What is an MES?

Manufacturing Execution System

Manage your processes digitally, let go of paper and spreadsheets. Bridge the gap between top-floor and shop-floor, and get real-time visibility over every step of your production.

What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?

A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is a software solution to automate and digitize manufacturing processes. Manage, monitor, and track the transformation of raw materials into finished products in real-time. Gain insight into manufacturing operations to see how to improve performance, lower costs and increase production efficiency.

Quality management

Control the production process to ensure consistent quality, by setting quality standards, conducting inspections, implementing corrective actions, and enabling continuous improvement.

Material requirements

Determine the quantity and timing of materials required based on the production schedule. Optimize inventory levels, minimize stockouts, and ensure that materials are available when needed for production.

Production scheduling

Create a detailed plan by determining the sequence and timing of operations, assigning resources, and allocating time for each task to meet production targets.

Manufacturing execution

Control and manage production operations on the shop floor, with real-time monitoring, tracking, and controlling of manufacturing processes, equipment, and personnel.


How does a manufacturing execution system work?

Real-time monitoring

MES provides real-time visibility into shop floor operations. It monitors equipment, production processes, and resources, allowing for immediate response to issues and optimization of production.


Production tracking

MES tracks and traces products, materials, and processes throughout the manufacturing lifecycle, helping with quality control, compliance, and the ability to quickly address defects or recalls.


Resource management

MES helps manage and schedule resources such as labor, machines, and materials. You can optimize production schedules, reduce downtime, and ensure resources are allocated effectively.


Industries that use manufacturing execution systems

Make to Order

Building Products

Customized production of building materials and components, such as windows, doors, roofing materials, and architectural elements.


Image courtesy of IG Masonry

Make to stock

Consumer Products

Production of consumer products, such as smartphones and laptops, which are manufactured in volume for general market demand.



Food & Beverage

Food processors and beverage manufacturers that utilize JIT (Just-in-Time) to maintain freshness and minimize inventory holding costs.


Under Armour shoe being manufactured

Lean Manufacturing


Textiles, fabrics, and garments producers using lean principles to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and decrease lead times.


How does MES compare to other business management software?

Shop-floor digitalization can get confusing, with acronyms such as PLM, MRP, ERP, and MES coming up often. In the end, how do these differ and which one is right for you?

MES - Manufacturing Execution System

Focused on manufacturing, it monitors, tracks, documents, and controls the production of goods from raw materials to finished products. It uses real-time data to provide information on production progress. It includes MRP, Quality Management, Production Scheduling, and Planning capabilities.


PLM - Product Lifecycle Management

Used to manage the product development lifecycle from conception through production, all the way to service, maintenance, and end-of-life.


MRP - Material Requirements Planning

A system for calculating the materials and components needed to manufacture a product.  This often consists of inventory control, identifying what’s needed and it may also include scheduling their production or purchase.


ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning

A comprehensive system that consolidates all aspects of a business, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Purchasing and Accounts, Human Resources (HR), Material Requirements Planning (MRP), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and more.


Benefits of manufacturing execution systems

Increase efficiency

Find where waste is being produced effortlessly, get real insights into time management, identify your bottlenecks in manufacturing/production, and get actionable insights.

Digitization and automation

Gain access to real-time data such as labor, scrap, downtime, and maintenance with digital processes that scale across your entire supply chain.

Reduce waste

Detect inconsistencies on the shop floor to quickly limit the number of bad parts and materials wasted.

Introducing Autodesk's MES software

Watch the video for an inside look of our trial experience.

Autodesk Fusion Operations

A unique cloud-based MES solution that goes beyond traditional systems. Autodesk Fusion Operations is your partner in manufacturing optimization, offering quick implementation, intuitive use, and delivering results from day one.

With Autodesk, you're not just adopting a solution but embracing a vision to bridge the gap between Design and Make. By connecting data, teams, and workflows, Autodesk Fusion Operations empowers insights and informed business decisions.

See how customers are using Fusion Operations

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Simply fill in the form, and an expert will contact you to discuss Fusion Operations and find a solution to best fit your company’s product development needs.


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Frequently asked questions on MES

What is a manufacturing execution system (MES)?

A manufacturing execution system (MES) is a software-based system that helps manage and control manufacturing operations on the shop floor. It acts as a bridge between the production planning and control systems and the actual manufacturing process. MES provides real-time visibility into production activities, collects and analyzes data, and facilitates decision-making to optimize production efficiency and quality.

What does a manufacturing execution system (MES) do?

A manufacturing execution system (MES) performs various functions to streamline and improve manufacturing operations. It includes features such as:

  • Production scheduling and sequencing
  • Material tracking and inventory management
  • Quality control and inspection
  • Equipment and resource management
  • Real-time data collection and analysis
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Traceability and genealogy tracking

By automating and integrating these functions, MES helps manufacturers optimize production processes, reduce costs, improve quality, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

What’s the difference between MES and ERP?

While both manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are used in manufacturing, they are complementary and serve different purposes:

  • MES: Focuses on managing and controlling the execution of manufacturing operations on the shop floor. It provides real-time visibility, data collection, and analysis to optimize production efficiency, quality control, and resource utilization.

  • ERP: Manages and integrates various business processes across the entire organization, including finance, human resources, procurement, inventory management, and sales. ERP systems provide a centralized database and facilitate planning, resource allocation, and decision-making at the enterprise level.

In summary, MES focuses on the shop floor operations, while ERP focuses on broader business processes and enterprise-wide integration.

How does a manufacturing execution system (MES) work?

A manufacturing execution system (MES) works by connecting and coordinating different aspects of the manufacturing process. It integrates with various systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), and devices on the shop floor, to gather real-time data.

MES software then analyzes this data to provide insights into production performance, resource utilization, and quality metrics. It enables operators and managers to monitor and control production activities, make informed decisions, and take corrective actions when necessary. MES also facilitates communication and collaboration between different departments involved in the manufacturing process.

Can MES integrate with other enterprise systems?

Yes, through API protocols, manufacturing execution systems (MES) can integrate with other enterprise systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management (SCM) systems. Integration allows for data exchange and coordination between different systems, enabling a holistic view of the entire manufacturing process.

By integrating with other enterprise systems, MES can leverage data from various sources to optimize production planning, inventory management, resource allocation, and overall operational efficiency. It also helps in achieving end-to-end visibility and traceability across the supply chain.

What industries benefit most from MES implementation?

Manufacturing execution systems (MES) can benefit a wide range of industries, including:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace and defense
  • Electronics and semiconductor
  • Pharmaceutical and life sciences
  • Food and beverage
  • Consumer goods
  • Chemicals
  • Energy and utilities

These industries often have complex manufacturing processes, strict quality and regulatory requirements, and a need for real-time visibility and control over production operations. MES implementation helps optimize production efficiency, improve quality control, ensure regulatory compliance, and enhance overall operational performance.

How does MES and ERP work together?

MES and ERP systems can work together to provide end-to-end visibility and control over manufacturing operations. They complement each other by integrating data and processes across different levels of the organization.

MES collects real-time data from the shop floor, such as production status, quality metrics, and resource utilization, and feeds this information to the ERP system. The ERP system then incorporates this data into its broader business processes, such as inventory management, order fulfillment, and financial planning.

The integration between MES and ERP enables better coordination between production planning and execution, improves inventory accuracy, facilitates accurate demand forecasting, and enhances overall operational efficiency. It also allows for seamless data exchange and reporting between the shop floor and the enterprise level, enabling informed decision-making and continuous process improvement.

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