When running a production company, especially in the food industry, you have to take care of several processes and standards to create a high-quality product, including specific thermal conditions. There are many different solutions on the market today that support operational activities in production plants. However, their disadvantage is that they are not connected and thus do not ensure a smooth flow of data and work. It leads to communication problems and delays in action. If you face these problems in your company, consider implementing comprehensive Manufacturing Execution Software. This system helps solve existing problems and support the stable and dynamic development of the company.
From the article, you will learn:
- What is the MES system?
- What distinguishes the MES system for food production?
- How does the MES support the work of production?
- With what software does the MES integrate?
- MES system bespoke or ready – which one choose?
- What MES systems do we offer?
- Of what modules does the MDM MES system consist?
- What are the benefits of having the MDM MES system?
What is the MES system?
The MES (Manufacturing Execution System) supports the production and production-related processes from the operational side. Programs of this class specialize primarily in handling the entire track and tracing cycle. In other words, MES cares about what is to appear or has already appeared on production lines, e.g.:
- notifies about the amount of a raw material needed for production,
- informs where the product is on the production line,
- notifies what exactly has been used to create a product.
The MES system is a comprehensive tool optimizing work, resources and production costs. However, it is worth remembering that programs of this class usually have nothing to do with financial and accounting activities. But they can be integrated with accounting programs to transfer relevant data.
What distinguishes the MES system for food production?
The broadly understood food industry characterized several standards that decided on products releases for sale. What distinguishes the MES system for the food industry is the adjustment of its functions to these requirements. Imagine that due to one raw material used in production, a given batch of a product (e.g. feed) after release to the market turned out to be non-compliant with general standards and should be quickly withdrawn from use. A properly selected MES program allows you to trace the damaged raw material along the entire chain of processes performed in the factory and precisely locate it in the final products. This allows them to be quickly withdrawn from the market, even if they have already reached the end customer.
Of course, if a problem with a raw material appears at an earlier stage of production, the system helps you react quickly to it – suspending and withdrawing materials from circulation.
The MES system for the food industry also has contamination modules. When the same production lines are responsible for several different products, you have to ensure the proper equipment cleaning before starting the production again. It is important, especially in animal feed, e.g. the raw materials used in pig food can harm other animals. Therefore, the MES system for food production must ensure control over possible production consequences and check that everything is done in safe conditions.
How does the MES support the work of production?
The MES program supports the work of production by implementing standardization of production processes. This is important both in small and large, multi-branch production companies. Normalization of activities always positively affects the reduction of the company’s costs, for example, by automating processes previously performed manually – like entering data into the database and easy preparation of reports on their basis. It allows you to reduce the workload or transfer employees to other activities.
The implementation of the MES system also influences the streamlining of activities and more accurate registration of information in such areas as:
- receipt of goods,
- storage of raw materials and finished products,
- production records,
- quality control,
- sale of products.
A properly selected and implemented production system ensures comprehensive operation between the above areas. Thus, influencing the optimization of order fulfilment time. It leads to faster returns on investment (e.g. purchase of new machines) and increased company revenues.
Comprehensive registration and monitoring also allow for early detection of non-conformities and reacting to them in real-time. It applies to stock shortages, equipment failures, the function of tracking deliveries and sales of finished products in terms of a potential withdrawal of goods from the market if they turned out to be defective.
The MES system also supports the quality control of raw materials and finished products at the early stages of the production process. It limits the number of defective goods released to the market.
The MES system also influences production optimization in terms of resource use. With the program, you can precisely calculate the quantities of raw materials needed to manufacture the product and ensure the most appropriate use of production materials stored in warehouses. The same applies to human and machine resources, allowing for the best planning of production lines. You can also collect information on the generated waste back in stock.
With what software does the MES integrate?
The MES system integrates with external programs that operate in enterprises (e.g. PCS, LIMS, ERP, TMS, DMS). It should also work seamlessly with solutions offered by automation vendors. It is very important as it affects the automation of data flow and thus accelerates the implementation of all other processes.
MES system bespoke or ready – which one choose?
When you are looking for an MES system for a company, it is worth considering several options. The first is to purchase a ready-made program for production and, if necessary, adjust it to the requirements of your company. Ready-made solutions are cheaper. But their functionalities do not always match the specific needs of the company. At Kotrak, we offer the possibility of creating bespoke additions or adjusting our production solutions to ready-made box systems. It is a good solution for enterprises that cannot allocate larger amounts to creating a dedicated solution.
Another option is a system created and implemented by your individual needs. That kind of software is irreplaceable support in building an advantage in the market. A dedicated solution supports the operation of processes and methods that distinguish your company. These programs are designed to fit the companies’ development plans.
Many manufacturing companies already have systems or applications that support some of their operational processes. In such cases, the problem often turns out to be the lack of communication between these tools and thus the lack of automation and optimization of production activities. It mainly hampers data flow and smooth operation.
In Kotrak, we offer our clients the platform that combines all the solutions available in the company, thus creating one source of data collection and flow. In this way, transparent sequences of process events are created, allowing for comprehensive reporting and control of activities in the production plan. This platform is a flexible tool that we can fully adapt to the needs of our clients.
What MES systems do we offer?
Kotrak has been at the forefront of the largest IT service providers for the agricultural and food processing sector for several years. We owe this position primarily to a thorough and ongoing analysis of our clients’ needs. For them, we have created a comprehensive solution that is more than a standard MES system. It combines the functions of a production system and an ERP system, excluding only accounting topics.
Our program works in the MDM model, i.e. Master Data Management. It is nothing more than the communication platform, ensuring the development and maintenance of one source of data flowing between modules supporting individual production processes. This solution enables the unification of processed data, thus supporting all company processes. The structure of the system we offer for production also ensures operational safety. It is especially important when the company has several factories. Even if they work on their internal systems, our specialists can integrate them with the platform, creating a centrally supervised system operating on one database.
We can also easily integrate the MDM MES program with products provided by automation suppliers. We have equipped our solution with API (Application Programming Interface), i.e. a tool ensuring communication between machines and a production system. We have been working on its improvement for the last 10 years. Our API contains most of the information needed for proper cooperation.
Of what modules does the MDM MES system consist?
Our MDM MES class system is built from a flexible modular structure. What does it mean? Each of the modules can operate independently. If your company has a solution for given operational processes, we can integrate it with our modules. In this way, we create a comprehensive management tool.
Our solution includes modules that support the following processes:
- entry and exit control,
- warehouse management,
- quality control,
- production planning,
- control of production processes.
The MDM MES system provides comprehensive knowledge of everything that is happening in your factories. How does it work in practice?
Let’s assume that you received raw material in the warehouse. With the help of the program, you collect comprehensive knowledge about it from the very beginning:
- where does it come from,
- where was it admitted,
- where is it stored,
- where has it been transferred.
The system also allows you to manage your inventory levels in terms of shelf life, according to the period you can use or sell them. Receipts and releases may be carried out based on:
- purchase/sale orders,
- notification (in the case of receptions).
The module also provides registration of packages and pallets. It also handles returns, allowing you to evaluate the delivery, e.g. in terms of the means of transport, and manage the loading of the car during the release.
Another segment served by MDM MES is quality control. It is a module whose work is not limited only to the quality control of raw materials but is related to production planning and registration.
We integrate quality control with the laboratory system and the laboratory devices themselves. This module allows you to register samples, order their analysis, and prepare comprehensive reports based on the obtained results. They can be used for the certification of goods and building a database of internal reports that support the improvement of production work.
The quality control module also allows you to prepare a series of surveys, according to the needs of your factory. With it, you create supplementary questionnaires for operators regarding, for example, suppliers quality control. With their help, you can collect information such as:
- does the given supplier have a sanitary inspection book,
- what was the condition of the car trailer,
- whether the bags or packages are damaged in any way.
In this way, you get a full range of information from the receipt process, through storage, use in production, and even returns. It is nothing more than a full view of the entire track and tracing process, i.e. tracking the raw material in production and later on sale. This function is especially important in the case of withdrawing a certain batch of raw material. With a single report, you can track in which products the defective batch was used and when to whom and in what quantities it was sold. It allows for quick and efficient returns from the market, which is very important, especially in the food industry.
The production registration module is a solution with which you can comprehensively plan and verify the feasibility of a given production plan. With it, you optimally plan the workload of production resources and receive real-time insight into the work progress, thanks to comprehensive reports created on an ongoing basis and available online. In this way, you can react immediately to changes, e.g. in the event of changes intolerance – when the amount of raw material has been exceeded or given too little. Not only that!
Our MES system helps you put back the generated production waste to inventory and manage them according to your company needs.
The MDM MES program gives you full control over each product. The strength of our system lies precisely in the amount of information collected and processed. It not only communicates who and when took a given raw material sample, but also about when the delivery arrived, from whom, what size it was, etc. Based on this data, you can create a sampling schedule, e.g. based on the size of deliveries. Thanks to this, you gain possibilities of action. You can plan the entire production path from setting the order of manufactured products, verifying whether their plan coincides with both the inventory needed for their implementation, as well as sales plans.
Now you can handle stock levels, control places and movements, and plan production. You easily and quickly calculate the demand for raw materials, verifying their level in the production warehouse. If it turns out that something is missing, you will quickly generate orders for transferring several additional pallets to the production warehouse. Thus, MDM MES provides an operational approach to processes, allowing for the ongoing registration of work, and its control in real-time.
What are the benefits of having the MDM MES system?
The benefits of having an MDM MES system are, above all, optimization and automation of the entire production operation, and thus cost reduction with more efficient use of available and new resources. You also standardize all processes and improve the work of the entire company.
The processes in various factories operating within one enterprise often differ. The introduction of a system operating on one common database ensures that the company’s processes are standardized, and thus its operation is improved. Standards allow, among others for faster introduction of people to the work of a given production factory. This is especially important during the employee relocation, e.g. as a result of temporary staff shortages caused by illness. In such situations, people get implemented faster, because they already know the flowchart of the processes from their workplace. Building process standards for all locations is now considered a global standard that improves the quality of business operations. All the rest of the elements follow this one factor, which distinguishes well-functioning and developing factories from others on the market.
The MDM MES system is a comprehensive service for all production processes. From the very arrival, we can register the entire supply of raw materials, semi-finished products and products, and then control their production cycle, until it is shipped to end customers.
In addition, we provide our clients with training in the use of software and comprehensive post-implementation assistance. We care for the correct operation of the system and ensure its development. In this way, the software always keeps pace with your business and its plans.
The article was written in cooperation with Paweł Ogiela, Senior Software Development Manager at Kotrak S.A.
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