a one-size-fits-all solution. That way, complimentary applications like MES can be strategically implemented to add value in the areas they specialise in.

This shift creates an opportunity for MES to take on a more prominent role in managing shop floor operations. By offloading manufacturing operation functions to MES, companies can simplify their ERP setup and reduce the complexity associated with maintaining and customising an all-encompassing ERP system.

This has enormous benefits, such as simpler ERP deployments, roll-out, and a lower cost of ownership.

One of the main reasons behind this shift is the increasing complexity of business processes. As companies grow and expand, their operations become more intricate and require specialised software solutions to handle specific tasks. ERP's, with their broad scope and all-encompassing nature, often struggle to keep up with these evolving needs. By focusing on their core functions, ERP systems can become more agile and flexible. They can adapt to changing business requirements more easily and focus more on user experience. This is particularly important in industries where agility and responsiveness are critical, such as manufacturing and supply chain management.

This shift allows companies to take advantage of the best-of-breed approach. Instead of relying on a single ERP to handle all their business processes, companies can select the most suitable software solutions for each specific task. This not only improves overall efficiency but also allows for greater customisation and specialisation. Having said that, choosing to implement ERP and MES from the same vendor brings enormous benefits, not least standard integrations.

The retraction of ERP to its core functions is a natural response to the increasing complexity of business processes and the increased prevalence of specialised software solutions.

MES removes the need for ERP extensions on the shop floor.

When trying to bridge the functionality gaps in ERP systems for shop floor operations, companies often resort to implementing custom extensions or integrations. These extensions can be costly to develop and maintain, and they may introduce additional risks and complexities to the overall system.

MES provides an alternative solution that eliminates the need for these custom extensions. By implementing MES alongside ERP, companies can leverage the out-of-the-box functionalities of both systems, reducing the need for complex integrations and customisations.

If customisations are required to cater with specific manufacturing processes then MES is the right place to make these changes because MES is responsible for those processes. MES is also generally a more flexible and agile solution than ERP, making changes quicker, and more cost-effective.

MES synchronises with ERP, so ERP is always up to date.

While ERP systems provide a high-level overview of the manufacturing process, MES captures more detailed and granular data. MES can track individual work orders, machine performance, material usage, and quality control metrics in real-time.

This level of detail enables companies to get a deeper understanding of their operations and identify opportunities for improvement. With the right set of analytics and reporting capabilities, MES can provide actionable insights that help drive operational excellence.

One of the key benefits of integrating MES with ERP is the synchronisation of data between the two systems. As MES captures real-time data from the shop floor, it updates the relevant information in the ERP system, ensuring that the ERP system always has the most up-to-date and accurate data.

This synchronisation helps maintain data integrity and eliminates the need for manual data entry or reconciliation. With real-time visibility into shop floor operations, companies can make informed decisions based on accurate and timely data, improving overall operational efficiency.

MES is designed for high volume, granular data. ERP doesn't benefit from high transaction rates and high data transfer. MES can reduce the load on ERP by sending back aggregated data periodically.

A common misconception is that implementing an MES means that ERP no longer has visibility of key information such as production volumes, traceability, and quality results. This couldn't be further from the truth, it's true that MES has more granular and detailed data, but ERP still has the at least the same level of data as it would have without an MES, because MES keeps ERP up to date.

More often than not the introduction of MES significantly improves the quality of data in ERP, because MES posts "actuals" back to ERP, improving the accuracy of ERP costings, which are usually estimated through methods like backflushing.

Accurate costings are crucial for companies to understand their profitability and make informed business decisions. So, relying solely on estimates can lead to inaccuracies and volatility in cost calculations.

MES provides actual data on machine usage, labour hours, material consumption, energy usage, and much more. This ensures that the costings are based on real-time data, improving the accuracy of financial reporting and enabling companies to make more precise cost projections. MES supercharges your ERP.

MES and ERP working together is a game-changer

The synergy between MES and ERP is a game-changer for companies looking to streamline their operations and level-up their productivity and effectiveness. By integrating these two systems, companies can achieve a holistic view of their entire manufacturing process, from resource planning to execution.

MES and ERP working together provide real-time visibility into production operations, enable data-driven decision making, and facilitate seamless information flow across the organisation. This integration empowers companies to optimise their processes, reduce costs, improve productivity, and ultimately gain a competitive edge in the market.

Removing complexity from ERP is highly beneficial

Complex ERP setups can often become a barrier to agility and innovation. The more customisations and integrations added to an ERP system, the more difficult it becomes to maintain and upgrade.

By implementing MES alongside ERP, companies can remove some of the complexity associated with ERP and reduce the burden on IT teams, as well as the cost of ownership. MES offers a standardised solution for managing shop floor operations, freeing up resources to focus on other critical aspects of the business.

Getting MES and ERP right gives you a competitive advantage

In today's competitive business landscape, companies must continuously seek ways to gain a competitive advantage. The integration of MES and ERP systems is one such opportunity.

By implementing MES alongside ERP, companies can simplify their operations, improve data accuracy, streamline processes, and gain real-time visibility into their manufacturing operations. This combination of enhanced capabilities enables companies to make better-informed decisions, optimise their workflows, and stay ahead of the competition.

Implementing MES can simplify your ERP and provide numerous benefits to your organisation. By integrating these two systems, companies can achieve a seamless flow of information, eliminate complexity, improve data accuracy, and gain a competitive advantage. The synergy between MES and ERP brings together the strengths of each system, enabling companies to drive business success.

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