Smart manufacturing and the continuing need for MES

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) are still useful even with smart manufacturing because they provide a fundamental base for every smart production solution.


The phrase "smart manufacturing" has become part of every discussion related to manufacturers' need for a manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management (MOM). Some might be under the impression that smart manufacturing has done away with the need for MES to support the coordination of operations processes, but that is not the case.

The focus of smart manufacturing is about the availability of information allowing timely and correct decisions to optimize competitiveness. The scope of influence of the definition obviously goes beyond the simple production operations, and is interested instead in the company as a whole through the integration of strategic, commercial, organizational design, production and distribution processes.

In this context, MES/MOM systems constitute a fundamental base for every smart production solution. The MES architecture is typically pretty standard. It is an application that depends on a transactional database. The system always has a strong integration with both the field and with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which provides aggregated information.

On the path from the production lines to the ERP system, the collected data are correlated and aggregated for availability to all operators involved in the control chain, enabling them to better manage the production process. An MES does the following:

  • Provides information on the efficiency of a machine line or department to allow operators to minimize downtime or waste
  • Analyzes the need for raw material of production areas to ensure that it is available when needed while minimizing inventory in warehouses
  • Collects and processes information related to the use of raw materials in the production cycle to allow the management system to update the stock availability and correctly the calculate product cost
  • Guarantees traceability and tractability to minimize the impact of any recall actions
  • Tracks the progress of production to optimize the use of the machines.

All this constitutes just one of the tools necessary to achieve the smart manufacturing goal cited above. Smart manufacturing is not an alternative to the MES for that reason, but also because MES is a technological system while smart manufacturing is an approach to production.

Smart manufacturing leans on MES as well as other technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, analytics, mobile devices and customer supplier platforms to create an environment in which a company can be competitive, able to respond effectively. Smart manufacturing focuses on people, assets and processes, all of which must be coordinated with respect to diversity and requirements to achieve strategic business goals.

So, it's a serious mistake to think that hearing less about MES or MOM means that they are no longer needed or have been supplanted by other solutions. Today, more than ever, MES is a key strategy for organizational and technological growth that can guarantee the health or survival of an organization in a competitive environment that is much more dynamic than it has been in the past.

Luigi De Bernardini is CEO of Autoware and is a member of MESA's marketing committee and smart manufacturing working group. This article originally appeared on MESA International's blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

ONLINE extra

See additional stories about smart manufacturing linked below.

Anonymous , 06/16/16 08:42 AM:

It would seem to the casual on looker that Smart Manufacturing is a rebranding of MES/MOM. MESA has a huge repository of how to implement MES. Smart Manufacturing is an improved means of describing what is possible. Together MES plus Smart Manufacturing is a combination for value creation through the deployment of manufacturing IT solutions.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me