The Capabilities of MES for Complex Discrete Manufacturing

Posted by Annette Grotz on October 18, 2018

MES Capabilities for Complex Discrete Manufacturing

Are Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Built for Engineer to Order Manufacturers?

Post two in a dedicated series reviewing sections from the eBook “What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing,” written by Conrad Leiva, vice president of Product Marketing and Alliances at iBASEt.

The Capabilities of MES

While the bottom line objective of almost any change on the manufacturing floor is meant to improve efficiency, a manufacturing execution system (MES) can extend these efficiency improvements throughout the enterprise by the data it collects and later reports.

When you cross reference the required capabilities of a MES with the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International ISA-95 and ISO-9001 frameworks, you will likely get the chart below.  

What are the Capabilities of MES?

Most MES systems should have eight common capabilities:

  1. Process Definition Management
  2. Production Jobs Dispatch
  3. Resources Management
  4. Products and Parts Tracking and Genealogy
  5. Process Execution Management
  6. Data Collection and Programmable Equipment
  7. Production Performance Analysis
  8. Production Quality Management.

Often because of the nature of what they produce, complex discrete manufacturers require many unique system features. Additionally, industry-specific requirements should be directly handled by the MES to quell the need for workarounds or costly add-ons. Ensuring your needs are met from one end of the manufacturing process to the other will only benefit or improve user adoption rates, total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI).

Complex discrete manufacturers generally agree on four distinct requirements:

  1. Vigilant Resources Certification Management
  2. Complex Product/Process Configuration and Change Management
  3. Detailed Integrated Quality Control Processes
  4. Detailed Product Unit History and Records Archival.


What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing?


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Manufacturing Resources Certification

Both personnel and equipment need documentation. Equipment maintenance should be current, in particular, “measurement equipment used to verify the product.” The maintenance and calibration processes must be standardized and documented. The personnel operating the equipment need proof of their competencies. Their qualifying processes should also be standardized and documented. An MES system helps by keeping track of these needed verifications and building the requirements into the manufacturing process.

Product and Process Configuration and Change Management

“As built” needs to be an exact match of “as designed.” When manufacturing complex products like a fighter jet or a simulation system, engineering changes are part of the process. The engineering system must be tied to the MES to ensure a seamless flow of information between the product development, manufacturing planning, and manufacturing execution teams. MES is built to ensure the right people have the right information at the right time.

Built-in Quality Control

Quality control is critical to complex discrete manufacturers as their engineer-to-order products have a long trail of high investment costs. Scrapping is rarely an option. Instead, they turn to rework, repair and deviation handling procedures.

MES handling both production processes and quality control will provide built-in capabilities that include in-process inspection and verification steps, statistical process control, out-of-control conditions alerts, and the ability to handle discrepancies, such as defect containment and corrective actions to eliminate recurrence. Furthermore, MES builds in more control by ensuring the deviation instructions are not skipped by those performing the work. Finally, the deviation history is documented as part of the product unit’s history.

Detailed Product Unit History and Records Archival

When you think of a Boeing 737 having 367,000 parts, tracking these parts, who touched them, and when, would be paper chaos if MES did not handle this. “MES documents exactly who, what, when, how, and why—like who completed the job, what equipment was used, which parts were replaced, and who approved the changes.” Manufacturers working on Department of Defense contracts are required to have this traceability information according to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). A report for the contracting officer can be pulled in a matter of a few clicks with MES.

Next Steps

Learn why manufacturers are looking to integrate their manufacturing operations systems with their financial management system, as well as other core business systems, to improve process efficiency and cost containment across their entire enterprise. See how Costpoint Manufacturing Solutions can help.

This blog is a summary of the second section of the eBook “What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing,” written by Conrad Leiva, vice president of Product Marketing and Alliances at iBASEt.

This blog is part of a series. Read the first post in the series What is Complex Discrete Manufacturing? What is MES? To automatically receive updates, subscribe to the Government Contracting blog on this page.