In last month's feature, we discussed various categories of data-management software systems used in manufacturing. This month, we’ll continue this conversation by more deeply defining the difference between ERP systems and MOM / MES systems and discussing how ERP integration with MES systems empowers manufacturers with real-time business intelligence to make better decisions.

As manufacturing processes and supply chains grow more complex, the first step many companies take to gain better control of their data is to install an ERP system. This is a logical choice because ERP systems are designed to connect data from various processes across an enterprise to streamline communication.


What are some common challenges in implementing an ERP or ERP integration?

  1. ERP systems are highly complex and require a great deal of customization.
  2. The implementation process requires a deep understanding of your company’s processes to ensure that your ERP system is aligned with your business.
  3. Decision makers often don’t know the full capabilities (or limitations) of their selected ERP system until it is fully implemented.


How can I avoid common pitfalls when implementing a new manufacturing software solution?

  1. Take the time to truly understand your processes. The graphic at the top of this story is a simplified process map illustrating a receiving process from the point when a truck arrives at a plant to just before inspection. CAT Squared uses process mapping to help customers get a visual overview of their processes and understand how data flows across their network.
  2. Optimize your processes before implementation. Business leaders often look to technology to fix process problems. However, they often don’t realize that technology is a tool… not an all-encompassing solution. If a company fails to optimize a process prior to implementing a data-management system, then they face the possibility of aligning their system with a broken process. In this situation, they’ve invested time and resources in performing a broken process more efficiently.Part of CAT Squared’s process mapping methodology includes identifying value drivers within the company’s manufacturing processes to document where processes could be optimized to achieve ROI with a MES / MOM installation. A recent article discusses process mapping in more depth.
  3. Understand the limitations of your ERP system. As technology evolves, ERP systems are becoming more adept at integrating into more processes. However, most ERP vendors have yet to master full integration into a manufacturer’s plant-floor processes. There are many reasons for this. Most ERP vendors work in a wide variety of industries including automotive, mining, food processing, etc. Thus, they become a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Each industry has different processes and uses different equipment. This makes it challenging for any ERP provider to develop a standardized system to run across these varied platforms and integrate into plant-floor equipment so production data can be seamlessly communicated across the enterprise. This is where MOM/MES systems become important.


What’s the difference between MOM and MES?

The terms Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) are often used interchangeably. Often, industries that deal with batch processes, like much of the food industry, tend to use the term MOM, whereas industries that deal with continuous processes tend to use the term MES.


What does a MOM/MES system do?

 Regardless of whether you call it MES or MOM, the primary role of this technology is to manage your plant-floor processes, gather data from the plant floor, and to facilitate communication between your ERP and the plant floor. Using the process map above as an example, the bottom layer represents the physical process occurring in the receiving area. The second layer identifies hardware used to take a measurement or control a process. In this case, the truck drives over a scale to capture the gross weight.

The third layer represents the MES/MOM system. This is where our CAT Squared system would pull the receiving schedule from the ERP to check in the truck, receive the captured weight, and assign a queue number for pre-unload inspection. The data collected from the inspection would be communicated back to the ERP system in the next step of the process, which is not illustrated here.

Many ERP providers say they already have these capabilities, but we’ve had several customers come to us after their ERP provider's integration failed or proved to be too costly. If you are looking for ERP integration into your plant floor, please contact us:

Kathy Barbeire

Written by Kathy Barbeire

Throughout my career, I’ve helped organizations think of creative ways to (1) harness new technology to maximize effectiveness, (2) collect relevant data to measure and improve performance, and (3) use data to tell compelling stories to customers and stakeholders. In 2015, I became CAT Squared’s marketing manager. In this role, I monitor industry trends to (1) ensure our products are flexible enough to adapt to new industry standards and (2) prepare our customers for new technologies with the potential to disrupt the industry. I’ve represented CAT Squared as a participant in a blockchain learning group that has grown out of Blockchain for Arkansas (BC4AR), an initiative launched by Governor Asa Hutchinson to promote capacity building around blockchain technology. As my own knowledge and capacity grow, I develop new content to educate our supply chain partners and help them prepare for the transition ahead. Prior to launching my career, I graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional and technical writing and a double minor in sociology and information technology. I later returned to UALR and completed the MBA program. Before joining CAT Squared, I applied my passion for data-driven storytelling to help nonprofits define their goals, track program metrics, and engage donors and community stakeholders in their missions to fight hunger, poverty, and homelessness, first as a program manager for the Our House Homeless Shelter in Little Rock, and then at The Salvation Army Central Arkansas Area Command.