How data historians and MES synergise to optimise operations

Jeroen Coussement on

How can an open data historian and an MES reinforce each other to optimise manufacturing operations and enhance plant efficiency? Three examples of the synergy between Factry Historian and FactryOS, including a real-life use case.

Synergy between MES and Data Historian

The open data historian and the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) are undeniably among the most essential tools for achieving operational excellence in manufacturing. For many businesses, an open historian is all they need. It centralises, visualises and integrates endless data sources in a single platform, and delivers actionable visual insights to improve operations. It can also feed BI tools with contextualised process data, by aggregating data in the context of events such as batches, or shifts.

But some manufacturing operations demand more…

“Let’s say you’re running an ice cream factory with lots of recipes or a weavery with a highly variable product range”, marks Factry COO Yves Bourgeois. “Then you’ll also need a way to effectively manage orders and production changes, streamline quality across runs and batches, optimise inventory and WIP levels, optimise resource allocation, or provide employees with a comprehensive oversight of production progress to ensure operations run smoothly. That’s where an MES comes in.”

Does every historian need an MES?

No. “In many cases, a historian is used as a standalone platform to collect, centralise, and integrate process data in a single interface, and make it readily available for visual analysis and reporting”, explains Factry Historian product owner David Dierickx. “If your company doesn’t need specific MES functionalities like operator checklists, or management of orders, inventory, or quality, a historian with strong dashboarding capabilities can deliver the data insights you need to improve any aspect of your operations.”

Factry COO Yves Bourgeois

Apart from serving as a standalone, integrated data platform, a historian is crucial for supplying high-resolution, contextualised data to an MES. So every MES needs a historian, but historians are quite happy by themselves.

Yves Bourgeois
COO at Factry

Does every MES need a historian?

In theory, no, but integrating an MES with a data historian will radically enhance the system’s capabilities. “The historian records granular details on key metrics and KPIs, such as machine efficiency, cycle times, and productivity”, says David. “Meanwhile, the MES leverages this data to better manage and contextualise information within operational workflows, enriching its functionality. As such, a powerful synergy emerges that enhances decision-making on all levels”.

Factry Historian Product Owner David Dierickx

While Factry Historian is a standalone platform for collecting, visualising and integrating production data, it is also crucial to supply high-resolution data to an MES. It simply doesn't make sense to go without one.

David Dierickx
Factry Historian Product Owner

Three ways MES and historian pair perfectly

While not every data historian requires an MES, every MES needs a historian to reach its full potential. These three examples illustrate why they make a great synergy:

1. Ensuring regulatory compliance

Both historians and MES systems play critical roles in ensuring regulatory compliance and generating regulatory reports. The historian maintains a comprehensive record of all production data, while the MES manages documentation, records, and workflows to meet regulatory requirements. In case of an audit or a client complaint, quality and process data from specific orders can be retrieved in a matter of seconds.

2. Performing OEE calculations

Combining the power of an open data historian with that of an MES allows for more accurate OEE calculations. The reason is simple: the historian systematically captures extensive data on KPIs such as machine performance, cycle times, and yield, while the MES enriches the aggregated data by adding context, such as downtime causes, performance losses, and waste inputs from the production line in the context of a specific shift, running order or article. This results in more precise tracking of availability, quality, and performance KPIs, leading to an even more reliable OEE calculation.

3. Deeper business analysis

Historian-MES integration greatly enhances business analysis in BI tools by providing a richer, more comprehensive dataset. While the historian captures time-stamped data on processes and events such as downtime and batches, the MES enriches these entries by connecting them with real-time metrics such as output rates and quality levels. Combined, they offer an in-depth and contextual view of production operations, allowing BI tools to perform deeper analyses, identify trends, and generate actionable insights to drive strategic decisions.

MES + Historian synergy: a real-world example

Helioscreen, a manufacturer of fiberglass sun protection fabrics, and part of Dutch multinational Hunter Douglas, leverages both Factry Historian and FactryOS to optimise its manufacturing operations. Factry Historian collects data from machines, systems, and processes, while FactryOS manages and controls manufacturing operations, creating a powerful synergy between them.

Adding context to raw data

FactryOS enriches the production data collected by Factry Historian by adding a layer of context. Operators are provided with an interface displaying structured information such as downtime reasons, performance loss reasons, and recorded waste. The enriched data is sent back to Factry Historian, enabling accurate OEE calculations within the event engine. Operators can input current data or update previous downtime events, ensuring precise recalculations and continuous improvement.

“Operators are provided with an interface displaying structured information such as downtime reasons, performance loss reasons, and recorded waste. The enriched data is sent back to Factry Historian, enabling accurate OEE calculations within the event engine.”

Integration with other tools

Helioscreen has also integrated FactryOS with its BI tool for streamlined business analysis. Business reports, based on FactryOS data, include links allowing users to drill down from global reports to production data of specific orders or batches straight in the Grafana visualisation interface.

By integrating FactryOS with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) the company can now easily produce reports that show the performance of each shift, including the orders processed, the amount of waste generated per order, and the downtime experienced – categorised with essential contextual process data.

A link to a Grafana dashboard in the MES allows users to jump from order start and stop times to aggregated process data in Factry Historian, and drill down on it.

Yves Bourgeois
COO at Factry

Considering moving from paper to glass?

In the past 8 years developing industrial software, we’ve seen many businesses hampered by the restraints and complexity of legacy production tools and manual production processes, resulting in excessive waste, unplanned downtime, and efficiency and productivity losses. Rings a bell? With Factry Historian integrated with FactryOS, or as a standalone solution, we also helped them transition seamlessly to a digital plant, enhancing their productivity.

Read our use-cases

Discover the real-life impact of Factry's IIoT solutions.

Stay in the loop of new product updates

With Factry Historian v7.0, we’re soon launching a series of new features and significant usability improvements. The FactryOS roadmap holds exciting stuff as well, including flexible production sequencing through Kanban principles, templating, an integrated communication tool, and advancements for the Operator Checklist module.

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