Tracking Work in Progress, Product Genealogy and Shelf Life with Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

Posted by Annette Grotz on March 14, 2019

Tracking Work in Progress Genealogy Shelf Life with MES

By Annette Grotz, Product Marketing Manager, Deltek

Post six 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. This post summarizes the section on production quality management.

Properly managing materials is key to ensuring manufacturing operations teams have the right parts, in the right place, at the right time. Integrating a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) with the inventory system will help facilitate the seamless flow of materials and the information surrounding these materials.


What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing


Download Now


Parts Issue and Kitting

Work-in-process parts need to be tracked in real time from the moment they are marked out of stock, moved and stored throughout the shop floor, and finally used or installed. Component part locations can be pinpointed to a storage cart, shelf or bin, and should be labeled for the operation, work order and target work center.

According to the eBook “What is MES in Complex Discrete Manufacturing,” some of the types of parts picking and work centers MES should be able to support include:

  • MES can generate a parts pick list for each operation that is either sent to the inventory system via interface, or carried manually to the stockroom by the mechanic.
  • Pick list can be generated by the inventory system. Transactions for parts issued out of the stockroom to production can be sent directly from the inventory system to MES via an integration interface.
  • Stockroom (or material handling) personnel might do parts kitting for each work order (or operation) before a job is dispatched to the manufacturing personnel. Kits are then placed in the staging area for each production work center.

One method of detecting part shortages earlier in the process is kitting. By kitting components into bins prior to starting a job and revealing any part shortages from the beginning, midway job stops are reduced, as are instances of miscounting of in-process parts, and, in some cases, losses and damage.

MES also tracks WIP inventory for parts issued to jobs but have yet to be installed. The parts are automatically reduced and recorded once they go through production and are installed. The inventory system may receive back flushing signals from MES to record parts issued based on the quantities of completed product.

Work-In-Process Product Tracking

Tracking material and product on the shop floor is made much easier when storage areas, bins and parts issued are barcoded.

This allows for product units can be tracked by serial, lot or work order number. The work order routing in the MES will reveal the physical location of the product, as well as “show the movement of the product units from one work center to the next as the operations are completed.”

Tagging major subassemblies and manufactured components to an end-unit number, like a ship number or aircraft tail number, is another helpful tracking capability.

Parts Installation Records and Product Genealogy

MES maintains a complete genealogy of component parts and materials used throughout the assembly process to ultimately comprise the product history and audit trial. “This includes part number (and revision), serial number, lot number, spool number, and vendor CAGE [Commercial and Government Entity] code.”

What makes all of this very powerful is that the MES can then compare the as-built bill of materials (BOM) to the as-designed BOM at the desired engineering change level. And, each product unit can then be verified as having been manufactured or assembled according to all applicable engineering change notices.

Supply chain quality issues can be identified faster with backward and forward traceability of the parts data genealogy. Many manufacturers find this information critical in “recovering quality costs, narrowing down the scope in the event of a product recall, and limiting exposure to additional risk associated with low quality suppliers (or suppliers that do not correct issues promptly).”

Material Shelf Life and Expiration

Finally, MES helps manufacturers handle materials that have expiration dates by flagging said material and requiring users to confirm and record the expiration date prior to use. Composite materials and their “out time” can also be tracked by 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.

Be sure to catch up on previous installments in this series:

To automatically receive updates about this blog series and other informational topics, subscribe to the Deltek Government Contracting blog on this page.