Article by Christos Adamopoulos, Sales Consultant of Athens Technology Center
Worldwide industry leaders are actively exploring solutions to enhance productivity and secure a competitive edge in their respective domains. In recent years, the pivotal response to this challenge has been the Digital Transformation of individual processing or manufacturing units, evolving them into “smart factories” within the overarching context of Industry 4.0.
At the heart of this transformative journey lies the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), functioning as the nerve center for production on the shop floor. To delve into specifics, MES systems comprehensively monitor production, furnishing stakeholders with a holistic view of project progress – encompassing completion percentages of production phases, efficiency metrics, utilization of machinery and labor, material consumption, and more. This gradual evolution of production practices culminates in enhanced profitability.
Main benefits of an integrated MES:
- Ensuring prompt and accurate alignment of production with sales, suppliers, inventory, and the broader distribution network (supply chain) to consistently achieve high success rates in meeting delivery times. This is facilitated by a seamless two-way data flow between ERP and the shop floor.
- Realizing cost savings through the optimized distribution of the company’s resources, encompassing machinery, personnel, raw materials, and consumables.
- Swift access to consolidated data and key performance indicators (KPIs) for production, including metrics such as rework, scrap, and equipment performance. This information can be dynamically presented through graphical representations.
- Oversight and evaluation capabilities for daily staff activities.
- Development and implementation of a proactive maintenance plan for machinery, resulting in reduced machine downtime and overall production idle time.
- Ensuring product traceability from production to customer shipment, incorporating Lot & Serial Number tracking.
- Streamlining and simplifying quality assurance practices within production processes.
- Instantaneous access to critical documents such as construction plans, product specifications, shipping slips, and other essential materials.
The essence of smart manufacturing lies in MES.
These systems empower industrial enterprises to seamlessly transition to Industry 4.0, leveraging IoT sensors that collect data from connected machines on the shop floor. MES ensures expansive access to superior and more accurate information, disseminating relevant data throughout the entire enterprise.
As the technologies characterizing smart manufacturing, such as Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), continue to evolve and gain wider adoption, MES systems are poised to play a pivotal role in managing production operations.
MES integration with ERP
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system seamlessly connects all departments within a business into a unified information platform. For instance, sales personnel have real-time access to the same data available to production scheduling managers. This real-time availability of data facilitates quicker and more accurate decision-making by management.
In this capacity, MES systems serve as the intermediary link between production and other departments (design, procurement, scheduling, storage, quality control, etc.). Synchronization between MES and ERP is paramount, creating an integrated information source for the enterprise. In simpler terms, while ERP identifies areas for improvement in the production process, MES illuminates the path to implementation.
Businesses relying on Epicor Kinetic – an end-to-end ERP that incorporates the MES system, available in Greece exclusively by Athens Technology Center (ATC)- report significant improvements, including a 34% increase in production capacity and a 12% boost in the efficient utilization of available equipment, according to recent IDC research.