A Deep Dive into MES Functionality at Infor

Matt Barber, VP & General Manager Manufacturing Execution System (MES) at Infor, explores the relationship between MES & ERP in Smart Manufacturing

MES (Manufacturing Execution System) functionality covers all manufacturing operations, from production and quality, to inventory and maintenance. It creates a single digital thread of truth connecting all operational departments, improving real-time communication and integrating the shop floor to the enterprise. The functional scope of MES has had various definitions, and occasionally a second acronym, MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), is used. 

At software development company Infor, MES is used to systematise and error-proof business processes and provide detailed work instructions.

“It’s like having your best people working all the time regardless of whether they are recent recruits, experienced team members, or on the night shift,” says Matt Barber, Vice President and General Manager Manufacturing Execution System at Infor. 

 

The core functionalities of efficient MES

Historically ERP has encroached onto the shop floor to cover some manufacturing operations, often combined with paper, Excel, or disconnected departmental applications. Fortunately, the current thinking around composable enterprise applications is pushing ERP back to its core functions, allowing specialist applications (like MES) to do what they are designed to do. This means ERP and MES can work together as complementary applications, each playing to their strengths.

According to Barber, one of the key strengths of combining MES and ERP, is the focus on the operator. 

“MES applications are usually designed with the operator in mind, keeping it simple, easy-to-use and informative. MES guides operators through their process and helps them with their ever-increasing responsibilities,” says Barber. “MES consolidates everything the operator needs in one place. Operators are at the core of the process, interacting and communicating with various departments. If material replenishments, quality checks, label printing, or maintenance activities occur in separate systems, it disrupts the user experience for operators.”

For Barber, the core functionalities of an MES are any activities that are carried out by operational users in the factory. 

 

Infor MES redefines Smart Manufacturing with functionality and integration

Infor MES offers incredibly broad functionality, including: Production, Quality, Inventory, Logistics, Maintenance, Tooling and Energy.

“Many MES applications on the market focus on much narrower functionality, which is troublesome when operators need to perform tasks, or view data, outside of the MES,” continues Barber. “When MES is implemented well, it manages all operational functionalities in the factory, ensuring seamless communication and visibility across departments and automatically capturing real-time data direct from the shopfloor.” 

A properly-implemented MES also removes complexity from ERP, and eradicates paper, Excel, and stand-alone shopfloor applications, creating one version of truth.

“The first is a particularly exciting development of our next-generation MES, known as Enterprise MES. Enterprise MES is for large multi-site, global customers who want to standardise master data globally and benchmark across factories, but who need resilience and low latency for their mission critical MES.

“Second is continued integration with the wider Infor portfolio to deliver even more value to our customers,” Barber adds. “The integration of Infor MES into our suite of solutions marks a strategic move towards a holistic smart manufacturing vision. Infor is one of the few companies on the market who can offer a fully integrated enterprise application landscape, compounding ERP, MES, and advanced technologies such as AI/ML/GenAI through our technology platform Infor OS.”

 

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