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Manufacturing Execution Systems


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NetSuite logo
 
NetSuite Manufacturing Edition offers an integrated inventory, warehouse management, accounting and financial management, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce platform. Offered as a cloud-based solution... Read More
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NetSuite Manufacturing Edition offers an integrated inventory, warehouse management, accounting and financial management, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce platform. Offered as a cloud-based solution... Read More
 
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
 
ECi M1 logo
 
ECi M1 is a complete on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that automates financials, inventory, production, sales/quoting, and production planning. The software is designed to meet the requirements of small to midsize... Read More
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ECi M1 is a complete on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that automates financials, inventory, production, sales/quoting, and production planning. The software is designed to meet the requirements of small to midsize... Read More
 
Infor VISUAL ERP logo
 
Infor VISUAL is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System with end-to-end functionality built for manufacturing organizations looking for a complete solution that supports the entire operational lifecycle, from planning to sourcing,... Read More
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Infor VISUAL is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System with end-to-end functionality built for manufacturing organizations looking for a complete solution that supports the entire operational lifecycle, from planning to sourcing,... Read More
 
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

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Global Shop Solutions logo
 
Global Shop Solutions offers a One-System ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application comprises of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read More
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Global Shop Solutions offers a One-System ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application comprises of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read More
 
JobBOSS logo
 
JobBOSS by Exact is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) built for small and midsize manufacturers in North America. It allows key office and production staff to manage job information day-to-day to aid customer service and on-time... Read More
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JobBOSS by Exact is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) built for small and midsize manufacturers in North America. It allows key office and production staff to manage job information day-to-day to aid customer service and on-time... Read More
 
E2 Shop System logo
 
E2 by Shoptech Corporation brings all business operations into a single simple solution, from estimating to scheduling, purchasing, shipping and even customer management and accounting, with its easy-to-use solution. Designed specifically... Read More
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E2 by Shoptech Corporation brings all business operations into a single simple solution, from estimating to scheduling, purchasing, shipping and even customer management and accounting, with its easy-to-use solution. Designed specifically... Read More
 
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
 
Henning Visual EstiTrack ERP logo
 
Visual EstiTrack ERP is an on-premise solution for small to midsize shops that offers manufacturing execution management, light material requirements planning, product lifecycle management, supply chain management, customer management,... Read More
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Visual EstiTrack ERP is an on-premise solution for small to midsize shops that offers manufacturing execution management, light material requirements planning, product lifecycle management, supply chain management, customer management,... Read More

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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
 
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
 
Infor SyteLine ERP logo
 
Infor SyteLine ERP is a mixed-mode application for engineer-to-order, configure-to-order, repetitive and service-based manufacturers. It’s suitable for companies in industries such as aerospace, metal fabrication, plastics and rubber... Read More
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Infor SyteLine ERP is a mixed-mode application for engineer-to-order, configure-to-order, repetitive and service-based manufacturers. It’s suitable for companies in industries such as aerospace, metal fabrication, plastics and rubber... 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
 
Deskera logo
 
Deskera is an enterprise resource planning software formulated to run manufacturing operations. The system is suitable for companies manufacturing for a variety of industries. Textiles, automotive, distribution, metal processing, pharmaceuticals,... Read More
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Deskera is an enterprise resource planning software formulated to run manufacturing operations. The system is suitable for companies manufacturing for a variety of industries. Textiles, automotive, distribution, metal processing, pharmaceuticals,... Read More

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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
 
MIE Trak PRO logo
 
MIE Trak Pro is an ERP offering that is ideal for manufacturing businesses with modules designed to accommodate most production cycles and optimize the capabilities of repetitive, custom, quick-turn and mixed mode operations. MIE... Read More
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MIE Trak Pro is an ERP offering that is ideal for manufacturing businesses with modules designed to accommodate most production cycles and optimize the capabilities of repetitive, custom, quick-turn and mixed mode operations. MIE... Read More
 
TrueERP logo
 
True ERP is a fully integrated and customizable business management system for organizations of all sizes. Serving thousands of customers worldwide for two decades, True ERP helps reduce company costs and data entry while increasing... Read More
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True ERP is a fully integrated and customizable business management system for organizations of all sizes. Serving thousands of customers worldwide for two decades, True ERP helps reduce company costs and data entry while increasing... Read More
 
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
 
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
 

Buyer's Guide

by Lisa Hedges,
Content Analyst
Last Updated: August 16, 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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