MES System - What it is and what it does

When automation began to be incorporated into manufacturing, the term Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was coined. MES was a tool to manage automated systems so that manufacturing plants would run smoothly. It would accomplish this by streamlining processes, tracking processes in production and documenting events automatically.

Over time, companies found new ways to use this new tool. With the increasing demand for customized products, it was necessary to streamline processes to work more efficiently and optimize production planning. For this, MES has proven to be a wonderful tool.

What is MES?

Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is an integrated system of software and sensors that provides real-time data of plant floor activities. MES tracks, documents and controls every step of production and optimizes its performance. This makes the manufacturing process easier and helps to achieve goals in less time.

MES is essentially an extended ERP for the shop floor environment. While ERPs attempt to optimize the operation of the entire enterprise, it is often too cumbersome to optimally manage individual manufacturing processes. MES can help remedy this problem by reducing the scope.

MES is an integrated system of sensors and software that tracks equipment, materials and workers. It pinpoints process bottlenecks and helps schedule equipment maintenance in advance, and can also be used to give customized instructions to workers and equipment based on the order. This helps keep processes streamlined and provides more reliable scheduling.

When information and communication technology was still in its infancy, its definition was rather vague. Almost any method of tracking, documenting or managing a process could be called MES. This caused problems in managing interfaces between MES and other systems.

In 1995, the International Society of Automation began work on establishing a standard for MES, defining what it does and how it does it. Thus the current ISA95 standard was born. It defines MES functions in 11 points, as follows:
  • MES functions
  • Data acquisition
  • Quality control
  • Programming
  • Performance analysis
  • Product flow
  • Genealogy and traceability
  • Process management
  • Resource management
  • Personnel management
  • Maintenance management
  • Document management
Although the standard allows an MES system not to fulfill all functions, it is still the skeleton of the system. Functions not addressed by the MES system can be handled by other software, if necessary, e.g. an ERP system can handle scheduling.


Management information systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP ) systems often cause confusion, as it is difficult to know where one ends and the other begins. Both systems have some overlapping functions and, in some rudimentary cases, the MES is not even necessary. However, optimizing the operation of a plant can be difficult with ERP alone.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a software system designed to manage an entire enterprise. It attempts to integrate and manage all aspects of a company's business. ERP functions as a constantly updated database of events at all levels. This information can be used manually or automatically to manage the resources necessary for optimal operation.

In contrast, MES does not extend outside the plant environment. The main task of MES is to assess what resources (raw materials, personnel, equipment) are available and how to use them optimally to produce the requested products. This includes scheduling, equipment maintenance, inventory control, quality control and documentation, among other things.

In an optimal situation, ERPs can make predictions based on market projection for future demand for certain products and transmit this information to MES. MES can then adjust production to the needs of the ERP. MES can allocate more resources for the production of high-demand products optimally and automatically. In this way, ERP and MES can work seamlessly together.

Although an ERP can be used to manage even the smallest details of a manufacturing process, this task is often left to the MES. Ideally, the ERP software manages what comes into the plant and what goes out, while the MES handles everything that happens inside the plant building.

Advantages of using MES

MES can simultaneously monitor every step of every process in a plant and transmit the data in real time to management. Management, or in some cases artificial intelligence, can then evaluate the data and make necessary changes to the processes. MES also documents all processes and parts being processed, which facilitates quality and inventory control.

Optimizing lead time is vital to success, and an MES system helps to target this goal and allows for a great deal of flexibility. The most significant benefit of using MES software is achieved when all manufacturing steps are automated. In this way, MES can effortlessly manage every detail of the process down to the millisecond. You could have an order placed for a product and still make changes on the fly, as long as it was still physically possible. Each product could be customized with minimal effects on plant operation.

Now that MES has processed how things are done, it can transmit what has been done to the ERP system. ERP can then focus on the operational side of running a company, while MES handles the day-to-day shop floor environment in detail. Overall, MES is an extension of ERP.

Future applications of MES

In the future, manufacturing will most likely be managed by an artificial intelligence. An AI can predict demand based on patterns in history, current events and future derivatives much faster and more accurately than any human. This enables lucrative business opportunities for early adapters of artificial intelligence in the business world.

AI can also be used at the ERP level to run most of the business, while a human only oversees the process. This would make it possible to run a company in a whole new way. An AI could simulate a thousand different scenarios in a second and estimate the most likely scenario. It is up to the entrepreneur whether he wants to make the decisions himself based on these scenarios or let the AI do it for him.

Take your business process management to the next level.

An ERP system works best in combination with MES software. Customers are looking for fast, efficient and reliable solutions to their demands. Having an MES software like SkyPlanner APS will make this task easier for the company and its employees.

Thanks to the control and its ability to prevent unwanted sporadic scenarios, there will no longer be any excuses if there is a last-minute change in an order or a problem during the manufacturing process, as Arcturus AI will help manage the situation in real time, providing a solution in seconds and giving step-by-step ways to resolve the situation, thus optimizing the production chain.