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Together with BI, MES Enables Cross-Organizational Reports

Which tool for which report? There is a wide range of programs for data evaluation. In addition to a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), many manufacturing companies also use a business intelligence (BI) tool. While an MES such as FASTEC 4 PRO provides a digital image of production and enables real-time monitoring of production processes, companies can use a BI tool to prepare, manage and visualize data across organizations. Both can be used effectively together.

Valuable Data from MES Enables Effective Use of BI Tool

If manufacturing companies have already tapped into all the possibilities offered by their MES but would like even more data and would like to carry out further reports, it is worth introducing a BI tool. This allows them to gain in-depth and cross-organizational insights and include additional areas in the report. Used sensibly, both the MES and the BI tool have their raison d’être. The prerequisite for this is that a BI tool requires high-quality data. It receives this data from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, an MES and possibly other third-party systems and uses it to create dashboards for reports. If companies want to introduce a BI tool, they should therefore have a solid database as a first step. 

Many companies have a large quantity of data available to them every day. This data should offer added value and therefore be analyzable and prepared in a way that employees can understand. This is the only way they can work with it and analyze it successfully.  

Lars Knitter, Head of Sales & Marketing, Authorized Representative at FASTEC

Many Tools, One Goal: High-Quality Data as a Basis for Decision-Making

An MES such as FASTEC 4 PRO takes on data acquisition tasks. It can be used to digitally collect machine and operating data in a company for the purpose of optimizing production. This includes information on throughput times, machine statuses, reasons for faults and duration. The report of this data provides information about potential errors in the production process and opens up the possibility of detecting faults in real-time and making targeted optimizations in the long term. What used to be recorded manually on paper and in Excel files can now be recorded automatically – saving time for employees and increasing transparency throughout the company. An MES is also suitable for short-term reports and is primarily used in operational business.

An ERP contains all the master data for production orders. This includes order data, article data, the required materials and the underlying logistics processes. These form the basis for the digital management and control of production. In combination with the master data from the ERP, an MES can execute orders on the store floor and control processes digitally. The recorded production data is written back from the MES to the ERP and can be linked to production orders to enable exact post-calculations.

An MES is also easy to use for employees without an IT background. It is therefore primarily aimed at shift and production managers. A BI tool is primarily used at management level. It helps companies to make well-founded decisions. In a BI tool, data from various sources is reported, analyzed, visualized and correlated. It is intended for long-term reporting and is used strategically. Larger volumes of data tend to be processed and IT expertise is required to set it up. The best-known BI tools include Power BI from Microsoft, SAP Business Objects and Qlikview. Possible goals of use include compensating for missing reports, measuring processes and analyzing production planning. BI makes interrelationships between different areas of the company more transparent and thus enables processes at different locations to be compared. 

How Can MES and BI Be Used to Best Effect?

The challenge of using several tools usually lies in using each one in a meaningful way. This means that the tools should complement each other, provide important insights and offer a basis for decision-making in day-to-day work.

An MES such as FASTEC 4 PRO has the task of logically correctly recording the data from production. It therefore makes no sense to use a BI tool alone for reporting. FASTEC 4 PRO has an interface, the BI Connector, for data evaluation in Power BI from Microsoft. This allows data from different data sources, such as real-time data in the BI tool, to be correlated with data from third-party systems (e.g. ERP) and reported together. This makes cross-plant processes measurable and therefore comparable. The BI solution extracts facts and transforms data into meaningful and reliable information. Standard calculations such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), downtimes or error rates can also be imported from the MES.

Employees can flexibly compile views and reports so that they visually convey the right information for each area in an understandable way. The transparent presentation of data makes results, processes or development trends intuitively understandable. Reports are created based on current data sets: data acquisition, aggregation and analysis are possible in real-time and can also be compared with historical data. BI provides reports on key performance indicators (KPI) – these are key figures on the success, performance or capacity utilization of a company, individual organizational units or a machine. An almost infinite number of strategic KPIs are possible for decision-making, as individual KPIs can be flexibly created in the software in addition to the standard ones. 

By integrating different data sources, companies can better understand correlations and gain important insights.  

Lars Knitter, Head of Sales & Marketing, Authorized Representative at FASTEC

As an example, companies can correlate the packaging materials from different manufacturers with the OEE in the production process. This makes it clear whether there is a connection between poor quality packaging and disruptions in production. As a result, companies can select the right materials on this basis and thus increase production efficiency. 

MEDICE Successfully Uses FASTEC 4 PRO Together with Power BI

MEDICE Arzneimittel Pütter GmbH & Co. KG has been working with the FASTEC 4 PRO software solution for many years. At its headquarters in Iserlohn, employees develop, produce and test pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Thanks to transparent data acquisition, reports and the implementation of optimization measures, MEDICE was able to increase OEE by 10 percent in packaging alone.

The company’s Production Planning and Control (PPC) department uses data evaluations to develop the most accurate planned times possible as part of operational excellence. It also identifies sources of disruption or weak points in the production process in order to implement optimization measures. The OEE report (pivot), in which data can be compiled flexibly and clearly, is primarily used for this purpose. Reports are also generated using the BI tool Power BI. This can be bound to FASTEC 4 PRO via an interface in order to transfer the data from the store floor. 

Power BI offers comprehensive reporting and display options for the data from FASTEC 4 PRO, which are particularly relevant for the management level, as they provide an optimal basis for investment decisions.  

Lars Knitter, Head of Sales & Marketing, Authorized Representative at FASTEC

In addition, the management dashboard compiled by MEDICE itself is used for coordination between production management and the individual department heads. The figures are discussed together and conclusions and measures are derived from them. MEDICE visualizes a series of key figures and reports in Power BI using the database from FASTEC 4 PRO. For example, comparisons are made with the previous year and planned production times are compared with the time actually required, including with regard to setup times. Status evaluations and set-up quotas are analyzed to identify the causes of individual failures and downtimes. Reports at product level are also possible. The development of the OEE is also viewed at annual and monthly level in order to identify trends and initiate continuous improvement through optimization measures. 

MES and BI: Identifying Weak Points Together

In summary, it is clear that visualizations make critical information for the production process tangible. The required data is provided by an MES, i.e. digital data acquisition. It collects data in real-time and enables the calculation of individual and standardized KPIs. Companies can visualize these in BI tools such as Power BI via interfaces. BI tools offer the advantage that data from several systems can be merged and analyzed together. This makes previously unknown relationships in the production process visible and allows companies to identify weak points. In addition, employees can react to deviations in real-time, which leads to a reduction in waste and costs in the long term and conserves resources. 

Further Information:

Author: Alexandra Hain

PR & Content Specialist
Experience in B2B communication and target group-specific copywriting in print and online since 2019.

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