Smart Factories

MES systems: A strategic vision

One of the challenges production 4.0 has to deal with within the framework of Industry 4.0 is related to achieving higher levels of efficiency, profitability and productivity at industrial firms. Generating a perfect, customised system designed to provide real-time information processes has become a reality.

Enhanced competitiveness, efficiency and productivity are still some of the main concerns voiced by manufacturing firms. In terms of production, ICTs play a key role as regards developing the paradigm that Industry 4.0 represents. This new context has led to the establishment of new management requirements for production plants, specifically for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).

New MES adapted to smart factories (MES 4.0) must meet requirements in terms of interoperability, flexibility, decentralization, connectivity, horizontal integration and also provide a support for management, integral data management, online operating capabilities and, above all, take into account the critical human factor.

To achieve this goal, new standards and functions are required to address future scenarios and develop mobile MES components using portable devices (tablets, smartphones, smart glasses) to monitor productive processes in a more friendly manner, fully in line with the productive context and new user needs arising from demographic changes.

IK4-TEKNIKER is jointly researching and developing MES solutions with leading suppliers of ICT solutions based in the Basque Country Some of the most recent contributions made in this field are associated with Industry 4.0 all in line with the IoT (Internet of Things), the reception of plant sensor and device signals using sensorial platforms to facilitate processing & storage and Big Data techniques involving large amounts of information used to optimise global factory efficiency.

As regards advanced analytics, predictive modelling and learning algorithms, hidden knowledge can be extracted from plant data to support decision making aimed at improving process efficiency with regard to operations and energy. In this regard, advanced analysis command charts allow for the interactive visualisation of any data collected and metadata generated as a function of user roles and characteristics.

On the other hand, and thanks to integral plant connectivity and mobile robotics, MES provides support for smart logistics embracing planning and production management systems featuring guided transport vehicles (AGVs) that provide automated distribution of all the necessary materials without requiring any human intervention and therefore offer a high degree of flexibility to adapt to any kind of plant changes.