Manufacturing Execution System – or simply MES – is an information system aimed to drive the execution of manufacturing operations. The goal of such systems is to achieve and to maintain high efficiency in a highly competitive and fast changing manufacturing environment.

To achieve this target, MES performs a set of tasks in the shop floor, preferably integrated to other systems of the organization and supply chain:

  • Monitoring and steering the correct execution of the production process;
  • Monitoring and controlling material used in the production process;
  • Gathering information on the production process;
  • Providing tools to analyse data for efficiency optimization;
  • Delivering and managing work-instructions;
  • Providing procedure optimization tools;
  • Providing problem solving tools;

MES also plays a critical role in Industry 4.0, as it accommodates the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It is important to point out that not all MES are currently designed to accommodate the demanded integration, decentralization and new technologies of Industry 4.0.

The key benefits of a MES can be summarized as follows:

In the Short Time:In the Long Time:
  • Increased efficiency and reduced costs;
  • Reduction of data entry time;
  • Increase of data quality;
  • Reduction of manufacturing cycle time and order lead time;
  • Great reduction of paperwork;
  • Reduction of work in process (WIP) inventory;
  • Increase in machine utilization;
  • Overall improvement in processes;
  • Increased agility and time to market;
  • Improvement of supply chain visibility;


Differences between MES and ERP

An Enterprise Resource Planning – or just ERP – is a system conceived to support a homogeneous process with business operating information. MES, on the other hand, is the perfect choice for complex production processes with multiple variations and a massive number of transactions. Under the leading standard ANSI/ISA-95 MES can be seen as both, the translation layer between operation and process control, as well as the translation between business planning and logistics.

Both are critical systems for the manufacturing processes.

Recently, the link between ERP systems and MES has undergone a new trend of development, making the integration of both systems much easier, valuable and reliable.

Deciding which processes should be supervised by the MES and which by the ERP requires a detailed study, in order to steer the resources of both systems to results of excellence.