ERP and MES software developments turn manufacturing information into profitability

Sheila Kennedy says manage data before it manages you.

By Sheila Kennedy

Manufacturers are seeing more efficient and powerful capabilities in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) software solutions. New approaches to managing information, quality, and master production schedules are driving improvements throughout the enterprise.

Managing manufacturing information

Keeping everyone in sync and alerted to production events is essential in manufacturing. The Demand-Driven Manufacturing Platform from Synchrono collects, analyzes, and synchronizes workforce, methods, materials, and machine data from multiple systems in real time and presents it in a configurable visual factory information system.

“Users have the ability to create graphic visualizations of the production status at the plant, work cell, and machine level,” says John Maher, vice president of product strategy at Synchrono. “With the Synchrono Platform, manufacturers are better equipped to differentiate at a service and capacity level, because they’re in a better position to more effectively manage constraints, improve flow, and ensure on-time production.”

The Factory Framework V5 from Forcam helps manufacturers take advantage of the wealth of digital data coming off the factory floor. Winner of Frost & Sullivan’s 2014 award for New Product Innovation Leadership in Plant Production Software Solutions for Discrete Industries, it addresses the flexibility and agility challenges of Industry 4.0, the fourth generation of industrial automation, through features such as complex event processing.

“The vast amounts of data compiled by manufacturing operations — big data — and how to collect, analyze, leverage, and secure this invaluable data requires a cyber-physical system using in-memory technology. Forcam’s Factory Framework V5 can deliver this technology,” says Franz Gruber, CEO at Forcam.

The RealTime Process Monitoring module from IQMS extends its EnterpriseIQ manufacturing ERP system to provide accurate traceability and the ability to correlate process parameters of a part in real time.

"With the manufacturing industry's embracement of the Internet of Things, IQMS has been able to bring two-way shop floor communication, data collection, and production control to a new level," says Glenn Nowak, vice president at IQMS. "Through PLCs and sensors connected at the work center or data collection point, IQMS's RealTime Process Monitoring system gathers every process parameter you can imagine and then relays it to the ERP software in real time for analysis and traceability."

The Dell Services Shop Floor solution provides the intelligence and tools needed to address manufacturing process disruptions. It integrates with the SAP MII and SAP ME applications on SAP HANA and can be deployed on standard or ruggedized Dell Venue Pro tablet devices.

“Data-intensive manufacturing companies, such as those in the oil and gas industry, not only need to collect, but also extract true business value from data within their operations,” says Jay Monahan, SAP director and global shop floor lead at Dell Enterprise Application Services. “Dell’s SAP Shop Floor practice leverages evolving technologies, such as SAP HANA, to transform the manufacturing decision-making process by giving all levels of the business access to real-time information.”

Quality processes

Quality optimization is easier with integrated tools and information. The latest release of TrackWise, an enterprise quality management system (EQMS) from Sparta Systems, provides access to all of the company’s associated tools and services, including its mobile, analytics, and cloud-based supplier quality management solutions.

“Modern, cloud-based technology can be used to increase visibility in complex, global supplier networks by interconnecting suppliers, service providers, and contract manufacturers to a pre-existing internal QMS, ensuring quality beyond your four walls,” says Mohan Ponnudurai, industry solution director at Sparta Systems. “Mobile devices that provide access to the QMS 24/7 can also be used to improve employee efficiency and company go-to-market timelines without compromising quality.”

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at

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Production scheduling

Simplifying a scheduler’s job benefits the plant floor. With the Digital Whiteboard from AIM Computer Solutions, scheduling and CRP data generated in the AIM Vision system are displayed on one or more large monitors on the plant floor. Workers can see which jobs are coming up next, their hours-to-go values, and other information that is not normally at hand.

“Plants across America have dry-erase or magnet note boards that reflect the machine schedule lineup,” says Jerry Czernel, vice president of operations at AIM Computer Solutions. “In today’s competitive plant, an automatic feed of demands are moved into an MRP system, and net manufacturing obligations are automatically fed into a digital whiteboard, complete with drag-and-drop capabilities for last-minute changes, saving hours of non-value-added work.”

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.