What is the difference between ERP and MES?
The short answer is:
An MES is used in production environments and provides real-time insight into the status of production. Whereas the ERP is used to support administrative processes and does not provide real-time information. Real-time information is a plus during production so that you can make adjustments quickly in the event of deviations.
If you are curious about the detailed answer, please watch the following video (Dutch).
In this video our consultant Niek Arts answers the following questions:
- How do you see the developments regarding ERP suppliers adding MES functionalities and vice versa?
- How do you see the integration of level 2 towards level 3?
- To what extend do ERP and MES communicate with each other?
The slides accompanying the video have been added to the bottom of this page. The entire MES presentation can be requested here.
On this page, you can read much more about MES. For example:
- MES Introduction
- MES Strategy
- MES Systems
- MES Selection
- MES Implementation
- MES Optimalisation
If you have any questions after watching the video, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you!
Wondering what a new MES can mean for your organization? Please contact Jos!
What is the difference between ERP and MES?
We regularly received the question: what is the difference between ERP and MES? We realized that this was not at all as clear as it might seem to us, so I would like to zoom in on that. The traditional layer model. So what I just said, I won’t go into it in a very theoretical way. I’m actually going into it here, but anyway, that’s the next chapter. Well, you see, ERP really positions itself at level 4, so the business planning. MES is really on the manufacturing operations planning. An ERP system is actually substantially different from an MES system. The (ERP) actually deals with the planning and especially the administration of the entire factory or several factories and is actually company-wide. If you have several factories, you often have the same ERP system, and an ERP system is transactional. Whereas MES actually receives the data directly from the factory and can process it immediately, ERP; that goes with transactions, it goes with ehm… – It’s a lot slower. It’s a lot slower. It is actually suitable for a different purpose than what MES is suitable for. And it was developed and made with this background in mind. You keep track of your stocks. It contains a complete financial administration. All this is typically an ERP function.
MES is much more on the production floor
What should he do, at what time, with which recipe? Does he get a signal from the control system? Then very fast signals, very fast reaction times. ERP is simply not suitable for this. What you do see in the recent period is that ERP is trying to gain ground at the expense of level 3 / MES. What you see is that, for instance, scheduling is really coming towards ERP. So also detail scheduling. So if you have a production line with all kinds of workstations on it, ERP is increasingly coming in. You can also plan the workstations separately instead of: line – make this order. Orders and registration of consumption and yields. Well, in an ERP you can scan. There are modules in ERP where you can actually scan stock into a line and mark it as consumption. We see that every now and then there are some systems that really. Here I have mentioned a few examples. Really trying to integrate those modules for OEE and also for quality. So, for example, you do your quality control in our SAP-MES module. And then it is also registered. Well, these are just three examples I mentioned. It’s just: what’s suitable for your situation. I must admit, however, that I have not really had much to do with these MES systems. But maybe that has to do with me too.
Which functionality will we do in MES and which in ERP?
Just an example from our practice. A while ago, we performed a scan at one of our customers to determine which functionality should be implemented in MES and which in ERP. It actually showed these differences. So you see what I just said: finance is really very clear in ERP. The MES has nothing to do with finance. The MES consumes things, brings in things, but the whole financial handling is done in ERP. Scheduling: ERP can do it. MES can do it in much more detail; really on a workstation, on a work area. With regard to workforce planning: it is almost impossible in ERP. In MES, you can actually schedule people on a particular line or at a particular workstation to work with that competency. MRP: yes, also a typical ERP functionality, because ERP looks much further. It is set out much further in time. As also just mentioned MES really focuses on the coming hours, days, and not much further than that. Here, for example, is what MES is really better suited for. For production in this case, of course, and ERP is much more at a different level than MES. This was one of the conclusions from that report: what ERP is very good at saying is: these raw materials were used to make this end product but what happened in between is often not known to an ERP at all and that’s where we get the lists and the ‘Excels’ and things like that and actually what you want to know: what happened, in which process and in which tank did a semi-manufactured product sit, for example, what were the process settings at the time the product was made? Which version of the recipe was used? was it version 2, version 3, was it ‘updated’ yes or no? What were the results of the quality measurement? Why did we hear a deviation from the market? What was measured by that operator?… These are precisely the points that ERP cannot provide. And this is just a zoom-in on that table we just had. So one of the differences between MES and ERP is really the level of detail. You get that from production, you can’t do that in ERP. On the other hand, you can’t do the financial processing in MES, so they are actually two different areas of work. If there are no questions, I will pass the floor back to Jos. From no question to… Question: it is about the development from MES to ERP. How do you assess that yourself? This one, you mean? I think it is a very logical development because you see that the ERP people also see that there is still something to be gained there. Look, my first picture; there you saw the stacks of paper and Excel. Often, those companies are also trying to find something to fill a gap. In some cases, this can also be done with ERP, and I don’t mean to put down certain parties, but there are ERP people who very easily say: we can do that too. And then it can be done in a certain way, but you can’t deviate from that standard if you want other things. And you can’t say, for example, “Well, in the future we’ll also want line integration”. But you can scan the barcode, so yes, we can see that vertical integration is coming. You only see that the MES suppliers have really focused on a certain area, but they are still far better at it than ERP.
How do you see the integration of level 2 toward level 3?
Good question. I deliberately didn’t focus on that, because I think you could take another hour or so. But I always think that is one of the best integrations. To really take the stool away from the operator or to relieve an operator… The other sentence is a bit strange. No, but you see that more and more functions are added: OPC, UA… They are being used more and more. You really see, especially with downloading to a batch system, you really see that: MES has a certain version of the recipe, that is done with a batch system and that is completely executed by the control system. I mean we have projects where the operator actually starts a production order in MES and then actually only has to do quality measurements so MES knows what still needs to be done. So additional organization is required, does heating or cooling still have to be carried out, or is it ready to be transported to the next tank? So that level 2 and 3 integration. What we also see in the developments between MES and level 2, and level 1 somewhat less, but you can occasionally see integration between certain sensors. And that’s where you see really big steps being made. Really with whole interface layers, with which you actually build up the whole interface, and not all the signals to certain text in the PLC separately, but really that the interface layer takes care of everything and that it actually goes really fast. Of course, level 2 is also developing better all the time, so you can often get XML messages from either a batch system or a SCADA system, which immediately gives you a certain level of consumption. Question: you talk about the integration of ERP moving more and more towards MES. To what extent are the two also going to communicate with each other, so to speak? What I often notice is that you have your ERP next to your MES, when you actually go to scanning, for example, you actually want this automatic feedback: this has been produced, and when you subsequently feedback your material planning. Well, you see, that’s a matter of setting up interfaces… Yes, you can do that if you have SLP or… Does that just communicate with each other? Yes, because you need precisely those orders from ERP to execute them in MES. In MES you also have, for example, for your MRP run and your financial administration, you want to know what I have consumed and you want to know: okay, I just produced this semi-manufactured product so it is in the pipeline. These are all signals that you can, well, that can be sent from… You have the table that is interfaced with, you have XML, which is very widely used and recently SAP has also increased, just to take SAP as an example, web interfacing… So that it’s through a direct signal actually. No, that’s… Look… You could, of course, use MES without the whole ERP integration, but then you’d miss out on a whole lot. It’s really that integration. OK, well, in most MES projects I always try to make it clear that it’s not just one system that you come up with here as an island but it’s actually… You adapt the whole chain, from top to bottom. It is complete integration, so things have to happen here as well, things have to happen here as well. It is not like: you tell me what has to happen in your project… No, we do it together, because everywhere we adapt and try to optimize, because that is the main question.