What is an MES solution? Everything you need to know about manufacturing execution systems

Brahm Meka
August 21, 2023
6 min
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Worker using a manufacturing execution system to track his work

By keeping your manufacturing centers lean, agile, and efficient, you can more easily meet customer demand while staying ahead of the competition. Doing so, however, requires a level of ground-floor insight that can be difficult to obtain. For that, you'll need an MES solution. 

In this guide, we're going to cover the basics of a manufacturing execution system (MES) from A to Z: what it is, what it does, and how your business can benefit from using one. 

What is an MES solution?

An MES solution, or manufacturing execution system, is a software platform that gives you a ground level of insight into how your manufacturing centers are performing. You can use an MES solution to monitor the performance of manufacturing equipment, bots, machinery, and workers. 

Additionally, most MES solutions will include a set of features that will help you synchronize and optimize these operations. This way, you can ensure that the various facets of your manufacturing centers are working in harmony and operating at maximum efficiency. 

Manufacturing execution systems can monitor multiple worksites at once, giving you valuable insights and management tools for handling downtime, resource management, logistics, materials tracking, and more. 

How an MES solution can help your business

The core benefits that an MES solution can offer your business are data, shop-floor insights, and the tools you need to keep things running smoothly in the face of workflow variations. 

These variations can range from predictable wear and tear to operator mistakes and power outages. Without an MES solution, you're left to estimate (or guess) how these variations are going to impact your workflow. Will they change the materials you need to order? How will they delay your process, and which aspects of your productivity will experience the delay? 

An MES makes navigating these challenges simple, fast, and predictable. This allows you to more accurately expect and respond to these challenges, creating a better experience for your workers, managers, and customers. 

What are the core functions of an MES solution?

To achieve these results, most MES solutions will offer a few core functions. These functions are outlined below to give you a better idea of how a manufacturing execution system works to streamline and monitor your operations. 

Data collection

To understand your operations, an MES solution collects data. That data comes from monitoring your machinery, workflows, schedules, labor, resources, and more. In 2021, you've no doubt experienced the value that data can provide businesses with on a firsthand basis. An MES not only provides you with data, but it can activate those vital numbers as well. 

Data is one of the most valuable assets in your warehouse and it's already there. Without an MES solution, though, your ability to take advantage of that data is limited. Employing a manufacturing execution system will help you stay a step ahead of the competition and maximize the resources at your disposal. 

Managing personnel

Most MES solutions on the market also manage aspects of your personnel. This includes scheduling, time logs, qualifications, and escalation management. You can take advantage of this process to reduce managerial tasks and improve the productivity of your workers. 

Just like your data, your staff is one of the most valuable resources in your manufacturing centers. Making the most of that value, however, is not always a straightforward process. A MES solution can ease the process by reducing friction and optimizing workflows. By doing so, it creates a better experience for you and your staff right from ordering to shipping. 

Product traceability

In recent years, the importance of product traceability has increased substantially. Individuals are more interested than ever before in where their products are coming from, how they're being sourced, and whether or not the labels they're seeing on packages are accurate. 

With an MES solution, you can provide a higher level of accuracy in your product tracing, for you and your customers. This will provide higher reliability in reporting, especially when it comes to medical equipment and food, improving your sustainability goals, and allowing you to instill more confidence in your customers. 

Quality control

Similar to improving your product traceability, MES solutions can also bolster your quality control. This is done by tracking the data you already have on quality control and giving you the tools to maximize it. 

An MES solution can also give you more control over the quality of your products by implementing ground-level, in-process quality monitoring, while providing corrective and preventive action and verifying your goods at various stages of the manufacturing process. 

Performance analysis

One of the most valuable insights that an MES solution can offer your manufacturing operation is performance analysis. In a sector like manufacturing, where performance is directly tied to the output and quality of your production, monitoring your performance is critical. 

A manufacturing execution system provides performance analysis through familiar key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can include overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), rework, and process capability. Again, this data is already within your manufacturing centers. An MES solution can help you capitalize on it and optimize your performance along the way. 

What are the benefits of using an MES solution?

There are several benefits to using an MES solution, many of which you can likely piece together just by understanding how a manufacturing execution system works. To give you a holistic idea of the benefits you'll see after using an MES solution, here are some of the most common. 

Cut costs

First and foremost, an MES solution can help your organization cut costs. It does this in several ways. 

The primary way that an MES reduces your overhead is by streamlining your operations. You'll experience fewer errors, improved timing, and better allocation of your resources. Naturally, these can all reduce your expenses. 

Additionally, by making your operations more productive and efficient, you'll reduce your cost, thereby saving (or earning) your operation more cash. 

Reduce your inventory

Another benefit you'll experience while using an MES solution is a reduced inventory. It's not uncommon for manufacturers to carry more products and materials than they expect to sell or use, even if the additional materials are minimal. 

In most cases, the manufacturer doesn't realize they have extra inventory or they're keeping extra inventory as a safeguard against variation. 

Since a manufacturing execution system provides you with tools to manage variations and more accurately monitor your inventory, you can keep a more accurate level of inventory on hand. This can also cut costs, making it a doubly powerful benefit. 

Decrease your waste

Along with improved inventory management comes decreased waste. You'll have fewer unused materials and resources, which will allow you to trim your operation. 

This benefit not only comes from new methods of managing your inventory but also allocating and monitoring your workflows. You'll be better able to spot inconsistencies and redundancies in your worksite, replace ineffective machinery, anticipate interruptions, and otherwise refine your manufacturing process. 

Get rid of paperwork

As a byproduct of these other benefits, you'll also see your paperwork go down. That's because there will be fewer errors to report, materials to account for, interruptions to log, and waste to account for. By trimming your operations, you'll also be trimming out your menial tasks. 

An MES solution can also help you get rid of paperwork by automating certain processes that would normally require paperwork on your end. Product traceability, for instance, is something that would normally require careful observation and reporting. Since an MES can handle this for you, there is less reporting (and therefore less paperwork) for you to do by hand. 

Should you use MES?

For certain industries, an MES solution is a must. That includes perishables, food, and healthcare equipment. In these sectors, manufacturing execution systems are key to maintaining uncompromised standards. 

For other sectors, however, an MES solution might not be a necessity. To decide if a manufacturing execution system is right for your business, you'll need to evaluate your operation's needs. 

Consider the features offered by an MES solution and the benefits these features create. Do they line up with your goals? Are they reflective of your overall strategy? 

Additionally, you'll want to consider the tools your organization is already using to monitor and refine your manufacturing. An MES solution is just one component of that system. It will need to integrate with your existing software and strengthen it, not convolute it. 

If an MES solution aligns with your goals and is compatible with other systems you already have in place, then it can be a great investment, keeping you ahead of the competition and improving your site and customer experiences. 

Demo a manufacturing execution system with Brahmin Solutions

Are you interested in trying an MES solution for yourself? You can demo one today by reaching out to Brahmin Solutions. Our team will not only provide you access to our manufacturing execution system, but we will also discuss your opportunities, needs, and concerns as you test the platform. 

Reach out to Brahmin Solutions today to learn more.

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Brahm Meka
Founder & CEO

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