Manufacturing Execution Software

Lab Information Management Software

An MES, or Manufacturing Execution System, is a specialized genre of manufacturing software used to control both engineering and production environments (also known as the line, shopfloor, fab, job shop, factory, lab etc). Other common phrases used to describe MES software are Operations Management, Production Control and Scheduling, Shopfloor Control, Manufacturing Information System (MIS) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). One of the best reasons to utilize an MES is to achieve a paperless process flow based on a single source of truth.

LIMS is essentially an R&D / engineering friendly version of MES, and that flexibility is baked into the foundation of our product, ToolTrack. Our company came from high-tech R&D and manufacturing, and we're uniquely experienced in addressing the needs of both disciplines simultaneously. With ToolTrack, you don't have to choose between engineering flexibility and production control. You get both.
Lean Manufacturing

At its core, an MES is a real-time system that provides direction and instruction to the factory floor to make sure the right processes are being done at the right time, by the right people (hence the "execution" moniker). The primary unit of track-and-trace is called Work In Progress, or WIP (the widgets you're making), and is often grouped into a logical and/or physical container called a Lot/Work Order. All activity in the manufacturing environment is captured including performance and quality measurements of the WIP to ensure a good finished product.

A good MES will also track the usage and efficiency of industrial equipment and many auxiliary items such as consumable materials (e.g. chemicals, reticles, tooling fixtures) spare parts, and even productivity metrics for operators / technicians.

The MES should always be able to answer the questions of "Who, What, Where, When and How": "Who" performed the activity? "What" data was captured as part of the activity? "Where" did the activity occur, or on which equipment? "When" did this happen and how long did it take? "How" was the activity performed; which recipe was run and/or which work instruction was followed?

An MES will also provide significant insight on factory performance by way of operational dashboards and KPI reports (Key Performance Indicators), the most common of which include yield, throughput and cycle time. These can be utilized as part of a lean manufacturing initiative designed to reduce scrap, and therefore cost. The data being captured on the manufacturing floor can be translated into actionable information that paints a clear picture of how things are actually running; pain points can be identified and inefficiencies resolved.

Analytics MES

While every manufacturing line is different, the most important thing to remember is that the MES must be able to accurately model and capture the way your WIP physically flows through the process.

From a high-level business point of view, an MES can receive input from a planning group or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application, capture the production activities and then provide granular and macroscopic views on the health of the factory. The throughput data provided by the MES can then be fed back to the planning group in order to scale at an appropriate rate. But Manufacturing Execution Systems are not just for mature processes with known cycle times, they are also invaluable during the R&D and ramp-up stages of a company. It all comes down to data integrity and visibility; how much time are you losing because engineers are looking at disparate data sources and have to search multiple spreadsheets (or various paper travelers) for information?
It's important to keep in mind that MES and ERP are two very different types of software that serve different purposes, althouogh there can be a little crossover. ERP is primarily used for upstream supply chain management and financial reporting while MES provides granular insight into how something is locally being manufactured, and how to execute and control that process.
It's also possible to integrate the MES a step further by way of equipment automation utilizing SECS/GEM or OPC, sometimes referred to as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCaDA) or Host Controller, where the MES will communicate with the manufacturing equipment at the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) level to enable capabilities for remote start and fault detection. While this is often viewed as the ultimate achievement vision for high-volume manufacturing, and ToolTrack MES can support this level of equipment integration, it's usually cost prohibitive to implement for most small to medium-sized businesses and results in diminishing returns. Hence the need for a flexible and comprehensive system that supports manual input as well as varying degrees of data collection integration.
At Chain Reaction Systems, we believe a robust MES can bring significant value to SMB manufacturers, particularly in the areas of lean operations and paperless tracking. We also believe that it doesn't have to cost a fortune, take 6+ months to implement or require an entire department to maintain. This is why we developed our innovative ToolTrack platform that delivers the flexibility and visibility to transform an inefficient factory into a world-class manufacturing environment for less than 50% of what other vendors charge... in under 8 weeks. We know it almost sounds too good to be true, so put us to the test! We look forward to earning your business.

Chain Reaction Systems
2950 Buskirk Ave Ste 300
Walnut Creek, CA 94597


Email: info@chainreactionsystems
Phone: +1 (925) 407-2070