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Traditional vs Fast-Tracked MES™


Made with complete, high-quality fresh ingredients, served while hot, and best when shared -- this is how we want our food. But these apply to data too -- it has to be detailed, accurate, given in a timely manner, and circulated across the corporate table in order to sustain confident decision-making. 

The importance of reliable data is highlighted most significantly in the fast-paced food manufacturing industry who cannot afford any delay in production.  Organizations can not afford to waste raw materials or overspend on wages. The need for an automated data collector and analyst software is even more augmented during the current global crisis. 

That's where the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) can literally help to “save the day”. MES monitors shop floor data to provide manufacturers with insights on their equipment, personnel, and production processes. MES is certainly beneficial to manufacturing industries; nevertheless, you should be careful when making a choice between traditional and fast-tracked™ software.

To better appreciate the contrast between traditional and fast-tracked™ MES, we must first understand what MES is, how it works, who it is for, and what benefits it can offer. All these are going to be tackled in this blog.

What exactly is MES?

The Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is an information system that monitors, collects, synchronizes, and analyzes data regarding the processes involved in transforming raw materials into finished goods. This gives manufacturers crystal-clear visibility on the physical processes on their factory floor.

In the Purdue Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) Reference Model, MES is integral in the Level 3 system or the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM). It is preceded by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Material Requirements Planning (MRP) solutions in the Level 4 system. ERP/MRP overlaps with MES functions in that both collect data from the production line; however, ERP/MRP operates on a monthly or daily basis and gathers data to be used for planning and logistics, whereas MES operates hourly to assist manufacturers in MOM as well as to provide performance reports from the shop floor.

Timeframes of Various Layers

Meanwhile, Level 2 and Level 1 systems are focused on monitoring and controlling the production processes -- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software on the Level 2 system monitors and manipulates the processes on the shop floor. In contrast, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is hardware in a Level 1 system used to control the electromechanical aspects of manufacturing processes. Level 0 systems are the physical production processes at the factory itself. 

This is probably a lot of information to digest; but simply put, MES is the basis of productivity in manufacturing that works along with other solutions to optimize production efficiency. All these systems need to be well-coordinated to increase productivity.

Is MES for you?

Whom is MES made for? This one's an easy question! 

Whether you are a data analyst, an IT specialist, an operation manager, or the CEO, if you deal with any of the following pain points, then it’s probably time you consider investing in MES. 

  • Increased waste: Higher wastes mean decreased yield so as much as possible, wastes should be kept to a minimum. For the food manufacturing industry, any delay in production could result in wasted resources since they use perishable materials.
  • Unsupervised performance: If Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) or employee performance is not monitored, you cannot minimize and handle the potential risks of equipment or human error.
  • Insufficient, delayed, or isolated data: Unreliable data and poor coordination cause faulty decision-making, which is disadvantageous when dealing with unavoidable operational problems.
  • “Hidden factory”: 40% of manufacturers suffer from the so-called hidden factory, which is simply the deficiencies along the production line. Hidden factories cause overhead costs to accumulate, which of course, no business would want. 

All these common pain points in the manufacturing industry are caused by the lack of floor level awareness -- not knowing where exactly the problem is and what causes it. These ultimately lead to big production delays and financial loss, perfectly demonstrating the need for MES solutions.

Six Benefits of MES Implementation

The ultimate benefit of MES implementation is enhanced productivity. But how does MES actually solve the common pain points? MES allows its users to:

  1. Switch to paperless systems: Manual data entry takes too much time and money. With an automated system, not only are there reduced costs, the risks of human error are also eliminated. 
  2. Track raw materials: Manufacturers can determine which materials are onhand and which can be reduced.
  3. Maintain machine efficiency: OEE monitoring and maintenance equals a smooth production process, resulting in reduced production time and better yield.
  4. Improve personnel performance: With the help of performance reports, managers can identify which aspects employees are struggling with and train them accordingly.
  5. Access accurate and collated data:  Manufacturers can recognize which points in the production line could cause delays so they can come up with strategic solutions. 
  6. Solve the hidden factory: Identify inefficiencies along in the manufacturing processes before they cause big production delays.

All these short-term advantages create a cascading sequence of long-term benefits: from reduced production time and overhead costs to increased productivity and yield, and finally, increased profits.

Traditional MES vs. Fast-Tracked™ MES

Choosing the right MES software for your company can be tricky because not all MES solutions are created equal. You can either enjoy all the benefits discussed or still carry your manufacturing burdens while paying for an unsatisfactory service based on what you choose.

While both traditional and Fast-Tracked MES aim to optimize the production efficiency, traditional MES systems have significant limitations.

Don’t get us wrong -- traditional MES solutions aid in the processes between the shop floor and the management by recording each MES event as it occurs, but it is not up to the challenge of modern manufacturing industries.

First of all, the implementation process is time-consuming. According to a 2021 market research report, it could take up to four (4) years to integrate the traditional MES software with the hardware of the shop floor as it may require various modifications during the installation. Since major traditional MES services are dependent on the post-implementation process, you can’t expect any positive impact on the production efficiency during the years of installation. This tedious process is, of course, accompanied by corresponding costs. Traditional MES software can also be too complicated without the assistance of IT specialists. 

However, what really sets traditional and fast-tracked MES apart is integration.

Fast-tracked MES is integrated with other operational functions in the Purdue Enterprise Hierarchy, i.e. with ERP (Level 4)  and PLC (Level 1) to improve production logistics, yield better products, and boost productivity -- all in one software. This means that fast-tracked MES doesn’t just focus on MOM (Level 3) alone but production planning and scheduling, workflow enforcement, OEE, and so on; whereas traditional MES concentrates solely on MOM. In addition, fast-tracked MES applies new technologies, e.g. smart sensors and cloud-based software, to keep pace with the current demands of the digital era. 

Why choose LiveTracking? 

The challenges traditional MES faces, LiveTracking saw as opportunities -- they optimized their MES services to align with customer needs. How, you ask?

LiveTracking offers an easy-to-use data-driven mobile app, available both on iOS and Android, to serve clients anytime and anywhere they go. It also utilizes smart sensors that are easy to install and integrate with the factory. These smart sensors analyze data patterns and monitor KPIs to track downtime, line speed, output, and more -- providing real-time visibility to the shop floor. Moreover, LiveTracking’s cloud-based software doesn’t just secure your company’s data safely, but also lets interdepartmental managers access accurate and detailed performance reports to help them make confident decisions. 

Nowadays, data is the nourishment that manufacturing industries need to sustain optimal business value in the modern era; and LiveTracking is the fast-tracked MES software that cooks up innovations to equip food manufacturers for the digital age. 

Hungry for more? Book a demo now. 

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