MES and ERP: two complementary solutions for the success of your industrial company

Did you know that the integration between MES and ERP helps to increase the operational efficiency of factories and their ability to react to changes in demand? In this article we explain why they are fully complementary solutions and what are the benefits of integrating both platforms.

More and more industrial companies are embracing digital transformation to improve their decision making, become more competitive and save costs. As they embark on their path to Industry 4.0, these organizations must take advantage of the latest technological advances and implement systems that enable them to meet their business and manufacturing objectives in an agile and efficient manner.

It is in this first stage of digitization when industrial companies resort to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES), two tools with different purposes, but which often generate some confusion.

This article aims to clarify all your doubts: What are the features and functionalities of each of these systems? Can ERP replace MES? Can they be integrated, or should they be used separately? Below, we answer these and other questions.

What are the differences between an ERP and an MES?

ERP: strategic information for better business decisions

ERP systems are a type of modular software that adapts to the specific needs of companies and centralizes information related to billing, accounting, logistics, inventory, human resources and customer relations on a single platform.

The data extracted from the different modules are stored in a single relational database. For this reason, ERP is a very valuable tool for business management, as it provides decision-makers with a global view of the business.

Although this software plays a fundamental role in the area of enterprise resource planning, it is not a solution that is directly related to the production process itself or that facilitates the daily operations of plant managers, operators, quality and maintenance technicians.

An ERP provides, for example, information on the availability of assets to meet delivery deadlines, on the number of units manufactured in the last quarter or on how much it costs to produce a given reference. However, its use is very limited in the production environment because it does not provide reliable, real-time data on plant operations.

MES: real-time data to control production processes

A manufacturing execution system is a tool that helps industrial organizations to monitor in real time all the manufacturing operations that take place in their production centers, from the entry of raw materials, through the planning and execution of production orders coming from the ERP to the shipment of the final product.

The main functionality of MES is to provide factory managers and workers with the necessary information so that they can, among other things: detect efficiency losses and bottlenecks; correct deviations on the shop floor before it is too late; digitize maintenance management; ensure traceability and compliance with quality and safety standards; eliminate the use of paper documents; and develop and implement continuous improvement plans.

The growing need for industrial companies to adapt quickly to demand and become more profitable and sustainable has led more and more companies to decide to implement an MES system. Thanks to this software and its ability to automate data capture in the plant, organizations can exercise reliable, real-time control of their daily operations.

Where do ERP and MES fit into the ISA-95 automation pyramid?

To see it more clearly, if we take as a reference the automation pyramid developed by ISA-95, ERP and MES systems occupy different levels.

Levels of ISA95 automation pyramid

While ERP solutions are considered Level 4 as business planning and logistics systems, MES is a Level 3 tool because of its integration possibilities with ERP on the one hand, and with manufacturing equipment on the other.

The benefits of ERP and MES integration

Industrial companies that are bound by strict safety and quality controls or that must achieve high performance and availability rates can benefit greatly from integrating their ERP with an MES solution such as Mapex.

MES takes over where ERP is unable to go: the shop floor. That is why the union of both platforms can have a very positive impact on industrial companies in all types of sectors (automotive, aeronautics, chemical, food, etc.).

By integrating ERP and MES systems, companies connect the factory with the rest of the organization, leading to increased transparency, communication and collaboration. In this way, companies create a data ecosystem to optimize forecasting and inventory management, avoid production delays, increase productivity and reduce business risks by detecting problems on the shop floor faster.

The ability to integrate the Mapex platform with the most common ERPs on the market is one of the strengths of our solution. If you found this article useful and would like to know how we can help you boost connectivity in your industrial company, please fill in this contact form.

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