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Information, information, information In an engineer-to-order environment, where change is a part of daily life, a manufacturing execution system (MES) provides real time information, allowing for an immediate response, says Thomas R. Cutler Businessexcellence September 07 16 A manufacturing execution system (MES) is a package of functions designed to ensure real-time control of the production processes; MES also includes the transformation of logistics information into process control data. The core value of MES technology is closing the control loop. This includes sending order related data to the shop floor and receiving feedback from shop floor data on how the production process is running. MES allows personnel to act on any interruptions in the production process and happens on every level on the factory floor, from the operator checking the quality sample of the current product being manufactured to the operations manager checking the weekly yield and performance. Real-time data is the key. According to the ETO Institute the term engineer-to-order (ETO) denotes a style of manufacturing rather than a specific industry segment. Other synonymous terms are “project-based” or “custom” manufacturers. ETO companies typically have distinct characteristics about the way they

Operational excellence September 07 Businessexcellence 17 conduct business that differentiates them from discrete or repetitive manufacturers. ETO companies build unique products designed to customer specifications. Each product requires a distinct set of item numbers, bills of material, and routings. Estimates and quotations are required to win business. Products are complex, with long lead times, typically months or even years. Unlike standard products, the customer is heavily involved throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. Engineering changes are a way of life. Material is purchased not for inventory but for a specific project. All actual costs are allocated to a project and tracked against the original estimate. Once complete, the product is typically installed at the customer’s site. In most cases, aftermarket services continue throughout the life of the product. According to Randy Richel, president of Trakware Systems, Inc, implementing ETO MES is a first step in achieving benefits such as: • Optimizing asset utilization • Increasing overall equipment effectiveness • Maximizing return on