Lean Manufacturing is changing the way that companies run their factories and warehouses. As just in time manufacturing takes off, there’s a need to integrate your manufacturing execution system (MES) and warehouse management system (WMS). By connecting the two, information about inventory, parts, and finished goods can help to optimize inventory and increase quality.
Every business is concerned about inventory levels. Keeping inventory is often costly, while the company also risks having a backlog of inventory. The enterprise side of the business is overly concerned about the cost of keeping the inventory. In contrast, the production side is eager to move along the process where work in progress readily converts into inventory. With an integrated WMS and MES system, a pipeline is established where data can be shared on both the enterprise and production side. Work in progress (WIP) can be optimized while finished inventory can be kept at a minimum. When demand rises, it is fairly easy to convert WIP into finished products. At the same time, warehouse space is optimized where minimum inventory is kept as finished goods not sold.
Integrated MES and WMS come with optimizing data flows and material flow between the logistics side of an enterprise and its production side. Strategic decisions such as how much inventory to maintain, what value add to provide, or what customizations are needed, rely on the streamlined data both the enterprise and the production side. Product strategy, manufacturing optimization, and even supplier optimization can be achieved by sharing enterprise and production data.
Just-in-time WIP replenishments
As e-commerce makes manufacturing and shipping more agile, just-in-time replenishments of WIP materials are changing. Huge loads are replaced by smaller runs. Large WIP replenishments often try to support large product mixes or varieties. But, some of the materials don’t end up getting used and have to be reprocessed at the warehouse. The chronic oversupply of materials is partially due to the separation of MES and WMS systems. When integrated, the MES can recognize how long it will take to move the materials to each location. Then, replenishments can be planned in smaller runs. In turn, lead times will improve.
Manufacturing support in warehouses
More manufacturing is happening at the warehouses than ever. WIP tracking and costing functionality are all needed to plan resources and re-tool machines. The lines of WMS and MES are blurred. Inside the WMS, features such as the bill of materials, lot tracking, and work instructions can allow the execution of a strategic configuration that provides for quality and optimization inside the workflow.
Most business environments are uncertain. Value-added services such as drop shipping are popular with manufacturers who are trying to steer their ship to weather the uncertainty. Since the type of value-added service is unpredictable, having robust data sharing between the WMS and MES can allow for strategic considerations. When parts, inventory, and resources are optimized, integrating another set of services or offering add-on services to existing product lines will not mean starting from scratch. Instead, flexibility and variations can be built into existing processes.
Analytics that take account of both production and manufacturing data can help management figure out what value-added services to offer. New service decisions can be based on established workflows and thus lower the initial startup cost at implementation.
Objective’s integrated WMS and MES system allows manufacturers to streamline data between MES and WMS systems. With gate to gate traceability, inventories and WIP can be kept at a minimum. With over 25+ systems integration, production dashboards that contain real-time data across both WMS and MES, strategic decisions about work in progress, value-added service, and inventory can be made to take account of the uncertainty in the marketplace.