Design of MES

The goal of a digital Manufacturing Execution System is to create a common digital infrastructure where work centres, production lines, machines and operations software packages can communicate to one another.


Design and architecture of digital MES is the most important step for the business implementing MES. The MES is the main interpreter of machine’s data for operations. As the business grows the “interpreter” needs to satisfy the growth changes, so MES needs to be flexible and adaptable. Hence, the architecture of digital MES must be open and free of proprietary protocols and vendor-locked software packages.

Components of open architecture MES are usually common technologies and open protocols. For example SQL databases to persist data, internet protocols for connectivity, MQTT for industrial integration.

Implementing best practises for custom MES design helps to the end users to reduce cost on the following stages:

In the picture above suggested architecture helps reduce cost of development by introducing Unified Namespaces* (UNS) methodology. The UNS is based on open pub/sub technology MQTT. The UNS interacts with all layers of the automation stack, defined by ISA-95 standard. The costs are reduced by eliminating the need of development and maintenance of discrete connection between layers of the automation stack.

ERP, MES and machines interact with each other via the common infrastructure. ERP consumes data from the machines and MES system via UNS for real time updates. When the MES consumes Product Codes, Quantity, Bill of Material, etc from ERP for Work Order management.

* Unified Namespaces (UNS) terms and methodology were introduces by Walker Reynolds, president of 4.0 Solutions, to designate a concept that allows real-time processing and traffic of contextualised, normalised, and aggregated information at manufacturing enterprises. Learn more about the approach as 4.0 Solution YouTube channel.

Digital MES usually include the following four (4) core primary functional capabilities:

Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a standardised efficiency calculation for production equipment (the best YouTube video on OEE is from 4.0 Solutions here).

OEE is the only KPI that can be used to compare effectiveness of different machines. For instance, one machine makes chain pins (a blade cuts rods to certain lengths) and another one makes chain links (more complex: batch, quince and shot peening processes). Calculating OEE for these machines allows comparison of efficiency of these machines, even though these are very different in their nature.

Additionally, due to standardisation of OEE it can be rolled up to ad-hoc groups. The number of machines can be grouped into OEE of a production line. The number of production lines can be grouped into OEE of an area. The areas' OEE can be grouped into a site. The site OEE allows the executives to understand the capacity of the sites.

So, Overall Equipment Effectiveness is one of the important metrics to assess “health” of the manufacturing operations. For accurate health assessment OEE must be calculated digitally and preferably on all levels of the business: cell (machine), production line, area, site.

Analysis of OEE components helps identify problematic areas to target for efficiency improvements. If any of the components is low it indicates the following:


Real time visibility of entire manufacturing business

Accurate OEE calculation for manufacturing capacity analysis

Leverage Machine Learning technology to predict future state of the business

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* hero image is provided by Drazen Zigic on Freepik