You are on page 1of 25

MESA International


MES Explained:
A High Level Vision

Published September 1997

Executive Summary depicting the context, role, functions, software options,

benefits, and technology trends for MES.
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) deliver
information that enables the optimization of production MES can be the core mission-critical system for plant
activities from order launch to finished goods. Using managers and their staff. Financial, Materials planning,
current and accurate data, MES guides, initiates, and Logistics personnel have long used computer
responds to, and reports on plant activities as they occur. applications to improve the accuracy and timeliness of
The resulting rapid response to changing conditions, their work; MES provides the same benefits to Opera-
coupled with a focus on reducing non value-added tions. MES focuses on plant activities, and provides the
activities, drives effective plant operations and processes. minute-to-minute information needed to respond to
MES improves the return on operational assets as well as events as they occur. Adding the power of computing to
on-time delivery, inventory turns, gross margin, and cash the core value-adding production process can pay for
flow performance. MES provides mission-critical itself very rapidly.
information about production activities across the
MES is also an integrating set of functionsproviding
enterprise and supply chain via bi-directional communi-
links between Planning and Control systems, design
concept and product execution, sales force and delivery
This MESA International definition of Manufacturing mechanisms, and customers and supply capabilities.
Execution Systems (MES) bears deeper understanding. MES combines both global and local rules into a plant-
Why? Because of the benefits available through imple- wide view of not only what is happening, but what
menting this type of system. MES software has shorted should be happening to meet objectives. No other system
manufacturing cycle times by an average of 45%, and has contains equivalent functionality, or can deliver the same
made major gains in decreasing in-progress inventory, benefits. MES is essential not only to complete a
defects, and reducing non-value adding paperwork. manufacturing information system, but also to bring a
These substantial benefits are coming to companies that manufacturer global competitiveness.
have already automated production lines, implemented
enterprise-level software, and streamlined manufacturing
processes as well as others.
The forces driving manufacturers to implement MES
map directly to corporate business objectives and
maintaining or gaining competitive advantage. This
White Paper provides background and graphical models

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 1

MESA International

Executive Summary ___________________________ 1
I. MES In Context __________________________ 3
II. Functionality to Run Plants Effectively _________ 5
III. Software Options for MES __________________ 7
IV. Benefits of MES __________________________ 8
V. MES Technology Trends ____________________ 9
VI. Drivers for MES & Future Considerations _____ 11
Appendix A: Eleven Functions of MES ___________ 12
Appendix B: Models _________________________ 13
Appendix C: Glossary of Terms _________________ 22
Participants ________________________________ 22

List of Models
Figure 1, Plant Information Model ______________ 13
Figure 2, MES Context Model __________________ 14
Figure 3, MES Functional Model ________________ 15
Figure 4, MES Producer/Consumer Model ________ 16
Figure 5, MES Software Types __________________ 17
Figure 6, MES Operational Benefits Model ________ 18
Figure 7, MES Corporate Benefits Model _________ 19
Figure 8, Current Technology Model _____________ 20
Figure 9, Future Technology Model ______________ 21

1997 Manufacturing Execution Systems Association

2 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

Key To Reading systems, CAD/CAM systems, and industrial Controls are

This document is designed to address the general needs prime examples of well-recognized manufacturing
of the manufacturing community. It is intended to be information systems.
understandable and useful to everyone within a produc-
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) is a term that
tion organization. However, particular segments may be
of keenest interest to certain audiences. represents a collection of functions that is different from
any of these other areas, provides unique benefits when
Corporate Executives should read the Executive added to these other systems, and focuses on executing
Summary, and will also find Section IV on Benefits of production activities the core value-adding operations
particular interest, since it ties MES into corporate of a manufacturing company.
performance measures. Section VI presents a vision of
the drivers and future for manufacturers, and how MES MES Defined
plays into competitive success. The MESA International definition is:
Financial management will be most interested in
Section IV on Benefits, which outlines what to expect Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) deliver
from MES implementations, and assists with project information that enables the optimization of produc-
cost justification. Section I also provides a view of how tion activities from order launch to finished goods.
MES adds to and leverages other information system Using current and accurate data, MES guides,
investments. initiates, responds to, and reports on plant activities as
Information Systems professionals will find of they occur. The resulting rapid response to changing
particular interest Section I that puts MES into context conditions, coupled with a focus on reducing non
in the overall Manufacturing Software Architecture. In value-added activities, drives effective plant operations
addition, Section V on Technology is directly aimed at and processes. MES improves the return on opera-
the IS community. tional assets as well as on-time delivery, inventory
Operations and Manufacturing executives will find turns, gross margin, and cash flow performance. MES
benefit from reading the entire document, since MES is provides mission-critical information about produc-
the core information system that guides, initiates, tion activities across the enterprise and supply chain
responds to, and reports on plant activities as they via bi-directional communications.
occur. This White Paper provides an understanding of Fortunately, MES is available and already field-proven.
the context, functions, buying and configuring options, MES can provide facility-wide views of critical produc-
technologies, and justifications of systems that support tion process and product data in a format that is usable
the manufacturing functions. by supervisors, operators, management, and others in the
Those involved with Materials Management, Pur- enterprise and supply chain. It provides actuals data
chasing, Accounting, Logistics, Supply Chain, from the facilities to feed financial system cost and
Engineering, and Documentation may be most performance roll-ups. It is a plant-wide system to guide
interested in Sections I and II, which describe how activities on production lines so they meet global goals,
MES relates to the systems they use, and what func- not just local targets. The MES provides a current view
tions it offers that could complement or improve their of what is possible in production, providing a key piece
systems. information for quoting on real capabilities in supply
chain management and sales activities, as well.
I. MES in Context
In many segments of industry, plant-wide functions are
For more than 25 years, manufacturing companies have
still handled by paper and manual systems (see Figure 1,
been investing in computer systems to help run their
Plant Information Model). Experienced personnel often
operations. Early systems were custom built, with specific
carry the keys to production effectiveness in these
software developed for a particular manufacturers
factories. Manual systems and the judgment of experi-
operating style. However, in the past 10 years, commer-
enced operations people will always play a role in most
cial software products have garnered increasing market
operations. However, just as accounting, materials
share. Some applications have gained major commercial
management, engineering, and sales people have
market status, and are implemented widely. MRPII/ERP

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 3

MESA International

benefitted from using more sophisticated computer software for sales force automation, product config-
software, so can plant managers, supervisors, and urators, service quoting, product returns, and so forth.
operators. Product and Process Engineering (P&PE) includes
computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/
More and more manufacturers are feeling the pressures
CAM), process modeling, and product data manage-
that MES can address. Many production plants are
struggling to cope with a proliferation of product ment (PDM).
Controls are usually hybrid hardware/software
variations, which can render even the best human and
systems such as distributed control systems (DCS),
paper systems ineffective and inefficient. Further, manual
systems cannot keep pace with the increased speed of programmable logic controllers (PLC), distributed
numerical control (DNC), supervisory control and data
change in products, processes, technologies, and cus-
acquisition (SCADA) systems, and other computerized
tomer demands. Since operations change so rapidly, the
timeliness of MES information is a key benefit, allowing process control designed to control the way in which
product is being manufactured.
response in seconds or minutes.
Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) consist
Delivery, quality, price and speed to marketthese are of plant-wide information systems providing informa-
the driving factors for manufacturers excellence. tion on which to effectively execute operations to meet
Coupled with the pressures to meet external regulations, business goals. MES functions are described in more
such as quality and customer certificationsa manufac- depth in Section II and the Appendix, and product
turer must find ways to quickly and cost-effectively types appear in Section III.
improve their yields within their manufacturing pro-
Most companies need some functionality from each of
these six categories to succeed in their markets. The scope
Supply chain pressures demand that many manufacturers and detailed functionality needed from each application
have an accurate view of where products and materials category may vary widely based on process mode
are at all times, to effectively supply customers with (continuous, batch, discrete, assembly, or mixed mode)
product Just In Time. The plants status and capability and business offering style (make-to-stock, repetitive,
to handle changes in production orders are further key make-to-order, assemble-to-order, engineer-to-order).
pieces of information for supply in todays markets. As a MES functionality and products are oftenbut not
result, many manufacturing companies are now making alwayshighly differentiated by process and offering
the transition from paper and manual systems to style.
computerized MES (see Figure 1, Plant Information
Model, bottom right). MES touches all of the other categories of information
systems (see Figure 2, MES Context Model). This makes
MES In the Information Systems Architecture it both more important to the overall information
MES is one of several major information system types infrastructure and also more challenging in some ways.
Integration between MES and the other five major types
aimed at manufacturing companies. Each of these system
of systems is a key to gaining full benefits not only of
categories include various functions and product types.
Major manufacturing software systems categories today MES but also of these other information systems.
are: As the context model illustrates, MES provides a link
between the various major types of systems. Some of
Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) consists of
those systems that provide financials, order manage- these systems interface directly as well, but the MES
interface generally links them to actual production status
ment, production and materials planning, and related
and capabilities. The context for MES is one of informa-
Supply Chain Management (SCM) includes tion flow from, to, and through the system. (For more
detail refer to MESA White Paper No. 2 MES Func-
functions such as forecasting, distribution and logistics,
tionalities and MRP to MES Data Flow Possibilities and
transportation management, electronic commerce, and
advanced planning systems. No. 3 The Controls Layer: Controls Definition and MES
to Controls Data Flow Possibilities.)
Sales and Service Management (SSM) comprises

4 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

From MES to Other Systems ing managers, to operators and technicians. These are the
As the core production execution system, MES feeds people that focus on manufacturing productivity.
information to all of the other major types of systems: Each of the other systems has its own core user group, as
ERP relies on MES for actuals such as: costs, cycle well. For example, an ERP systems shop floor control
times, throughput, and other production performance system is designed primarily to gather plant data that
data. feeds the accounting and materials control system. MESs
Supply Chain Management pulls data about actual data acquisition can provide that same data, but also
order status, production capacities and capabilities, and allows analysis against plant-level performance measures.
shift-to-shift constraints from the MES; Data acquisition and collection functions in Control
Sales and Service Management applications must also Systems generally aim at improving the individual
link in to MES, since their success in quoting and process or line under control, while in MES, this
delivering depends on what is happening in the function aims more to analyze how effectively a given
facilities at a given moment; process is contributing to overall plant performance.
Product and Process Engineering is fine-tuned based on MES can leverage the investments in all of the other
the product yield and quality measured by the MES; manufacturing information systems, as well as enabling
Controls can get recipes and instructions downloaded improvements in plant operations.
that reflect the facility-wide optimum way to run at a The role of MES, then, is to both oversee and record
given moment. results of activities in a production facility. It gives a
From Other Systems to MES plant-wide view of the status and operation of processes,
MES also takes in data from these other systems, materials, human resources, machines, and tooling. In
ensuring that their information is acted on intelligently essence, the production knowledge both of what is
in the plant. For example, ERPs plans feed the MES actually happening, and of what should happen is
work dispatch, and Supply Chains master plans and captured in the MES. It is here that the overall effective-
schedules drive the timing of activities in the plant. Sales ness of a plant is both guided and measured.
and Service configurations and quotes provide the MES gathers performance data to help run the plant and
baseline of order information for production, while individual operations as well as feed corporate data
product and process engineering drive work instructions, streams on costs, materials, and progress to plan. The
recipes, and operational parameters. Data from Controls unique plant-wide functionality of MES can leverage
is used to measure actual performance and operating plant, capital, material, and human resource investments.
conditions as they change in automated processes.

Overlaps But Unique Value

II. Functionality to Run Plants
MES overlaps with these other systems, too. For example, Effectively
either ERP or MES can dispatch work to the floor; both Much like the other categories of systems, MES is not a
supply chain and MES include finite scheduling; process single function. Think of all of the varied activities in the
plans and documents can come from either product and plant, and the grouping of measurements that indicate
process engineering or from the MES; both Controls and the success of a given plant. MES has functions that
MES may include data collection functions. However, no support, guide, and track each of the primary production
other system contains equivalent functionality to MES. activities (see Figure 3, MES Functional Model). MESA
International has identified eleven principal functions of
While some similar-sounding functionality exists in ERP
systems and control systems, the MES approach usually
results in more focus on plant-wide production perfor- Operations/Detail Scheduling - sequencing and
mance, and has deeper functionality for operations timing activities for optimized plant performance based
optimization. The MES functions are designed for direct on finite capacities of the resources;
access primarily by Operations personnel, from the plant Resource Allocation and Status - guiding what
manager to materials, maintenance, quality, and schedul- people, machines, tools, and materials should do, and

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 5

MESA International

tracking what they are currently doing or have just MES functions are critical to most manufacturers today
done; because of business pressures that demand new and more
Dispatching Production Units - giving the command stringent processes to succeed with both customers and
to send materials or orders to certain parts of the plant shareholders. For example, correct allocation of resources
to begin a process or step; can mean the difference not only between healthy and
Document Control - managing and distributing minimal profits, but also timeliness of production needed
information on products, processes, designs, or orders, to fulfill customer expectations. Plant performance
as well as gathering certification statements of work and analysis is a key factor not only in deciding what and
conditions; how much to produce in which plant, but also in capital
Product Tracking and Genealogy - monitoring the planning for the future.
progress of units, batches, or lots of output to create a
One of the most powerful aspects of MES is that it
full history of the product;
combines both global business rules and local operations
Performance Analysis - comparing measured results in
best-practices into a plant-wide view of not only what is
the plant to goals and metrics set by the corporation,
happening, but what should be happening to meet
customers, or regulatory bodies;
objectives. Users can configure this set of functionality to
Labor Management - tracking and directing the use of
meet their corporate and plant objectives.
operations personnel during a shift based on qualifica-
tions, work patterns, and business needs; To define MES in the context of any given company, the
Maintenance Management - planning and executing manufacturer must identify core business drivers affected
appropriate activities to keep equipment and other by how production is executed in the plant. While the
capital assets in the plant performing to goal; core set of MES functions is relatively constant, the
configuration and priorities may vary widely. For
Process Management - directing the flow of work in
example, in some industries higher quality commands
the plant based on planned and actual production
premium prices; in others, there is an accepted baseline
of quality that is expected, and customers will not pay
Quality Management - recording, tracking, and
extra for a higher level. In another example, product
analyzing product and process characteristics against
genealogy is key to electronics and complex equipment
engineering ideals;
companies ability to satisfy customer demands for
Data Collection/Acquisition - monitoring, gathering,
product information, reduce legal liability, keep improv-
and organizing data about the processes, materials, and
ing product design, and provide ongoing maintenance
operations from people, machines, or Controls.
and service. Repetitive and mass-market producers, on
These eleven MES functions provide the core informa- the other hand, usually do not need such detailed
tion base to run almost any type of plant (see Figure 3, tracking, but may be heavily affected by scheduling
MES Function Model). Plant managers, quality, mainte- sequence.
nance, documentation, and scheduling managers all have
Its also interesting to note that achieving the same basic
tools in the MES arena. Most of what is tracked,
objectives may involve using different functionality. For
managed, and analyzed to keep production at peak
example, many companies must keep yield and through-
performance and profitability is available in MES
put high. Critical MES functions to achieve that goal
functionality via computer. (See Appendix A for more
could be any one of the following:
detailed descriptions of the eleven MES functions.)
process management in plants with complex flow and
Many of these functions logically contribute to each
high variability,
other. For example, data collection and acquisition can
maintenance in highly automated, sensitive processes,
automatically feed product genealogy, maintenance and
labor management for largely manual operations, or
labor tracking. Quality management feeds performance
plants where employees have highly specialized skill
analysis as well as possibly sending trend data to mainte-
nance management. Detailed scheduling often drives
document control in complex assembly or re-
dispatching and resource allocation.
manufacturing operations,

6 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

product genealogy and tracking in highly regulated

industries where paperwork problems are more likely to
prevent product acceptance than production error,
scheduling where multiple products vying for a single
resource can cause changeovers, wash downs or
In addition to choosing systems with specific functions
to meet business needs, many MES products provide
mechanisms for configuration or tailoring to meet a
particular plants needs. At the core of many MES
products is some type of model of the operation. Here,
the user can model particular characteristics of the plant
and the rules that govern the production. A small
sampling of the rules that various MES functions may
allow system users to configure are:

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 7

MESA International

for many industries. And the type of document manage- benefits of any manufacturing software. MESA
ment needed can vary from CAD drawing displays with Internationals White Paper No. 1, The Benefits of MES:
detailed work instructions for complex assembly and A Report from the Field outlines many of these issues
repair operations to simple forms-fill-out for customer based on actual MES user experiences. This research
certification documents. shows that the benefits users experience are significant.
To quote a few statistics, MES:
Once the providers of MES software that match the basic
production and business processes of the plant are reduced manufacturing cycle time by an average of
identified, the issue of modeling the operations and 45%;
configuring functions to match them becomes impor- reduced data entry time, usually by 75% or more;
tant. During the MES selection process, including reduced Work in Progress (WIP) an average of 24%;
Operations experts from the plant is advisable, since they reduced paperwork between shifts an average of 61%;
know the details of how the processes run. Operations reduced lead time by an average of 27%
personnel need to advise both on the problems and the reduced paperwork and blueprint losses an average of
best solutions, to ensure the MES can support known 56%
best practices, or provide an equal level of performance. reduced product defects an average of 18%.
The benefits listed are those that current MESA Interna-
Software Offerings
tional research has validated. Note also that these users
Because of the variation in product functionality and
report gaining significantly more benefits over time. So
scope, there are literally hundreds of products that
this time sample represents some companies early in
provide MES functionality. In fact, MES may come
implementation and others much further along. Addi-
under any number of names (see Figure 5, MES Software
tional areas of benefit MESA can report on anecdotally
Types). Some of them reflect one or a few of the eleven
(based on individual customer reports) include reduced
functions very directly; others provide some of those
overtime, faster production throughput, increased
functions tightly integrated and sometimes with other
flexibility and agility, and cost avoidance in areas
functions included. So while most providers of mainte-
including compliance, WIP storage, and reduced scrap,
nance management software dont think of themselves as
rework, returns, and off-grade product.
MES vendors, they do provide a key set of functions that
can benefit from integration with the other ten func- MES provides dramatic benefits for a wide range of
tions. Similarly, many quality management, advanced manufacturers, even with extensive software of other
scheduling, and document management companies wrap types installed. This is partly because MES functions
the core MES functions in with non-plant-focused focus on the core value-adding processes of a production
capabilities. company the execution of the manufacturing process.
So while most systems have focused on planning out how
Given this variation in product offerings, buying MES
things should operate, MES focuses on improving how
requires preparation and diligenceand often the
things actually are operating. MES applications improve
assistance of consultants or systems integrators. Plants
the effectiveness of operations within a plant, and help
must first identify the vendors who have experience not
plant personnel make sound decisions. The survey also
only in their industry, but also have written the code to
indicates significant benefits from employee empower-
fit the process mode and offering style profile of the
ment. By gaining immediate access to data, these
facility. Buyers may also seek out a range of vendors
companies have improved productivity, gained higher
offering the particular functions that are most important
quality work, and been able to reduce supervision
to competitiveness in that location. Once the software is
carefully selected and the implementation is undertaken
well, the benefits of operating a plant using MES can be On the operational front, MES provides significant gains
enormous. toward the goals of plant managers, operations and
production executives, and plant floor technicians and
IV. Benefits of MES operators (see Figure 6, MES Operational Benefits).
Notice that benefits go on a steeper curve with invest-
MES has provided its users some of the most impressive

8 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

ments. These investments can be in additional MES Practice (GMP).

functionality or products, enhancements of current Aerospace & defense companies need on-line work
functionality, investments in integration to other systems instructions and product histories to meet regulations
that pass data to and from the plant floor, or investments and customer certifications, keep errors in processing to
in training and innovating on systems. almost zero, and track progress on very large projects.
Textiles, food, and many batch process companies use
These operational benefits contribute directly to corpo-
MES functions to improve equipment utilization, assist
rate objectives. For example, improving the productivity
in batch record-keeping, recipe management, and speed
of personnel by reducing data entry, paperwork and the
the process.
time and error associated those activities can reduce
Semiconductor companies simply cannot achieve the
liability, ease the path to regulatory compliance, reduce
accuracy, cleanliness, and yield they need without MES;
operating costs, improve customer service, and increase
this industry would not consider building a new fab
the return on human and often other assets. Rapid
without an integrated MES.
process upgrades can have a direct effect on the return on
automation investments, operating expenses, delivery Actual level of benefits gainedand benefits a given
reliability, and overall profitability of operations. The plant should expectvary widely. This has to do with
corporate benefits of MES can be quite significant as well several factors, among them:
(see Figure 7, MES Corporate Benefits Model).
1. Whether the particular factor has been an issue for the
Building a Case for MES plant already in which case, changes in procedures,
automation, and total quality techniques may have
Since MES applications are often not directly used by
already gained improvements.
corporate-level personnel, the benefits may not be
evident to these financial buyers. Further, the MES 2. Which functions of MES a plant implements, and
core users are often not adept at extrapolating why when. Naturally, plants that implement maintenance
benefits to them are also benefits to the corporation. The management functions could expect larger gains in
specialized terminology of not only financial and equipment uptime than those that do not.
corporate management, but also of production opera-
3. How well the software addresses the application and
tions, can deter communications of real and potential
overall environment.
benefits to those who must make investment decisions.
Thus a cross-functional team effort is often best to 4. Whether the implementation was done with full
identify areas of desired improvement and build a cost- support from top management, mid-management, and
justification case. system users.

A few common ways that different industries build the 5. How carefully the impact on the corporation is and
case for MES may help to illustrate the benefits case a can be measured. In many cases, MES is implemented
given plant will build. Its common in many manufactur- simultaneously with other software, automation, or
ing industries for customer service to be a major corpo- improvement programs. While these projects can have
rate goal. MES contributes by shortening production tremendous results, it is often difficult to attribute
cycle times, providing accurate information on the status benefits to any one component of the program.
of orders in production, and reducing errors in produc-
tion that could cause delivery delays. Some industry- V. MES Technology Trends
specific examples show greater differences:
Since MES is really a collection of different types of
In electronics, MES is often justified on its ability to software products, technologies used and planned may
easily create an accurate product history and keep up vary quite a bit per functional category, and even per
with frequent changes in products and technology product. However, some general technology trends are
designs. evident, through the diversity.
Pharmaceutical companies can usually justify MES on
First, MES is a reasonably low-overhead set of applica-
the basis of accurate and easy-to-manage batch records
tions. In most instances, it requires neither the complex
for regulatory compliance and Good Manufacturing
graphics capabilities of a CAD/CAM system, the large

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 9

MESA International

databases of ERP, nor the complex algorithms of supply attributes they can handle, and how configurable they are.
chain software. The major requirement for MES is often
One complicating factor is that a single plant may
a high number of users distributed on a network in
implement software from more than one provider or
sometimes harsh plant conditions. Many MES functions
use legacy systems for some portion of the MES func-
have long run on PCs and workstations. The advent of
tionality. So the result in many plants is a patchwork of
client-server technology, robust PCs and fail-safe local-
systems, each with its own logic, database, data model,
area networks have been a major benefit to MES.
and communications mechanisms (represented in Figure
MES is following similar technology trends to many 8 by dotted lines). Further, since MES applications are
other types of manufacturing software. Most of the often mission-critical, systems may not be replaced or
systems are client-server, use relational databases, and run updated nearly as often as the technology changes are
on UNIX, VMS, OS/400, Windows NT, or Windows commercially available.
3.1 or 95. Most of the commercial products provide
MES is essentially an integrating set of functions
application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect to
providing links between planning and control, design
other applications such ERP, Controls, Supply Chain,
concept and product execution, sales force and delivery
Product and Process Engineering, and Sales and Service
mechanisms, and customers and supply capabilities. So
Management (see Figure 8, MES Current Technology
the APIs and data transport or communications mecha-
nisms are, in some ways, a core piece of MES functional-
What all of this means is that technology is not the ity, not just an incidental technical detail.
driving issue behind MES adoption or effectiveness. As
Object-oriented technologies, using messaging and
technology has progressed, MES has taken advantage of
agents, are emerging as manufacturing software direc-
improvements and migrated from one generation to the
tions. MES is moving to these modern technologies,
next, without ever stretching the limits of commercial
because these new architectures promise easier integra-
technology or manufacturers ability to purchase and
tion, faster change, more ability for subject matter
support it.
experts to configure systems, and effective infrastructure
The government-sponsored Solutions for MES-Adapt- for triggering mission-critical events.
able Replicable Technology (NIIIP/SMART) consor-
The NIIIP/SMART consortium is working toward a
tium, which MESA International participates in, has
technology architecture that would provide a consistent
identified four major business characteristics driving
distributed object and messaging model for the entire
MES implementation architectures.
MES arena (see Figure 9, MES Future Technology
1. Low Capital Expenditures This factor drives Model). Notice that in the object-oriented world this
toward users that change systems in the plant more new technology represents, objects carry their own
slowly than the technology evolves, PC-based architec- functions and methods to operate on data. However, a
tures, and a thin-client architecture, in which application range of functions for workflow, knowledge, and product
logic resides mostly on the server. data management, data mediation and resource negotia-
tion are now separated out from the functional logic.
2. High Degree of Change Data capture and archiv-
Consistent object request brokers (ORBs) such as
ing becomes important to track the rapid change in a
CORBA and COM/DCOM allow any vendors objects
plant. How much data to store actively versus put in an
written to those standards to communicate and inter-
archive becomes a trade-off between operational analysis
capabilities and storage and processing burdens.
NIIIP/SMART indicates that this architecture helps meet
3. Short Cycle Time The speed at which products
MES business characteristics. A distributed object
move through a plant also dictates how rapidly transac-
framework allows data and functional logic to be carried
tions must be processed to measure operational perfor-
close to where it is used. Further, by using small, fine-
grain objects, the model is highly customizable without
4. Functionality Flexibility Because plants vary so destroying the relationships of the model. These charac-
widely, MES products will specialize based on which teristics help keep capital expenses low, allow rapid

10 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

change and quick response, and result in flexibility for activities.

MES. In addition, companies are realizing that their informa-
tion infrastructures have gaps. While the actual process is
Beyond allowing the MES applications to meet their
often highly automated, and financial, design, planning,
goals more easily, this new technology architecture will
and other office and field operations use sophisticated
also allow MES to interoperate with the other five
systems, all of their plans and assumptions are only as good
categories of manufacturing software relatively seamlessly.
as the data feeding them about actual production and plant
As more and more MES, ERP, Controls, Product and
capabilities. Even when the data is good in a company, its
Process Engineering, Supply Chain Management, and
rarely available in a timely fashion to the operations
Sales and Service Management software is written in
personnel who must decide what activities a plant
objects, to conform with the same ORB, the vision of
integrated manufacturing systems functionality will be
possible for manufacturers to implement. Even though Most manufacturing is at a stage where flexibility and
these systems will continue to be developed and sold by speed demands are extreme, and getting more critical.
different companies for some time, the internal architec- There are cost, compliance, yield, and service issues to
ture will be more consistent than possible previously. balance in running operations. MES is a key enabler for
manufacturers to execute as they want to: rapidly,
VI. Drivers for MES & Future reliably, and in an agile manner.
Considerations Competitive pressures in nearly every manufacturing
industry are indicating a need for better information
Leading manufacturers are making decisions to invest in
MES now, if they have not already. MES addresses systems, and better integration between the systems and
people who use them. Few production companies fail
business drivers in many ways:
now to recognize that knowledge is power. And MES
To respond more rapidly in production to changes in provides the knowledge about the core value-adding
the marketplace, MES provides an ability to execute processes of a manufacturerthe production processes.
differently than planned.
To increase profits, MES enables plants to produce
more cost-effectively and use plant resources wisely
not just by keeping utilization high, but by ensuring
activities are optimized to business needs for profits and
customer satisfaction.
Operations personnel are empowered by MES; it helps
ensure their expertise is leveraged in ways that are
adequate in new situations.
As new technologies increase the sensitivity of produc-
tion processes, MES can provide structure to execute
them properly.
Short product lifecycles make the MES assistance with
achieving full yield and plant productivity essential.
Regulatory and customer compliance demands are
increasingly difficult and costly to meet without MES
automating accurate recording of data on products and
processes, as well as providing instant access to safety,
health, and regulatory information.
Return on Investments (ROI) in assets from human
resources to equipment, tools, materials, and even other
information systems can improve when MES is
connected, driving production in harmony with other

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 11

MESA International

Appendix A: MES Functions indirect activities such as material preparation or tool room
work as a basis for activity based costing. It may interact
1. Resource Allocation and Status with resource allocation to determine optimal assignments.
Manages resources including machines, tools labor skills, 7. Quality Management
materials, other equipment, and other entities such as Provides real time analysis of measurements collected
documents that must be available in order for work to from manufacturing to assure proper product quality
start at the operation. It provides detailed history of control and to identify problems requiring attention. It
resources and insures that equipment is properly set up may recommend action to correct the problem, including
for processing and provides status real time. The manage- correlating the symptom, actions and results to deter-
ment of these resources includes reservation and dis- mine the cause. May include SPC/SQC tracking and
patching to meet operation scheduling objectives. management of off-line inspection operations and
2. Operations/Detail Scheduling analysis in laboratory information management system
Provides sequencing based on priorities, attributes, (LIMS) could also be included.
characteristics, and/or recipes associated with specific 8. Process Management
production units at an operation such as shape of color Monitors production and either automatically corrects or
sequencing or other characteristics which, when sched- provides decision support to operators for correcting and
uled in sequence properly, minimize set-up. It is finite improving in-process activities. These activities may be
and it recognizes alternative and overlapping/parallel intra-operational and focus specifically on machines or
operations in order to calculate in detail exact time or equipment being monitored and controlled as well as
equipment loading and adjust to shift patterns. inter-operational, which is tracking the process from one
3. Dispatching Production Units operation to the next. It may include alarm management
Manages flow of production units in the form of jobs, to make sure factory person(s) are aware of process
orders, batches, lots, and work orders. Dispatch informa- changes which are outside acceptable tolerances. It
tion is presented in sequence in which the work needs to provides interfaces between intelligent equipment and
be done and changes in real time as events occur on the MES possible through Data Collection/Acquisition.
factory floor. It has the ability to alter prescribed schedule 9. Maintenance Management
on the factory floor. Rework and salvage processes are Tracks and directs the activities to maintain the equip-
available, as well as the ability to control the amount of work ment and tools to insure their availability for manufac-
in process at any point with buffer management. turing and insure scheduling for periodic or preventive
4. Document Control maintenance as well as the response (alarms) to immedi-
Controls records/forms that must be maintained with the ate problems. It maintains a history of past events or
production unit, including work instructions, recipes, problems to aide in diagnosing problems.
drawings, standard operation procedures, part programs, 10. Product Tracking and Genealogy
batch records, engineering change notices, shift-to-shift Provides the visibility to where work is at all times and its
communication, as well as the ability to edit as planned disposition. Status information may include who is
and as built information. It sends instructions down to working on it; components materials by supplier, lot,
the operations, including providing data to operators or serial number, current production conditions, and any
recipes to device controls. It would also include the alarms, rework, or other exceptions related to the
control and integrity of environmental, health and safety product. The on-line tracking function creates a histori-
regulations, and ISO information such as Corrective cal record, as well. This record allows traceability of
Action procedures. Storage of historical data. components and usage of each end product.
5. Data Collection/Acquisition 11. Performance Analysis
This function provides an interface link to obtain the Provides up-to-the-minute reporting of actual manufac-
intra-operational production and parametric data which turing operations results along with the comparison to
populate the forms and records which were attached to past history and expected business result. Performance
the production unit. The data may be collected from the results include such measurements as resource utilization,
factory floor either manually or automatically from resource availability, product unit cycle time, conform-
equipment in an up-to-the-minute time frame. ance to schedule and performance to standards. May
6. Labor Management include SPC/SQL. Draws on information gathered from
Provides status of personnel in and up-to-the-minute different functions that measure operating parameters.
time frame. Includes time and attendance reporting, These results may be prepared as a report or presented
certification tracking, as well as the ability to track on-line as current evaluation of performance.

12 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

Appendix B: Models
The following figures are intended to further the understanding of MES; we encourage you to reproduce and
distribute them.

Figure 1, Plant Information Model

Plant Information Model

Before MES Implementation
Supply Chain Sales & Service
Management ERP Management

Operations Management System

Product &
People/Paper Process
Folklore/Practice With MES Implementation
Controls Supply Chain Sales & Service
Management ERP Management
Model: MESA International

PLC/ Drives, Data Manual DCS/

SoftLogic Motors, Collection Process OCS
Relays Control
Integrated Production Data Product &
Automation, Instruments, Equipment Working with Operations Process
Management Systems, People, Engineering
and Practice

PLC/ Drives, Data Manual
Many plants now have information systems that leave Motors, Process DCS/
SoftLogic Collection OCS
plantwide activities to non-automated systems, while other Relays Control
areas have software. MES is the set of software functions
that work with the management systems, people and
Automation, Instruments, Equipment
practices to support operations excellence.

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 13

MESA International

Figure 2, MES Context Model

MES Context Model

SSM MES = Manufacturing Execution System
SSM = Sales & Service Management
SCM = Supply Chain Management
ERP = Enterprise Resources Planning
P/PE = Product and Process Engineering
SCM ERP Controls = PLC, DCS, line and machine control

MES provides an information hub that

links to and sometimes between all of
these systems. MES overlaps with other
MES P/PE manufacturing system types, which also
overlap with each other. For example,
scheduling may appear in both MES and
SCM; labor management in MES, SSM,
Model: MESA International

and the HR function of ERP; document

Controls control in MES and P/PE; and process
management in both MES and Controls.
Degrees of overlap vary by industry and

14 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

Figure 3, MES Functional Model

MES Functional Model

Sales &
Supply Enterprise
Chain Resources
Management MES Planning
Operations/ Resource
Detailed Allocation
Scheduling & Status
Dispatching Document
Production Control
Tracking & Performance Product/
Genealogy Analysis Process
Model: MESA International

Labor Maintenance Process
Management Management Management


This model shows the eleven functions of MES and links to other systems. Functions may link in multiple
different ways by product and need.

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 15

MES Explained: A High Level Vision
Producer & Consumer
Model for MES
MES Supplier Plant or Industry MES
Contribution Examples Requirement Examples
Vendor A Plant X
Vendor B Plant Y
Model: MESA International

Plant Z
Vendor C
Figure 4, MES Producer/Consumer Model

MES can consist of any combination of the eleven basic MES functions.
Both vendor breadth of offering and plant needs vary in scope and priorities.
Systems integrators and service organizations often assist in configuring
MESA International

product to meet plant needs.

MESA International

Figure 5, MES Software Types

Typical Product Categories

With MES Functions
Batch Management
Computer Aided Process Planning
Data Collection, Auto ID, Barcode
Electronic Batch Management (EBR)
Electronic Document Management
Electronic Work Instructions
Finite Scheduling
Integrated MES
Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS)
Maintenance or Asset Management
Process Simulation
SPC, QC, Quality Management
Time & Attendance
WIP Tracking

Software products that provide MES functionality come under a variety of names that dont necessarily
map directly to the eleven functions. These are representative MES product types.

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 17

MESA International

Figure 6, MES Operational Benefits

MES Operational
Benefits Model
Reduced Lead Time
Lower WIP Inventory Levels
Operational Performance

C Reduced Cycle Time
Improved Product Quality
Productive, Empowered Employees
B Enforce Regulatory Conformance
Benefits Rapid Process Upgrades
Investment Reduced Paperwork
No Lost Paperwork/Blueprints
Reduced Data Entry Time
Informed Decision Support
MES Implementation Over Time
Model: MESA International

MES provides most industries a wide range of operational benefits, even for companies that have other
systems in place. Several MES solutions or functions may contribute to the strength of a given benefit, and
benefits may also be increased by appropriate process improvements. Benefits accrue in different sequences,
based on the functionality chosen, project focus, integration to other systems, and the plants driving needs.

18 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

Figure 7, MES Corporate Benefits Model

MES Corporate
Benefits Model
Return on Assets
Improved IT & Automation ROI
Improved Customer Service
Performance to Goal

Lower Operating Costs
Reduced Capital Expenses
Investment Regulatory Compliance
Reduced Product Liability
Benefits Informed Decision Support
Investment Delivery Reliability
Lower Inventory Carrying Costs
Synchronization with Demand
Reduced Floorspace
MES Incremental Investments Over Time
Model: MESA International

MES contributes to most industries corporate goals, even for companies that have other systems in
place. Several MES solutions or functions may contribute to the strength of a given benefit, and benefits
may also be increased by appropriate process improvements. Benefits accrue in different sequences,
based on the functionality chosen, project focus, integration to other systems, and driving needs.

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 19

MES Explained: A High Level Vision
MES Current Technology Model
Systems API API Systems
System API Systems
Legacy MES Functional Logic
System API API Controls
Data Model
(Relational or Other)
Back Messaging Tools Data
Office (OLAP) Warehouse
Data Communications
Data Std./Translation
(i.e. ODBC)
Source: MESA International

API Database Subcontractors
Figure 8, Current Technology Model

API = Application Program Interface
Current MES architecture incorporates a data model and communication
OLAP = On-Line Analytical Processing
mechanism per vendors system which could represent one or many MES EDI = Electronic Data Interchange
functions, plus APIs for interfacing to external systems and EDI to link outside = separation between potentially different systems
MESA International

the corporation.
Based on: NIIIP-SMART Reference Architecture As-Is Model

MESA International

MES Future Technology Model
Workflow Knowledge Data Resource Product Data
Management Management Mediator Negotiator Management
Application Agent Agent Application
MES Object Model
Object Request Broker
Firewalls Firewalls
Model: MESA International

Agent Manufacturing Subcontractors
Figure 9, Future Technology Model

Agent Agent

MES Explained: A High Level Vision

Application Application
MES is incrementally evolving toward a consistent object model, along with the rest of the software industry. In this future
information systems model, MES uses an object request broker to pass manufacturing events to workflows, agents, and external
systems (SCM, ERP, Legacy, SSM, P/PE, Controls, Data Warehouse) through data mediation. Unique plant business policy is represented
as sets of rules within knowledge management which can initiate manufacturing events.
Source: NIIIP-SMART Reference Architecture
MESA International

Appendix C: Glossary of Terms Participants

API - Application Programming Interface This report is an outcome of a years project initated and
funded by MESA. Julie Fraser of Industry Directions was
Auto ID - Automatic Identification such as Bar coding,
engaged to support the effort and prepared this docu-
RF tags, etc.
ment as part of her work. Significant contributions were
CAD/CAM - Computer Aided Design and Computer made many MESA members including:
Aided Manufacturing
Mark Muroski, ABB
DCS - Distributed Control System
Stephen Cloughley, Base 10 Systems
DNC - Distributed Numerical Control R. Sanborn Towle, Camstar Systems
ERP - Enterprise Resources Planning Robert Dickey, CIMLINC
GAAP - Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Gordon Kilgore, Digital Interface Systems
GMP - Good Manufacturing Practice Kirk Merley and Ram Prabhakar, EDS
LIMS - Laboratory Information Management Systems Michael Brennolt, EMS
MES - Manufacturing Execution System Mark Symanovich, HRB Systems/Raytheon E-Systems
MRP - Material Requirements Planning Jonathan Siudut, IBM & NIIIP/SMART Consortium

MRPII - Manufacturing Resources Planning Judy Armandroff & William Massaker, ICC

NIIIP/SMART - National Industrial Information Tom Schaefer, Intermec

Infrastructure Protocols Solutions for MES-Adaptable John Leibert, MDSS
Replicable Technology
Mike McClellan, MES Solutions
ORB - Object Request Broker
Bill Seitz & Gregory Czarnowski, OMNX Direct
PC - Personal Computer Control
PLC - Programmable Logic Controller Tom Bruhn, Raytheon Automated Systems

ROI - Return on Investment Maryanne Steidinger, Rockwell Automation/Allen-

P/PE - Product and Process Engineering
Bernie Asher, RWT Corp.
QC - Quality Control
Eric Marks, Schneider Automation/Square D
SCADA - Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
John Lischefscha & Jamie Muir, SynQuest
SCM - Supply Chain Management
Bill Schaffer & Walt Siekierski, Thedra Systems
SPC - Statistical Process Control also:
SSM - Sales and Service Management Joe Perino, Biles & Associates
WIP - Work-in-Progress or Work-in-Process Doug Griffin, formerly of IBM
Dave Vadas, AutoSoft/CIMple
Jim Andrade, Andersen Consulting
Bill Brower & Dave Webster, Quantum Manufacturing
Colin Portunuff, Mitron Corporation
Bill Hakanson & Julie Schaeffer, MESA International
Julie Fraser, Industry Directions, report author

22 MES Explained: A High Level Vision

MESA International

MES Explained: A High Level Vision 23

MESA International
303 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15215 USA
+1 412.781.9511
Fax: +1 412.781.2871