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Manufacturing Execution Systems


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Fishbowl Manufacturing logo
 
Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to mid-sized. It integrates with QuickBooks accounting. Fishbowl offers inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP) and job shop... Read More
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Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to mid-sized. It integrates with QuickBooks accounting. Fishbowl offers inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP) and job shop... Read More
 
NetSuite logo
 
NetSuite Manufacturing Edition is a leading cloud solution with applications for MRP, MES, supply chain management and more. The MES application can track production lots and prepare work-in-progress tickets, among other things.
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NetSuite Manufacturing Edition is a leading cloud solution with applications for MRP, MES, supply chain management and more. The MES application can track production lots and prepare work-in-progress tickets, among other things.
 
Infor VISUAL ERP logo
 
Infor VISUAL ERP is an affordable manufacturing execution software (MES) for small to mid-sized manufacturers who want to optimize their production output. This solution features applications to manage MRP, MES, SCM, and more.
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Infor VISUAL ERP is an affordable manufacturing execution software (MES) for small to mid-sized manufacturers who want to optimize their production output. This solution features applications to manage MRP, MES, SCM, and more.
 
ECi M1 logo
 
ECi was featured in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in 2008. The MES application for ECi M1 is offered as part of a fully integrated suite that includes asset management, human resources and customer management.
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ECi was featured in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in 2008. The MES application for ECi M1 is offered as part of a fully integrated suite that includes asset management, human resources and customer management.
 
Global Shop Solutions logo
 
One-System ERP is a full manufacturing system for start-ups to enterprise level manufacturing companies. It lets you control every step of production and can be adapted to fit smoothly with your requirements.
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One-System ERP is a full manufacturing system for start-ups to enterprise level manufacturing companies. It lets you control every step of production and can be adapted to fit smoothly with your requirements.

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KeyedIn Manufacturing logo
 
KeyedIn Manufacturing is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution specifically designed for custom, make-to-order and mixed-mode manufacturers. The solution offers manufacturers a solution that can be customized to... Read More
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KeyedIn Manufacturing is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution specifically designed for custom, make-to-order and mixed-mode manufacturers. The solution offers manufacturers a solution that can be customized to... Read More
 
JobBOSS logo
 
JobBOSS is an integrated shop management software package designed to track and cost jobs. It allows key office and production staff to manage job information day-to-day to aid responsive customer service and on-time deliveries. All... Read More
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JobBOSS is an integrated shop management software package designed to track and cost jobs. It allows key office and production staff to manage job information day-to-day to aid responsive customer service and on-time deliveries. All... Read More
 
E2 Shop System logo
 
E2 Shop System has its origins in the job shop manufacturing industry. Applications for MRP and MES must be purchased and come as an integrated suite. Other functionality includes business intelligence and supplier management.
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E2 Shop System has its origins in the job shop manufacturing industry. Applications for MRP and MES must be purchased and come as an integrated suite. Other functionality includes business intelligence and supplier management.
 
Henning Visual EstiTrack ERP logo
 
Visual EstiTrack’s manufacturing execution application has features to keep the shop properly scheduled. Among the MES features included are visual shop management, drag and drop shop scheduling and operations monitoring.
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Visual EstiTrack’s manufacturing execution application has features to keep the shop properly scheduled. Among the MES features included are visual shop management, drag and drop shop scheduling and operations monitoring.
 
Kenandy Cloud ERP logo
 
Kenandy is a comprehensive cloud-based ERP solution created for companies that design, manufacture, or distribute products. It helps businesses manage core processes including order-to-cash, planning and production, procurement, TPM,... Read More
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Kenandy is a comprehensive cloud-based ERP solution created for companies that design, manufacture, or distribute products. It helps businesses manage core processes including order-to-cash, planning and production, procurement, TPM,... Read More

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Epicor Manufacturing logo
 
Epicor is a solution that we recommend to discrete manufacturers looking to improve their execution and planning. A good option for a number of industries, from aerospace and defense to plastics and pharmaceuticals.
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Epicor is a solution that we recommend to discrete manufacturers looking to improve their execution and planning. A good option for a number of industries, from aerospace and defense to plastics and pharmaceuticals.
 
ProfitKey ERP logo
 
With over 30 years of experience in the ERP and Manufacturing markets, ProfitKey International has developed Rapid Response Manufacturing (RRM) to provide a fully integrated ERP and MES solution for small to mid-size manufacturers.... Read More
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With over 30 years of experience in the ERP and Manufacturing markets, ProfitKey International has developed Rapid Response Manufacturing (RRM) to provide a fully integrated ERP and MES solution for small to mid-size manufacturers.... Read More
 
Mar-Kov CMS logo
 
Mar-Kov CMS (Chemical Management System) was developed to meet the unique needs of process, batch, and formulation based manufacturers. By automating daily routine processes, companies are able to streamline their operations while... Read More
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Mar-Kov CMS (Chemical Management System) was developed to meet the unique needs of process, batch, and formulation based manufacturers. By automating daily routine processes, companies are able to streamline their operations while... Read More
 
Priority logo
 
Priority is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is suitable for midsize to large businesses in many industry segments, including manufacturing, apparel, electronics, food and beverage, industrial machinery and more. Priority’s... Read More
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Priority is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is suitable for midsize to large businesses in many industry segments, including manufacturing, apparel, electronics, food and beverage, industrial machinery and more. Priority’s... Read More
 
Infor SyteLine ERP logo
 
With the dependability of the Infor name, SyteLine ERP works to reduce inventory levels and shortages, drive organizational growth, plan and schedule order by order, and deliver critical information quickly to help make better business... Read More
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With the dependability of the Infor name, SyteLine ERP works to reduce inventory levels and shortages, drive organizational growth, plan and schedule order by order, and deliver critical information quickly to help make better business... Read More

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Exact MAX Manufacturing logo
 
Exact MAX Manufacturing ERP is built to help small to mid-sized manufacturers efficiently manage their inventory purchases and automate compliance. Exact Max is also designed to help enhance customer service and reduce costs.
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Exact MAX Manufacturing ERP is built to help small to mid-sized manufacturers efficiently manage their inventory purchases and automate compliance. Exact Max is also designed to help enhance customer service and reduce costs.
 
IQMS MES Software logo
 
IQMS’ flagship product, EnterpriseIQ ERP, is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete, and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging... Read More
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IQMS’ flagship product, EnterpriseIQ ERP, is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete, and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging... Read More
 
SYSPRO logo
 
SYSPRO offers Enterprise Resource Planning software to support the control, integration, and synchronization of the life of the manufacturing process for both short and long production runs. Implementing SYSPRO is made simple with... Read More
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SYSPRO offers Enterprise Resource Planning software to support the control, integration, and synchronization of the life of the manufacturing process for both short and long production runs. Implementing SYSPRO is made simple with... Read More
 
MIE Trak PRO logo
 
MIE Track Pro's manufacturing execution application is designed for small to mid-sized job shop manufacturers. The systems helps manufacturers dispatch production orders, prepare work-in-progress tickets and track production lots.
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MIE Track Pro's manufacturing execution application is designed for small to mid-sized job shop manufacturers. The systems helps manufacturers dispatch production orders, prepare work-in-progress tickets and track production lots.
 
Datacor Chempax logo
 
Chempax by Datacor is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application designed specifically for chemical process manufacturers and distributors. The solution can be scaled to... Read More
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Chempax by Datacor is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application designed specifically for chemical process manufacturers and distributors. The solution can be scaled to... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: June 17, 2017


Manufacturing execution systems (MES) manage operations on the shop floors of factories. Some MES support a single class of machine; others are designed to oversee operations on the entire floor. We wrote this buyer's guide to explain MES technologies and assist buyers in making a selection.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is MES Software?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends to Understand
The MES Vendor Landscape

What Is MES Software?

“If you build it, they will come,” is not a quote about manufacturing, but the concept is related. MES software manages operations on the shop floor. The scope of MES can vary from scheduling a small set of critical machines to managing the entire fabricating operation for a manufacturer. In all but a handful of cases currently, the MES does not directly control a machine but rather tracks the work-in-progress on the shop floor. 

MES is a subset of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and executes the plan determined by the manufacturing resource planning (MRP) system. The functions of MES programs include: compiling a bill of materials, resource management and scheduling, preparing and dispatching production orders, preparing work-in-progress (WIP) reports and tracking production lots. Advanced systems will also have a product definition library with revision history and can report on production status to an ERP. In contrast, an MRP system sets the production schedule, determines the make versus buy list and determines inventory requirements.

Screenshot of E2 Shop System scheduling whiteboard

Screenshot of E2 Shop System scheduling whiteboard

The MES is responsible for scheduling and tracking each step of the production phase of a particular job. It prints out the bill of materials that the operator will require and production steps to complete at each phase. It repeats this process for each operator and each step until a particular job is complete.

MES is not generally effected by a manufacturer's mode, be it make to stock (MTS), assemble to stock (ATS), assemble to order (ATO), make to order (MTO) or engineer to order (ETO). This is because by the time the MES is invoked, the parts and schedule are already set, usually by the MRP system.

MESes are generally installed on-premises, but cloud-based solutions are becoming available. In most businesses, one of the reasons for having a cloud-based system is the reduced initial cost for equipment. This is not necessarily true for manufacturing; if the system has just a few users then they are usually located in the same facility and it is just as easy to link them to each other as it is to give them access to the Internet. If it is a large implementation, the expense is in creating a robust network and acquiring suitable fixed and mobile workstations. The incremental cost difference between having a server for the software is generally minimal. Instead, the benefit of cloud-based systems is the reduced cost for system management; the servers are out of the shop floor environment, can be backed-up and replicated automatically, and do not have to be maintained by trained on-site personnel.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The first step in evaluating MES software is to determine what type of buyer you are. Over 90 percent of software buyers fall into one of these three groups:

Enterprise resource planning suite buyer. These buyers value the seamless integration of data and processes that comes from having one system for all functions. For example, they would prefer a full-suite system for estimating, work-in-progress management and accounting that can automatically turn an estimate into a budget for project management and then match invoices to project status and allocate job costs. These buyers favor complete software suites from companies like Oracle, SAP, Sage ERP or Microsoft Dynamics.

Departmental buyer. Specialists in one function, such as creating process set points, may value the feature depth of best-of-breed solutions designed for their function. These buyers may need specific functionality, like the ability to interface with a specific computer motion control system.

Small manufacturer. Small organizations often have limited budgets and fewer IT resources and tools to dedicate to software. In many cases, they may be deciding between a new software system and a new piece of equipment. These buyers need cost-effective SMB manufacturing solutions that are easy to implement and use. Some will prefer full-suite systems, while others may just want one application, such as bill-of-materials production or shop equipment scheduling operations.  

Benefits and Potential Issues

  • Increase utilization of equipment: MES systems let manufacturers measure the actual utilization of equipment. With this knowledge, you can adjust job prices to either encourage the use of certain equipment or dissuade the use of that equipment.
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  • Better record-keeping and data analysis: MES provides records not of machine use, jobs and lots. This yields several benefits. First, there is better tracking of actual materials used, increasing accountability of material use to individual operators, which generally reduces waste. Second, should a quality problem occur, lot tracking allows tying back the issue to the individual lots instead of having to potentially recall an entire run.
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  • Real-time WIP reporting: MES systems can report on progress on jobs and lots in real-time, giving shop managers better information and allowing for modifications to the schedule to adjust for changes in productivity.

One of the big issues with implementing MES is the possibility it will be rejected by the shop floor personnel. Some workers find the method and amount of information collected intrusive. This can become a contract issue in a unionized shop. The best defense is to use a phased-in implementation coupled with training that emphasizes the benefits to workers.

Market Trends to Understand

Increased use of electronic documentation. Not so long ago, a shop floor had stacks and stacks of operator’s manuals, procedure manuals and material safety data sheets. Operators had clipboards and notebooks with bills of materials, work orders and reports. More and more, however, this paper is being replaced with electronic documents. MES documentation is no exception, most users produce electronic work orders and schedules.

Mobile devices used for reference and control. Related to the increased use of electronic documentation is the use of mobile devices on the shop floor. The days of using clipboards and paper kanban cards are quickly coming to an end. Instead, workers are using tablet computers and handheld devices to enter information directly into the MES system.

Increased integration with enterprise systems. Considering that ERP grew out of MRP and MES systems, it is no surprise that the integration with other systems is a continuing trend. Even stand-alone MES systems can receive data from MRP systems and inventory systems, and send information to others, like preventive maintenance systems (which track the hours that equipment has been used) and payroll systems (which track how much time workers spent on each job).

Machine integration. MES systems can now integrate directly with computer-controlled shop-floor machines, downloading directions and recipes when required.

Data consolidation and visualization. MES systems can collect and consolidate information from the various production systems. Production dashboards are beginning to make their appearance in systems, giving production managers a single view to track operations in real time.

The MES Vendor Landscape

This type of buyer... Should evaluate these systems
Enterprise resource planning suite buyer Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, SAP, Sage
Departmental buyer Microsoft Dynamics, Epicor, SYSPRO, Casco
Small manufacturer E-Z-MRP, ECi, Exact, Fishbowl

Free Download:
Manufacturing Software Feature Checklist

Free Download:
Ten Steps to Selecting the Right Manufacturing Software

 

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