Manufacturing Execution System Research project develops MES system of the future

Editor: Alexander Stark

Germany — In a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), ATS Elektronik, the Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Machine Tools at Leibniz University in Hanover and Fauser are developing new functions for the Manufacturing Execution System of the future. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

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MES of the future: This information density is what medium-sized manufacturing companies want.
MES of the future: This information density is what medium-sized manufacturing companies want.
(Source: Fauser)

The project partners have been working since October 2019 on Lokofer, a localization and communication system for production planning and control for metalworking companies. Bluetooth-based transmitters (Beacons) will enable material location and manufacturing communication between MES and workstations via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE, Bluetooth 5). The beacons are described with necessary manufacturing information at the start of the job and then accompany material or semi-finished products on their way through manufacturing. At each machine, the beacon is placed on an NFC write reader at the start of setup. An employee calls up the production documents such as the setup list, work plan, technical drawing, machine program or tool list via the beacon. At the same time, time measurement begins, which is interrupted or terminated by removing the beacon. The current information on location and processing times is stored on the beacon together with the machine status and sent to the MES via the new Bluetooth standard 5.

Medium-sized manufacturing companies thus gain success-determining advantages such as flexibility, speed, information security and efficiency. The effort and error-proneness of machine and production data acquisition is drastically reduced. Thanks to a tracking system, employees always know where and in what condition the material, semi-finished product or finished product is.

At the Fauser MES, reported machine states are synchronized with time measurement. This provides precise information on how long the machine has been producing, how long it has been set up or how long it has been serviced. From the motion data of the tracking system, the time measurement and the machine data, the total throughput time as well as machining, setup, idle and transport times are determined for each order. The link to the Fauser ERP creates an operational cost calculation for individual components or entire orders based on stored cost rates. Flashing LEDs and an integrated display on a beacon signal necessary changes, adjustments or new instructions for the employee.

With the Lokofer project, the partners are making an important contribution to the MES of the future and to Industry 4.0 in medium-sized companies. Thanks to the practical orientation of the research project, the results can soon be incorporated into everyday operations.