How does an MES Help to Increase Machine Uptime?

The benefits of implementing a manufacturing execution system (MES) are plentiful. Among these, MES software can aid in increasing machine uptime in a number of ways. Uptime refers to the efficiency and availability of a piece of manufacturing machinery or equipment. Any time a machine is down (no matter the reason), manufacturers lose productivity. Some of this downtime isn’t avoidable. Machines need regular maintenance and upkeep. Also, some manufacturing facilities close overnight or on the weekends, meaning equipment isn’t operating during those times. So, operating without any downtime at all is extremely rare. However, some manufacturers struggle with frequent downtime that is unplanned, which is cause for concern. Unexpected downtime has a number of negative consequences, especially in the areas of revenue and customer satisfaction, and service. Thus, limiting downtime and increasing uptime is crucial for long-term manufacturing efficiency and overall success.

State of the Art Scheduling Tools           

One of the ways in which an MES can increase uptime is through its scheduling capabilities. Rather than handling scheduling manually, an MES approaches the process using both data analysis and automation. Doing so allows it to more accurately craft schedules based on factors such as order fulfillment requirements, required equipment maintenance, and personnel availability. Because the software processes information and communication in real-time, any changes to the above factors are automatically integrated into the scheduling process, eliminating the need to manually transmit and process new information and then apply it to the scheduling process.

Overall, the scheduling capabilities of a manufacturing execution system improve scheduling and minimize the idle time in a couple of ways:            

Reduce Setup and Disassembly Time –  An unnecessarily long assembly (or disassembly) time for one step of the manufacturing process can negatively impact the rest of the production process. So, limiting the required time it takes to set up and break down each machine is wise. This will also help to keep lead times under control, which trickles down to improved customer satisfaction. In fact, in a study conducted by MESA International, manufacturers reported a reduction in lead time of 35% or better upon implementation of an MES solution. Much of that can likely be attributed to lower setup and breakdown times.

Improve Materials and Components Staging – Along with reducing setup/disassembly times, an MES also helps to improve efforts when it comes to materials and components staging. Staging refers to the transferring of material or components from different work centers to an assembly location. An MES improves the accuracy of this process, so components are where they are needed – when they are needed – meaning no uptime is lost due to inefficient staging efforts.

Alerts of Conflicts: People, Machines, and Tools – The scheduling capabilities of an MES also allow managers to be alerted when unexpected conflicts arise, either with personnel or the machines and tools they use. Because these alerts happen automatically, adjustments can be made if needed to avoid downtime. Examples of adjustments include the shifting of an employee to a different machine or scheduling changes to adjust for an unexpected employee absence.

Real-Time Visibility of the Shop Floor             

Along with its scheduling capabilities, an MES provides the incredibly valuable real-time visibility that all manufacturers strive to achieve. This visibility provides managers with a clear and accurate picture of everything happening within a facility. Included in this visibility are alerts to machines not producing at their standard speeds or those that have stopped completely for some reason. Because these alerts happen in real-time, manufacturers can address issues quickly and limit downtime as much as possible.

Addressing equipment issues generally involves a maintenance team. An MES provides an easy way to communicate with maintenance as issues occur, limiting time spent coordinating and communicating across different departments or facility areas. With the alerts of conflicts capability mentioned above, an MES provides another benefit. If machines do require maintenance and can’t be used, the software can shift schedules around so that personnel is moved to equipment that is functioning and there is no idle time when team members don’t have a piece of equipment to run.

Choosing an MES or Other Manufacturing Software Solution

Most research suggests that implementing a manufacturing execution system – if done so correctly – can completely transform operations within a manufacturing facility. Along with increasing uptime, an MES also helps to reduce scrap and rework, reduce working capital tied up in inventory, and improve customer satisfaction and service.  

There are many software solutions on the market today, and not all are created equal. Also, because industries, and manufacturers within those industries, differ greatly in terms of processes and needs, it’s important to find the best solution based on your organization’s unique needs. At IMCO Software, we strive to find solutions for manufacturers that will maximize efficiency and increase profitability. The manufacturing market is highly competitive, so continuing to operate with inefficient processes or communication methods lessens a company’s chance of long-term profitability and success.

We’ve been partnering with manufacturing leaders across a variety of industries for over 20 years, helping them improve KPIs and streamline operations for greater productivity. Our team of software experts brings decades of experience in manufacturing and supply chain management. We offer a suite of proprietary software solutions and partner integrations to solve even the most complex manufacturing needs. Whether your organization is seeking a new MES to increase machine uptime or simply looking to audit internal processes and find solutions to increase efficiency, the IMCO team can help.  Contact us today to get your shop floor transformation started!

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