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MES Software Fails to Deliver Factory Floor Visibility for Discrete Manufacturers

MES software is a powerful tool for optimizing production processes and driving efficiency in manufacturing operations. However, MES software falls short when it comes to providing visibility on the factory floor for discrete manufacturers.

The Limitations of MES for Discrete Manufacturers

  1. Complexity of Production Processes: Discrete manufacturing involves producing a wide range of products with varying configurations, specifications, and production requirements. MES software struggles to provide real-time visibility into the complexity of these processes. This makes it challenging to track and manage production activities effectively. Likewise, what your plant is making today is not going to be the same as tomorrow when adjusting to customer orders. A manufacturing dashboard is needed to pull that real-time data into a format your plant managers can understand.
  2. Limited Granularity: MES software often lacks the granularity required to capture detailed information about individual production units, materials, and components in a highly dynamic manufacturing environment. Therefore limiting the ability to monitor and optimize production processes at a granular level. They focus on the broad picture of what should be happening on the factory floor that day. Not the minute-by-minute visibility of what is happening for each line.
  3. Inflexibility: Many MES software systems are designed for traditional, repetitive manufacturing environments where production processes are rigid and standardized. Thinks of a process plant that creates the same product over and over again. Discrete manufacturers operate in dynamic and flexible production environments. This requires them to have adaptable systems capable of handling a wide range of product variations and production scenarios. A battery factory is going to be making more than AAs. Depending on the day and demand, there may be a dozen different models that are in production.

The Purpose and Strengths of MES Software

  1. Process Automation: MES software automates and streamlines manufacturing processes. This includes order processing, scheduling to production tracking, quality control, improving operational efficiency, and reducing manual interventions.
  2. Resource Optimization: MES software optimizes resource utilization by coordinating production activities. This allows manufacturers to allocate resources effectively and minimize downtime through proactive maintenance scheduling and real-time monitoring.
  3. Quality Assurance: MES software ensures product quality and compliance with regulatory standards. Quality is achieved by implementing robust control measures, tracking production variables, and providing traceability throughout the manufacturing process.

MES Strengths in Rigid Production Systems

Meanwhile, one area where MES software does excel is in environments where production processes are rigid and repetitive. These environment include:

  1. High Volume Production: MES software is well-suited for managing the high-volume production of standardized products with consistent specifications and production requirements. Think of a factory that makes bleach. Each step of the process to make bleach is regulated and can be tracked. The only variation in the end product is the size of the container that the bleach will be poured into.
  2. Predictable Workflows: In environments with predictable workflows and well-defined process steps, MES software automates tasks, enforces standard operating procedures, and minimizes variability in production processes. In this hypothetical plant, each shift comes in knowing exactly what they will be working on because it rarely changes.
  3. Batch Manufacturing: MES software is effective in batch manufacturing environments where products are produced in predefined quantities with consistent processing parameters and recipes. For example, a shipment that always requires 100 boxes will have a predictable process with pre-set availability and planned throughput.

MES Software Weaknesses for Tracking Flexible Production Systems

Despite its strengths, MES software has difficulty adapting to the daily changes that occur in discrete manufacturing lines.

  1. Variability in Production: Discrete manufacturing involves producing a wide range of products with varying specifications, configurations, and production requirements. MES software struggles to adapt to the dynamic nature of these production environments and may lack the flexibility to accommodate rapid changes in production schedules or product configurations.
  2. Complexity of Operations: The complexity of discrete manufacturing operations, including multi-level bills of materials, complex routing and sequencing requirements, and frequent changeovers, poses challenges for MES software in providing real-time visibility and control over production processes.
  3. Limited Scalability: MES software will face scalability issues when deployed in flexible production environments with high product variability and frequent changeovers. Scaling up or down to accommodate changes in production volume or product mix may require significant customization and reconfiguration of the MES software.

Why Discrete Manufacturers Need a Production Monitoring System

To overcome the limitations of MES software and achieve real-time visibility on the factory floor, discrete manufacturers need a dedicated production monitoring system. Here are a few overall reasons why you need a production monitoring system like Mingo Smart Factory:

  1. Granular Visibility: Production monitoring systems provide visibility into the production process. They capture real-time data on equipment performance, production metrics, and OEE scores at the individual unit or component level.
  2. Adaptability: Production monitoring systems are designed to adapt to the dynamic nature of discrete manufacturing environments. They are flexible enough to accommodate changes in production schedules, product configurations, and process parameters in real time.
  3. Scalability: Production monitoring systems offer scalability to support growing manufacturing operations. They work for small-scale production facilities as well as multi-site enterprises, without compromising performance or functionality.
  4. Analytics and Insights: Production monitoring systems leverage advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms. This allows them to analyze production data, identify trends, patterns, and anomalies, and provide actionable insights. Manufacturing analytics can be flagged in the dashboard, viewed on a scoreboard from the factory floor or sent out automatically as a mobile alert.

Optimize Your Production Process with Production Monitoring

While MES software offers valuable capabilities for optimizing production processes in manufacturing, it often falls short in providing real-time visibility on the factory floor for discrete manufacturers. The overall dynamic and flexible nature of discrete manufacturing operations requires a dedicated production monitoring system. One that can adapt to changing production requirements, capture data, and provide actionable insights for driving efficiency and continuous improvement. Discrete manufacturers can overcome the limitations of MES systems and achieve operational excellence with the right production monitoring system.

Alyxandra Sherwood
Alyxandra Sherwood
Digital Marketing Manager @ Mingo Smart Factory I Adjunct Professor @ SUNY Geneseo I Boston Marathoner I Second Street Award Winner I Media Professional with 15 Years Experience