The aim of this chapter is to describe what MES, ERP and PLM software systems are and for what they are used in an organization. Being placed in layer 3 and layer 4 of the automation pyramid, these software systems are holistic - covering different areas of organizations, not only manufacturing. Also, the technology jumps from being OT oriented with PLCs, sensors and HMIs to IT, with servers and databases. Data is used and generates insights in time frames of hours, days, up to months.
Making a short recap, layer 2 is the level named “Manufacturing Operations and Management” where the key software system is MES. For Layer 3 “Business Planning and Logistics” two main software systems are used: ERP and PLM. Please continue through the article to understand these different software systems.
Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is the software system that enables the transition from the shop floor to other functions of a production site, such as planning, quality and logistics. It provides the information of what and when to produce with work orders, production schedule, work instructions/recipe and with dashboards where the user is able to track KPI’s such as OEE and downtime.
Gartner has a review of companies which offer MES software.
Most important vendors:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), type of software that shares information between different departments of a company, such as manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, finance, HR, risk management and compliance. It can achieve this with a central database with multiple plugins of software packages, tailored to solve issues that the company faces in order to operate. Example of these business needs are generating pay checks for the employees, production orders, shipping labels, send invoices for clients or purchase orders to suppliers, inventory list of a warehouse, asset management calculations, and many more.
ERP software providers:
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a strategy lead by product managers to analyze all the different stages of a product, from its conception, design, production to service, maintenance and disposal. Product managers use PLM software in order to track the different phases which the product “lives”. Unlike the other software products(MES and ERP), PLM software is mostly CAD based.
Product designers can use PLM software in order to find pieces that are already used in older products and reuse them for new ones. This also can be leverage by the customer service team, whenever a product needs maintenance and requires replacement of some pieces.
The United Manufacturing Hub assists in this, as it helps to track down data from the production of distinct items, helping to identify production conditions easily.
PLM software providers:
Once completed the automation pyramid, it is highly relevant to review Lean Management, which is a philosophy to achieve operation excellence. Please proceed for the next subchapter to read about this.