Why is a Manufacturing Execution System and ERP integration important? An MES or Manufacturing Execution System is an IT solution on the shop-floor level. It is indispensable for the production planning and execution of production processes for many manufacturing companies.
While MES software organizes at the process level, ERP software orchestrates the parent enterprise level. What could be more natural than integrating both to be even slimmer and more efficient?
This article looks at the benefits of MES ERP integration and shows how this integration can succeed.
Lean production thanks to the Manufacturing Execution System and ERP
The ERP software knows about inventories and sales orders, while manufacturing execution systems control production planning and control. For example, when the two work together, companies can react more flexibly and quickly to fluctuations in demand and serve customers on a just-in-time basis.
A real-time data exchange between the business level and the manufacturing level would increase overall equipment effectiveness, reduce throughput times, and provide management with a better basis for decision-making.
Adjust production in real time
In an integrated MES-ERP software system, the ERP software could forward changes in demand directly to production planning. This would make production volumes more responsive to demand and make the company leaner and more efficient.
IoT technologies can further streamline manufacturing. If workpieces and parts are equipped with RFID chips that track production progress, the shop floor could largely automate replenishment orders and JIT inventory - the need would simply be passed on to the ordering system in ERP.
If you underestimate the demand, there is a risk that your ability to deliver will end just when the customer orders are highest. This damages the sales as well as the customer relationship.
On the other hand, if you overestimate demand, inventory investment drives profitability. Capital needed elsewhere is literally in the dump.
Integration of MES and ERP provides much more accurate demand forecasts than ERP software alone, mitigating the risks of overproduction or underproduction.
Avoid urgent orders
Manufacturing companies with an integrated ERP and manufacturing execution system have the necessary visibility to stock up in time before inventory falls below a critical threshold. This is advisable to deliver to customers on time.
Otherwise, in a hurry the required material must be brought in. In the supply chain, urgent orders are a risk. Often something goes wrong. Either the required quantities or qualities are not available or the delivery time can not be kept. Express surcharges and high transport costs for express delivery are incurred. Better transparency through ERP plus MES can prevent this.
Seamlessly implement change requests
The better the system integration, the more efficient the implementation of changes. If the customer wants to make changes to the product, the ERP component should forward its requirements to the MES software as quickly as possible in order to avoid delivery delays.
Conversely, the MES software must communicate changes in the production processes in a timely manner to the higher-level ERP software so that the price calculation and the delivery time can be adjusted at the business level.
IoT for more process quality
Manufacturing execution systems streamline manufacturing by monitoring all ongoing work, analyzing it in real time, and tracking the entire lifecycle of materials and products. Quality issues are reported via IoT sensor networks to the integrated MES ERP system. These notifications then trigger appropriate troubleshooting.
Even predictive maintenance can be better implemented in such an integrated system. Downtimes can be avoided by dynamically adapting production processes - always along the demand, because the ERP software is involved.
MES-ERP integration - that's how it works
Experts predict that Industry 4.0 will increasingly blur the boundaries between MES and ERP systems.
The planning level of the ERP software feeds the granular production planning of the MES and this fine planning is in turn fed back to the company level to inform typical ERP functions. This creates a control loop between planning and production that also allows ambitious goals to be within reach.
Manufacturing Execution System: How is MES integrated into ERP?
Today, however, many companies use manufacturing execution systems and ERP software from different manufacturers. Integrating both can be a challenge if the different software products speak different languages.
There are basically two approaches for MES-ERP integration:
- You acquire MES and ERP from a single source, as in-house integrated software
- You couple both solutions via an interface or middleware
MES and ERP in one software solution
ERP manufacturers specializing in the manufacturing industry already offer ERP software that is responsible for a good portion of the tasks of manufacturing execution systems.
The ERP software is supplemented by MES modules or functionalities. This has the advantage of a complete ERP MES integration.
If you can handle a solution from one source - finding a vendor that supports your processes in both business and production is the path of least resistance.
Pair stand-alone MES software with ERP
If you have an independent Manufacturing Execution System that optimally supports your processes on the shop floor, you probably want to keep it running - but not as a silo.
Most ERP solutions have programming interfaces (APIs) to connect to third-party software. Here you should start and check whether the data models and protocols allow close integration of both elements.
Your ERP provider can help you set up the interface according to your wishes. This is not a trivial task, because you not only want a pure data interface, but an intelligent, bidirectional exchange of information. It is best if you not only have a standard data exchange, but the content that can be exchanged, individually determined.
Depending on which two software products you want to integrate, you must use a middleware or program the interface from scratch.
Looking for a new ERP? Download the guide: Selecting an ERP System in 7 Easy Steps
MES software streamlines production planning and manufacturing processes, while ERP software controls operations at the enterprise level. The integration of both components gives companies many advantages.
MES are today comprehensive manufacturing management systems. When combined with an ERP, they can plan, control and monitor the entire production cycle, from material capture to plant utilization, to production volumes, material usage or time spent. With the turn to Industry 4.0, MES continue to gain relevance because the sensor-controlled, automated factory without MES simply can not manage.
Optimum transparency, predictability and control are provided by integrating MES and ERP software. The easiest way is to get everything from one source.
However, if you have two monolithic solutions in use, you can still couple them using interfaces or middleware. This costs a little effort, but will pay off at the end of the day.