Career success is a funny thing. Typically, you start out in the mail room. Your prime objective is to sort everyone’s mail correctly and deliver it on time. It doesn’t get much more micro than that. The interesting dynamic is that as you achieve your objectives and get promoted through the ranks, that micro focus begins to expand. Before you know it, you’re off “the floor.” Instead of concentrating on the 6 inches in front of your nose, you widen your scope and start thinking big picture. The closer you get to the top, you mustn’t concern yourself with the day-to-day minutia so much as all the big levers that make the whole machine go. Your focus becomes macro.
Enhancing You MES
To lose sight of the nuts and bolts that makes your products desirable has its downside. The product is what you’re selling after all, not your manufacturing processes. But how do you strike that balance? A manufacturing execution system (MES) paired with a material ledger extend MES value by adding material flow across the supply chain.
Beginning in the 1990s, the MES was created to capture an “as-built” record of data, processes, and outcomes, not just on a daily, weekly, or monthly cadence like an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), but closer to real time. This kind of trackability is particularly critical in regulated process-manufacturing environments such as food and beverage or pharmaceutical where documentation and proof of processes, events, and actions are often required. The ISA-95 standard, seeking to provide consistent terminology for manufacturing, placed MES in the functional hierarchy of operations management functions (Level 3).
A material ledger is a novel approach to intelligently tracking material and energy movement and transformations, their associated monetary value, process data, and quality data. A material ledger presents the most advanced evolutionary step of all its predecessors, including ERP, MES, and MOM. While it may be difficult to find a foothold in this alphabet soup of acronyms, just know that when paired with an MES, a material ledger enhances food manufacturers’ ability to track physical materials, energy, and the associated information instantaneously.
5 Ways A Material Ledger Can Improve Your MES
In other words, an MES working in tandem with a material ledger is ideal for food manufacturers looking for greater insight on the plant floor. Here are five advantages this pairing provides in food manufacturing:
- Easy-to-use interface
Because MES can be so tied to the food industry plant floor, it must be easy to use. If the interface isn’t intuitive, operators won’t use it, and it’s dead on arrival. A material ledger that can allow those with simple website development skills to build rich custom dashboards and user interfaces goes a long way in creating an engaging tool that operators will use because they can see the value it provides.
- Resource utilization
A material ledger that can utilize existing shop floor sensors and controls through internet of things (IoT) technology offers tremendous value. Food manufacturing equipment generates valuable data that can be used to streamline processes, not only for efficiency but also quality. An MES should be able to automatically capture such data from scales, scanners, and cameras to the benefit of production speed and the elimination of errors.
- Food industry integration
Food manufacturing is unique because its raw materials are inconsistent. Unlike most other industries, individual units can vary in size and count, and often come with a short shelf life. An MES and material ledger built for the food manufacturing industry is better equipped to manage such challenges. ERPs, on the other hand, aren’t typically flexible enough for the specific challenges of food manufacturing, which can lead to issues with inventory valuation, cost calculations, and production forecasting. An MES and material ledger is close enough to the plant floor to offer greater insight into the food industry’s specific challenges.
MES and material ledger provide an integral step toward the promise of full end-to-end traceability. Combined with a proactive digital manufacturing transformation system in the form of a material ledger, an MES can help reduce the risk of recalls, strengthen food safety and compliance, and maximize quality, yield, and profit. Indeed, cutting-edge food traceability helps manufacturers gather data from grain storage, for instance. Grain suppliers need to collect data on their product’s temperature, humidity, and storage levels. With electronic integration, resource utilization through IoT, and intelligent data analytics, farm-to-fork traceability can be achieved. Now businesses can visualize potential grain quality issues well in advance, allowing manual inspections and/or rejection of certain batches. With supply chain issues smoothed over, food manufacturers can keep their plants running at full capacity, which can lead to a vast positive gain in yield. Additionally, smart manufacturing can send up an alert when it’s time to move grain from one silo to another, preserving the organic nature of grain and increasing cost-efficiency at the supply level.
- Greater visibility
An MES and material ledger can map the production process from end to end and deliver real-time status updates. Shop floor managers can then analyze processes more accurately and make the proper corrective actions. A digital manufacturing transformation SaaS, such as ThinkIQ’s, supplements an MES to help deliver unprecedented material visibility into ways to improve yield, quality, safety, compliance, and brand confidence. ThinkIQ’s fact-based granular and data-centric contextualized view of material flows and related provenance attribute data integrates into existing IoT infrastructures and crosses supply chains to manufacturing processes and beyond. Our food & beverage industry manufacturing customers — such as General Mills, McCain, Corning, and Mars — have saved tens of millions of dollars by identifying waste and underperforming assets, as well as reducing warranty reserves for quality and safety issues.
If you’re ready to unlock the full potential of your food manufacturing processes with an MES and ThinkIQ’s Digital Manufacturing Transformation SaaS, contact one of our experts for a consultation today. We also have a new selection guide eBook to help you better understand the questions you should be asking. Download your copy today.