User Friendly

A good MES (Manufacturing Execution System) software is a user friendly one where manager can easily and quickly find the information that they are looking for. Also, it should be very easy to use at the shop floor or the operators will not use it live and it means the system will not serve its main purpose of live manufacturing data tracking.

It should also be reliable and run on reliable hardware and network. Accessibility is also very important. If you have a manufacturing plant with many equipment and only a few shop tracking software licenses, then the operator must travel a long distance to move a work order forward. Something that will not have happen and you will not have the data required to quickly fix the possible delays in your planned schedule.

Access Control

Like any other system, MES software should have different layers of access where users can see and manipulate only the data that they are required to see or handle. Everything else should be out of scope. In an ideal situation such access control is dynamically created and handled by one or multiple top-level admin users. Defining and creating such users and groups usually happens during the installation and implementation of the manufacturing tracking software.

Access Control

Quick Search

Quick search and comprehensive search per screen also helps a production shop software to be much more usable and practical. Depending on the type of shop control software to use, system should be able to search each module quickly with ease of access.

A quick search bar on Azarbod Shop Control Software is displayed in the following picture. Because Azarbod Manufacturing Execution Software handles almost all aspects of a manufacturing facility, the quick search bar also searches different modules like work orders, customers and incoming and outgoing email.

Quick Search

Multiple Devices

Software today, is more mobile that any time in the past. With the invention and popularity of mobile and other touch screen devices, manufacturers expect to use them to track their shop and collect live manufacturing data from shop floor as they happen. In general, the time has passed for the shop and production data tracking software to be installed on a desktop far from all equipment and the operator moving there each time to enter data.

In today manufacturing, either the manufacturing data management software is directly connected to the equipment and reads live data from the machine or the operator manually enters the data on touch screen device attached to the equipment. A sample such screen on Azarbod Manufacturing Execution Software (MES) is shown below. As you see, the big icons allow operator to easily enter live data as it goes.

Multiple Devices

Barcode Enabled

Barcoding is an essential part of any shop floor management software. It is a fast industry and system should be well protected from operator mistake and barcodes very well achieve this.

Barcoding can be used in many different situations like

  • Employee logging in and out of a manufacturing or production order
  • Operator picking and item from the warehouse for shipping
  • Warehouse manager doing periodic cycle count on the warehouse
  • Managers trying to find where this production order is
  • So on…

Sometimes a hand-held scanner attached to a tablet device is good enough to track and collect manufacturing shop data and sometimes a mobile wireless device can better work, say in the case of picking items when shipping to customer. Mobile scanners are usually more expensive and you need a reliable wireless network in order to use them. However, the price can be justified in terms of functionality and ease of use.

Accountability & Log Trail

Accountability is essential in job tracking software. It means that system should track what data has been changed, when and by who. System should also log all such changes and if needed, end user should be able to go back and track the history of changes and the person who did that.

This is very important feature to prevent from inputting wrong or malicious data and to make sure there is a way back in case data needs to be partly reversed. This reversing of data is different from regular data backup that is performed at the database level and can not support partial reverses.

Log trail is also important for some of the documents, specially if the manufacturing facility bear an ISO standard which required version control on various documents and records.

Integration and Customization

At the end, whenever you buy any piece of software and specially a complicated one like Manufacturing Data Collection Software, you need to ability to customize it per your need. The reason is simple. Despite general similarities, every business is unique.

Also, not many manufacturing facilities can rely on one piece of software only. That is why system should be customized, integrated and be integration-ready. Integration-ready means that other systems should be able to connect to it and obtain the data that they need.

Integration ready happens in two ways:

  • Through API. This means that the shop floor management software will provide its internal data to the outside world via some Application Programming Interfaces that other programs can call. In this case, the outside programs do not need to know about the internal structure of our shop data tracking software
  • Via SQL Database. In such cases, the outside program will connect directly to the SQL data storage of the manufacturing data system and reads or sometimes writes the required information. In such cases, the shop control software needs to reveal and document its internal data structure to the outside world. This method can be risky with many trial and error and should be thoroughly tested before deployment.