5 Clues your MES is “at Home” in the Plant

Factory Line
Nothing like the site of a fresh factory floor in the morning.

It’s first thing in the morning, coffee in hand. You step out onto to plant floor to start up the production line. Machines hum in the background, workstation monitors displaying work instructions glow down the line, and the first order of the day has been loaded into the manufacturing execution system (MES).

5 Clues that your MES is “at home” in the plant:

1. Operators use the MES effortlessly the plant floor. The first complaints and concerns I hear when implementing an MES are how it will affect the operators on the line. Will the interactions with the screen affect the in-station takt time? Will the refresh rate slow operators down? Will the user interface be built in a way that the operators will use it?

When shop floor operators use a MES UI, it shows that the system is up and running. It is connected to the PLCS, and the line is running smoothly. It also means that the data collected in the MES can be trusted because it is collecting every workstation, not just individual ones. This means the data in the MES can be used to make adjustments and improve the performance of the plant.

2. Your MES seamlessly interfaces with your ERP.  Integration with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system makes life easier for the planners and schedulers. MES downloads the orders created for the day in the proper sequence, giving the schedulers peace of mind while preparing the operators what to build for the day. At various points in the line, MES sends the parts used on each order back to ERP, which automatically adjusts inventory, allowing finance to analyze and plan instead of manually counting parts.

3. Manufacturing Engineers create flexible, detailed work instructions in a variety of ways that meet the product’s design. Plants build more than one product and model type. When Manufacturing Engineers can use MES to give the operators the work instructions and development material they need the line runs smoothly and fewer quality issues are raised.

4. Quality checks are no longer a burden. Your manufacturing execution system makes it easy to record different types of defects. Operators can quickly enter issues they see or MES can automatically create a defect if a tool is run down incorrectly one too many times. More importantly, your MES has repair screens to capture rework performed to build a full history of the car; parts added, removed, torques re-run, and the time it all took. The MES repair station also lets operators enter the root cause and corrective action codes determined to help prevent the issue in the future.

5. Metrics provide feedback to Manufacturing Engineers and Plant Managers to make the floor, processes, and people run better. A good MES has multiple feedback loops and clearly displays the different metrics in the plant. From online production screens, showing the current cars on the line and their status, to detailed reports, the data collected and displayed by the MES helps to improve all within the plant when used.

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