Warehouse Management System (WMS)

What Is Manufacturing Execution System (MES)?

Ngoc Lee
What Is Manufacturing Execution System (MES)?
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In the quest for competitive edge, manufacturers seek greater efficiency. Enter the Manufacturing Execution System (MES), akin to a rocket's mission control, enhancing production by overseeing procedures. We're going to go deep into everything about MES, and you'll know much more about manufacturing execution system benefits and whether it's a suitable fit for your company.

What is Manufacturing Execution System?

MES, standing for manufacturing execution system, is a complete, dynamic information system that tracks, records, and manages the whole manufacturing process from raw materials to final goods. 

What is Manufacturing Execution System
What is Manufacturing Execution System

The MES accomplishes this by tracking and collecting real-time data on every piece of equipment used in the manufacturing process, through order to delivery, across the whole production lifetime. 

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How Does a Manufacturing Execution System Work?

An MES provides the functional tier between the process control systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP), giving decision-makers the information they require to improve plant floor productivity. It doesn't matter the scale of a manufacturing business, an MES can increase overall efficiency and profitability by making the production process information-driven. 

Businesses can access data from a WIP (or work-in-progress), management, performance, traceability, and other facility activities all across the production cycle. Decision-makers can use this information to get in-depth advice on streamlining their processes. 

Because regulated businesses are required to follow tight standards to maintain traceability compliance, regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, medical devices, aeronautics and aerospace, defense, and biotechnology gain the most from regulation. In order to develop compliant products, they must ensure that the essential processes are in place, that they are recorded, and then the final items can be quickly recalled if required.

What are the Benefits of the Manufacturing Execution System?

It's crucial to comprehend all the advantages an MES will provide your company with if you're thinking about investing in one. Massive amounts of data are tracked by manufacturing execution systems, which generate real-time insights that can increase production efficiency and save costs. Here are some further instances of how an MES will help your factory or plant:

Benefits of the Manufacturing Execution System

Benefits of the Manufacturing Execution System
Benefits of the Manufacturing Execution System

Digital Manufacture

An MES allows for real-time data collection from the factory floors for labor, scrap, maintenance, and downtime. By doing this, you can keep track of all the different costs without utilizing spreadsheets or paper notes. It also assists in gathering pertinent data that can be used to assess unsuccessful business strategies and project future prices. You can improve efficiency and productivity on your factory floors with the help of MES.

Integration of ERP

As seen in the MESA paradigm, an MES enables system integration with other systems. With more precise delivery date forecasts and better decision-making through much more reliable data collecting, this removes the demand for stand-alone platforms and repetitive data re-entry.

Decrease in waste and increase in the effectiveness

The accuracy with which an MES can analyze production processes and finished goods is a crucial advantage. It can identify any irregularities on the sales floor and stop them right away to avoid material wastage and aid companies in reducing unnecessary costs. MES groups finished items or lots with the associated manufacturing data and track the full production lifecycle from start to finish. For manufacturers who must abide by governmental or commercial rules, this information enables better regulatory compliance.

Enhanced quality assurance

Companies using an MES are able to promptly shut down production as quickly as problems are discovered since quality assurance information is provided in real-time. As a result, there is less loss, scrap, waste, and rework.

Reduced downtime

An MES keeps track of the inventory of components and raw materials and develops accurate production plans. By doing this, the time lost from changing plans while components are on their way is eliminated. Applying this to staff will allow you to efficiently schedule the workforce that is on hand.

Lower costs

You can get real-time information on all of your operations through an MES. You can optimize processes and boost effectiveness by leveraging this real-time information to determine decisions about the commodity, time, and people needed to accomplish a job. In the end, this approach helps you cut costs associated with orders and releases staff from running manufacturing lines and managing inventory.

Reduced Inventory

Your inventory records are continuously updated by fresh manufacturing, materials, as well as products thanks to an MES. Your procurement, transportation, and planning departments will receive direct insights from this so they will see what is in stock and what must be purchased. It costs money to move, store, and monitor products. 

The MES makes sure you always have the proper stock on hand while minimizing overstock. All of these actions help produce a workforce that is more productive, has higher-quality products, and more profits. There are several MES options as well, like SaaS-based technology, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

11 Core MES functions

The 11 primary MES functions were established in 1997 by the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association International (MESA). Although the MESA-11 model has changed over time, the initial 11 main functions still serve as the core of today's MES and can be utilized to manage practically all types of plants. As follows: 

MESA-11 Model
MESA-11 Model
  1. Status and allocation of resources. Utilize real-time data to monitor and assess the condition of resources, such as machinery, supplies, and labor, in order to alter resource allocation.
  2. The detailed schedule for operations. By planning, timing, and ordering tasks according to priorities and available resources, you may maximize performance.
  3. Sending out production units. Manage the flow of production data in real-time to quickly and intelligently alter production dispatching.
  4. Document management. Manage and disseminate documents so they are available for editing and include job instructions, illustrations, standard procedures, batch records, and so on.
  5. Acquisition and data gathering. Track and gather actual data on activities, materials, and procedures and utilize it to inform choices and boost productivity.
  6. Labor administration. Track employee schedules, credentials, and authorizations to improve labor management with much less time and money spent by management.
  7. Quality control. For better quality management as well as reporting, keep track of quality variations and exceptions.
  8. Process control. From order submission to final items, supervise the entire manufacturing. Gain knowledge of quality-affecting bottlenecks and spots while establishing complete production traceability.
  9. Management of maintenance. Utilize information from your MES to predict possible equipment problems and modify your equipment, tooling, and maintenance of machinery schedules to decrease downtime and boost productivity.
  10. Products genealogy and tracking. To make wise decisions, keep tabs on your products' development and history. For producers who must adhere to governmental or industry laws, having access to a product's complete history is quite helpful.
  11. Performance evaluation. In order to discover process shortcomings and strengths and improve system efficiency, evaluate results and objectives.

A history of MES standards

The International Society of Automation (or ISA), which developed the ISA-95 criterion in the late 1990s, recognized the requirement for consistent terminology and an information model to identify and combine the activities between organization and control systems. 

The MESA-11 approach concentrates on core MES features. ISA-95 facilitates efficient interaction between stakeholders, including manufacturers and suppliers by standardizing terminology. 

Additionally, when combining manufacturing locations with business operations, consistent models lower the risk of mistakes. In order to create different layers of business process and technology process, ISA-95 specifies the interface between management and business functions. Manufacturing execution systems are positioned at level 3 of that structure. 

A history of MES standards
A history of MES standards

MES Architecture

The "MESA-11" model, developed by the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International, which strives to enhance operational efficiency in production through the efficient application of IT, specified the parameters of MES in 1997. The oldest MES model, MESA -11, lists the following 11 essential functions of an MES. 

The MESA-11 model and the Purdue Reference Model were combined to create a functional hierarchy under the ANSI/ISA-95 standard. In this architecture, MES was formed at level 3, which sits in between levels 0, 1, and 2 of process control and level 4 of enterprise resource planning (ERP). Here is the position of MES as per the ISA-95 functional hierarchy: 

The position of MES as per the ISA-95
 The position of MES as per the ISA-95

In order to give companies real-time workflows insight, flexibility, and information on how they can best optimize enterprise-wide production facilities, the MES system is considered a functional area between the enterprise resource planning and the process management systems on the production floor. 

Besides carrying out these essential tasks, an MES allows manufacturers to meet the regulatory compliance requirements established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some regulated sectors are biotechnology,  food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, medical device manufacturing, and the development of biologics. 

It also helps manufacturers to meet regulatory compliance requirements for agreement research organizations. In accordance with Title 21 CFR Pt.11 and Pt. 820 of the FDA rules, MES keeps an "as-built" or DHR (or device history record) for every unit of product and batch by gathering data, operations, and results of the production process. 

Furthermore, an MES can be advantageous for process manufacturing in the chemical, power and energy, oil and gas, pulp and paper, aerospace, defense, as well as automotive industries.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Integration

It is not a question of choosing between MES and ERP in the modern production environment; instead, MES and ERP combined deliver operational visibility in which neither system alone can. 


ERP is focused on obtaining data about your company, and establishing and controlling plant schedules, which include manufacturing, material consumption, delivery, and shipment. Conversely, MES concentrates on controlling and monitoring the production process and providing real-time data on manufacturing line activity. 

An integrated environment that provides a comprehensive perspective of finance, sourcing, supply chain management, industrial logistics, and other areas is created when an ERP and an MES work together. Integrating that data improves forecasts on anything from selling to resource utilization to factory management and boosts agility while supplying solid facts. 

An MES combines ERP statistics with factory floor information to figure out how to make those commodities with less expense and much more profit. ERP systems provide you with data to decide what commodities to produce. 

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Manufacturing execution systems' future is highly related to that of manufacturing as a whole. Without a question, manufacturers are able to execute their future factories thanks to MES systems as Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) become more widespread. You may be asking yourself, "Why doesn't everybody own an MES?" at this point. 

In fact, not everyone should use manufacturing execution systems. 

Smaller manufacturers can realize that their production capacities are insufficient to support a second software system. They can also think that their profit margins do not even support this kind of spending. Therefore, you must consider your alternatives and decide whether an MES is worthwhile for your manufacturing business, just like with any other piece of technology.

Ngoc LeeNgoc Lee is an Content Creator Manager at EFEX. She wields her long-term expertise in Logistics and Supply Chain, harnessing her top-notch writing and research skills to bring incredibly valuable content. Whether you're a small startup or a well-established enterprise, Ngoc Lee is here to equip you with the essential knowledge of e-commerce, fulfillment, and all things business-related.