What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?

In my former life as a management accountant in industry, I worked in a number of projects which automated either production itself, production planning, or both. A term I was use to at that time was Manufacturing Execution System or MES. So what is an MES and why should management accountants know about them?  Well, an advertisement in the November 2011 edition of Financial Management  (CIMA’s monthly magazine) prompted me to write about it. AN MES is a system which basically communicates from sales through to the actual making of a product or a the start of a process.  An MES may include a sales order module, which would gather customer orders and pass these on to planning modules or directly to process equipment. Typically, an MES will improve a production process as production is scheduled more efficiently and can be monitored for back-logs and jams.  Also, an MES will also typically integrate with an ERP system, which means that a businesses systems are fully integrated. According to the advert in the CIMA magazine, Carlsberg (yes the brewer) improved performance in several areas once it used an MES; sales increased bu 1.5%, gross margins up 1.2%, downtime decreased from 28% to 13%, material loss decreased by 1%. All of these translate into increased profitability, which of course is of interest to managers and management accountants. I would argue that understanding how an MES works in a business is a vital piece of kit for any management accountant, particularly if such performance improvements can be made. If you are interested in reading some more, here are two websites I am familiar with which offer MES systems; Kiwiplan and ATS.


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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

2 responses to “What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?”

  1. lecturersnotes says :

    Obviously, this is just feasible for manufacturers, However, wouldn’t such a system be somewhat of a necessity when process costing is involved?

    What I also see is a parallel to Six Sigma – an MES could deliver the data for what Six Sigma wants to achieve.

    • martinjquinn says :

      Yes, an MES is often the information provider to many software suites, programmes (like Six Sigma) and other things. MES’s typically get adopted in complex production environments where off-the-shelf solutions are simply not specialised enough.

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