Manufacturing Execution Systems

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.

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Showing 1 - 20 of 132 products
Showing 1 - 20 of 132 products


Fishbowl is a hybrid manufacturing and warehouse management solution designed for small and midsize companies. Key features include inventory control, material requirements planning (MRP), job shop floor control, work order manage...Read more

4.16 (727 reviews)

99 recommendations


With an integrated system that includes ERP, financials, commerce, inventory management, HR, PSA, supply chain management, CRM and more – NetSuite enables fast-growing businesses across all industries to work more effectively by a...Read more

4.10 (817 reviews)

83 recommendations


Prodsmart is the SMB manufacturer’s gateway to digitization. It’s a complete, modular solution that gets any production environment ready for the future of manufacturing. Prodsmart empowers SMBs with data. By gathering insight o...Read more

4.71 (73 reviews)

35 recommendations


ECI Shoptech brings together industry-leading solutions E2 SHOP and JobBOSS to create the next evolution in job shop business management: JobBOSS². Designed specifically for job shops and make-to-order manufacturers, JobBOSS² is a...Read more

4.24 (856 reviews)

29 recommendations


Katana Manufacturing ERP

Katana Manufacturing ERP is a manufacturing ERP that gives you a live look at all the moving parts of your business — sales, inventory, and beyond. Combining a visual interface and smart real-time master planner, Katana makes mana...Read more

4.77 (137 reviews)

24 recommendations



EnterpriseIQ by IQMS is a comprehensive ERP solution designed to meet the needs of discrete and repetitive manufacturers. Because it's fully scalable, it can grow with any company. ...Read more

4.06 (286 reviews)

22 recommendations


ECI M1 is a subscription-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, available on-premise or via the cloud, that automates financials, inventory, production, sales/quoting and production planning. The solution is suitable for...Read more

3.69 (67 reviews)

20 recommendations

MIE Trak Pro

One word sums up MIE Trak Pro: flexibility. You may be using tired old spreadsheets or an ERP system that can't scale with your manufacturing company. When your organization grows, MIE Trak Pro adapts to your needs, striking a bal...Read more

4.65 (117 reviews)

13 recommendations



A great fit for job shop manufacturers, Realtrac is a fully integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that offers complete real-time control of the shop floor. This powerful system is quick to deploy and easy to use....Read more

4.07 (68 reviews)

12 recommendations

Mar-Kov Chemical Management System

Mar-Kov CMS (Chemical Management System) is a cloud-based process manufacturing solution for process, batch, and formulation based manufacturers. The solution can also be installed on-premise to automate daily routine processes of...Read more

5.00 (1 reviews)

9 recommendations


Software pricing tips

Read our Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Buyers Guide

Subscription models

  • Per employee/per month: This model allows you to pay a monthly fee for each of your employees.
  • Per user/per month: Users pay a monthly fee for users—normally administrative users—rather than all employees.

Perpetual license

  • This involves paying an upfront sum for the license to own the software and use it indefinitely.
  • This is the more traditional model and is most common with on-premise applications and with larger businesses.

Rated best value for money


Fulcrum is a cloud-based platform serving small/mid-sized manufacturers and job shops looking for a software platform that truly understands them and their unique, complicated processes. Humans weren’t meant to transcribe data fro...Read more

4.67 (3 reviews)

8 recommendations


Kinetic (the new name for Epicor ERP) is the cloud ERP solution built with manufacturers, for manufacturers. Epicor offers a cloud ERP platform with deployment flexibility (cloud, on-premise, hybrid) that provides manufacturers wi...Read more

3.80 (167 reviews)

5 recommendations


LillyWorks cloud-based Manufacturing ERP is designed specifically for small manufacturers. It increases visibility to the shop floor & helps manufacturers deliver on time by considering unplanned variability on the shop floor. Bui...Read more

4.33 (6 reviews)

5 recommendations


MasterControl Quality Excellence

MasterControl Quality Excellence (a QMS Software Solution) is an integrated quality management system that eliminates the need to paper-based quality processes. It helps life-science companies adhere more efficiently to the ever-c...Read more

4.47 (93 reviews)

4 recommendations

FactoryLogix MES

FactoryLogix is a manufacturing solution suitable for businesses of all sizes. Key features include manufacturing execution, quality management, product lifecycle management, supply chain management, supplier management, asset man...Read more

4.80 (15 reviews)

4 recommendations


ShopVue is an on-premise shop floor control solution designed for job-centric discrete manufacturing businesses. It offers labor tracking production planning, machine monitoring, component control and time and attendance tracking ...Read more

4.13 (12 reviews)

4 recommendations

Genius ERP

Genius Solutions is an on-premise ERP system designed for small to mid-sized companies in Canada. This software is suitable for make-to-order, engineer-to-order and lean manufacturing firms in most industries. ...Read more

4.17 (79 reviews)

3 recommendations


SyteLine is an enterprise resource planning software created specifically for engineer-to-order, make-to-order, make-to-stock, and mixed-mode manufacturers. Customers in both discrete and process manufacturing can benefit from thi...Read more

3.89 (64 reviews)

3 recommendations

Visual EstiTrack

Henning Software has helped small to midsize manufacturers and job shops for 30 years. Visual EstiTrack ERP has complete material requirements planning, product lifecycle, supply chain, customer relationship, human resource and ma...Read more

4.77 (11 reviews)

3 recommendations


businessMATE is a hybrid manufacturing management solution that caters to businesses across various industry verticals and helps them to automate their business processes and routines. It can be deployed on-premise or hosted in th...Read more

No reviews yet

3 recommendations


Buyers Guide

Last Updated: May 20, 2022

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.
  • 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.
  • 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