Five steps to an effective ERP-MES integration.

Author:Winder, Steve

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions have been at the forefront of manufacturing for several years. Despite this, both technologies have tended to coexist, rather than integrate their data, insights and business intelligence.

As businesses increasingly rely on these technologies to remain competitive, and as the technologies themselves become more advanced, manufacturers are waking up to the advantages of integrating their MES with their ERP. Integration has the potential to enable closer collaboration across the whole business. However, making this integration work is not simple--only the manufacturers that can transform their corporate culture will really reap the benefits.

A recent study from BearingPoint [1] has claimed that a correctly deployed MES system will become a strategic necessity for those manufacturers that are paving the way towards a digital future. 88 per cent of the companies surveyed said they expect MES to become increasingly important, with almost three-quarters planning to invest in the technology within three years. BearingPoint's study suggests that the emerging popularity of MES systems is due to their ability to act as a bridge between enterprise resource planning (ERP) technologies and machine controls. Indeed, the integration of these systems allows manufacturers to digitise processes and gain fast access to vital data such as lead times, stock levels and profits.

MES is a market force to be reckoned with - especially when it's integrated with ERP. The steps below explain how to make this possible.

Step I: Evaluate how you use ERP

For many manufacturers, when they first implemented ERP, the goal was to drive cost savings. The goalposts have since shifted, and ERP now plays a major role in promoting business growth. It does this by making it possible to share data quickly and effectively across the business; facilitating cross-departmental cooperation and reducing the 'silo mentality' that has previously been synonymous with the shop floor versus management manufacturing structure. Today's ERP systems offer comprehensive collaboration capabilities, providing tools for social collaboration on a project-by-project basis. They are also accessible via mobile devices and provide visual analytics to simplify decisionmaking. Because of this they make it easy for manufacturers to react to change and adapt to specific customer requirements; ultimately aiding new business...

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