MES for Lean manufacturing: is it really a necessity?

MES applications are an enabler of lean implementation: they allow the theoretical lean methodologies to be implemented in the practical and real world processes
MES for Lean manufacturing: is it really a necessity? (PresseBox) (Dresden, ) Lean Manufacturing is the art and science of doing more with less, which means higher productivity with minimal waste and continuous effort towards improvement. Theoretically lean manufacturing is based on the pull philosophy, where production is demand driven and is geared up to produce only what is required.

Most manufacturers would have come across and even implemented some kind of lean methodology in their processes: 5S, Kaizen, Poka-Yoke, JIT, Jidoka, the PDCA cycle or Kanban. All aim at reducing waste, improving quality, higher profitability and disciplined production. So where do IT systems like the MES fit in the lean manufacturing propaganda?

Any IT application, especially the ones implemented in manufacturing, is often expected to implement the lean postulates. Manufacturers and MES vendors need to take a very realistic and scientific approach to implementation of these lean philosophies, applying one of the most important pillars of Lean: common sense.

"From a lean perspective, production should not be pushed from one activity to another, but manufacturing best practices at times might dictate allowing for a certain degree of push, based on analysis of past data and demand trends of the last few months."

To this end, if the MES application for such a plant is strictly geared up to provide for and accommodate scheduling and planning solely based on demand, the overall process execution might suffer and there would be unevenness in the entire process, which is also a violation of Lean.

So, a truly lean MES application would be flexible enough to let process owners use an optimum combination of the push and pull methodology in individual process activities, to ensure that the overall pull implementation remains efficient.

Similar to above example, when a bottleneck pushes goods towards other subsequent operations, a small intermediate stock might develop. In the ‘ideal’ lean process, process inventory is considered an unnecessary waste.

For more information about MES for lean manufacturing click here to read the complete blog post


Critical Manufacturing Deutschland GmbH
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Tom Bednarz
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