Understanding The Difference Between ERP and MES Software

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Understanding The Difference Between ERP and MES Software

Two operators at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility using InstantGMP PRO’s MES software to ensure accuracy during the production process.

When searching for software solutions for manufacturing facilities, two acronyms often appear automatically: ERP and MES.

While there is a lot of information online about these two software systems, many of the articles consider these two solutions interchangeable. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

Though they may have similarities, MES and ERP systems are unique pieces of software that have very distinct purposes. 

To give you more insight, this article will define these two software systems, highlight their key benefits, point out their differences, and explain why we believe MES systems have the advantage of ERPs when it comes to improving the productivity of quality and compliant items.   

What is ERP Software? 

Used for a variety of businesses, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software helps manage a host of vital everyday activities ranging from accounting and supply chain management to human resources and customer relationship management. 

While many manufacturing companies have individual software systems that help them manage and organize these everyday duties, relying on these multiple pieces of software is problematic. 

The first drawback is that these various pieces are often not designed to work together. The ability to integrate with other systems, such as an existing customer relationship management (CRM) system, is not part of their overall design. To create reports, data needs to be pulled from multiple software systems and then analyzed, measured and compared. Afterwards, all of the pertinent information needs to be manually compiled into one report. 

The second is that each piece of software has its own specific function. If a manufacturer needs to check the inventory levels of certain materials they need to rely on the software system that manages inventory. On the other hand, if they want to see what the cost of that material was a year ago, they’ll need to access a different software system that provides financial information. 

With a full ERP system, manufacturers can access all of this information and perform all of these duties from one piece of software.

Since all of the various management systems are integrated, operators can run comprehensive reports for certain periods of time, check inventory levels, access financial information, and more –  all from one software system. 

What is MES Software? 

Manufacturing execution system (MES) software provides manufacturing facilities greater control of their manufacturing processes to ensure product quality, consistency and compliance. 

Unlike a paper-based system or individual pieces of software, MES software allows manufacturers to efficiently and effectively monitor workflows to ensure that every step is performed, track raw materials for greater transparency, manage all necessary documentation, and establish processes that deliver high-quality products that meet all FDA and GMP requirements. 

From this single cloud-based system, manufacturing facilities benefit from improved processes, inventory, equipment and documentation management, and more. The result: 

How Does ERP Software Benefit Manufacturing? 

After reviewing the definitions of ERP and MES software above, it’s plain to see that each system offers an array of benefits for manufacturing facilities. 

Yet, while these two systems share some similarities, they each have their own unique benefits. 

While MES systems are focused on managing manufacturing processes and operations in real time for greater product consistency and compliance, ERP software is focused on managing scheduling and providing quantitative analysis over a period of time. 

To help manufacturers improve their operations scheduling and evaluations, manufacturing ERP software provides certain capabilities that are not offered by MES software, including: 

  • Financial Management System – Rather than relying on multiple spreadsheets or several pieces of software, an ERP allows manufacturers to easily manage their accounts payable and receivable, payments, collections and other pertinent information. 
  • Order/Demand Management System – Accurate ordering, tracking and fulfillment is vital to the success of any manufacturing facility. This built-in system easily allows manufacturers to purchase raw materials, monitor the consumption of these for efficient reorders, and track the finished product through final delivery. Additionally, this system helps manufacturers better manage their inventory, provides greater visibility to deal with supply chain issues, and identifies the best time to manufacture and ship new products. 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – By integrating with a manufacturer’s existing CRM application, an ERP provides manufacturers with a single database that contains all financial, operational and customer information. With these CRM capabilities, manufacturers can manage their customer portals, lead generation and marketing analysis, and more from the ERP. 
  • Human Resources Management – Manufacturing companies can use this ERP module to automate their various human resource functions, such as hiring, onboarding, payroll, benefits, paid time off (PTO), and more. 

By investing in an ERP, manufacturing companies can improve their planning, purchasing, and resource/customer management efforts. Plus, the ERP’s reporting capabilities allow manufacturers to better measure and analyze their key performance indicators (KPIs) to make more informed business decisions.

Why Is MES Software Preferable To ERP Software? 

While ERPs are ideal for managing manufacturers’ financial information, they are not designed to ensure consistency and compliance for all processes and finished products.

To accomplish these goals, MES software: 

  • Prompts operators to follow all necessary steps according to the batch production record to maintain product consistency.
  • Provides real-time monitoring and reporting during the manufacturing process so manufacturers can make changes and adjustments on the fly. 
  • Supports greater traceability of all raw materials and equipment used during production.

MES software not only uses these and other features to safeguard processes and ensure compliance with FDA regulations and GMP requirements, it also helps improve productivity, maximize efficiencies, and identify areas where expenses can be reduced. In this way, MES software contributes to the facilities’ financial health much like an ERP. 

InstantGMP PRO Elevates MES Software To The Next Level

As you can see, MES software offers manufacturers’ more advantages than ERP software.

Still, many MES systems lack certain capabilities that ensure the overall quality of the manufacturing process and finished products.

Recognizing these limitations led to the creation of the only all-in-one manufacturing and quality system: InstantGMP™ PRO.

By combining an MES with a Quality Management System (QMS), this innovative software allows pharma, dietary supplement and biotech manufacturers to enjoy the following benefits from one cloud-based system:

  • Electronic Batch Records (EBR) – This module simplifies the development-to-production processes for Master Production Records (MPR) and Batch Production Records (BPR). The EBR feature lets operators on the floor access, view, track and update the project synopsis, materials information, documents, testing process results, and manufacturing instructions for specific MPRs or BPRs. With this feature, facilities’ enjoy greater quality control, improved workflows, and increased product safety.
  • Quality Management System (QMS) – A multifunctional module that supports the quality assurance activities and control documentation that’s required for deviation tracking, root cause identification, and investigations. The software’s built-in QMS increases quality assurance, reduces error and maintains full compliance with all GMP regulations. 
  • Inventory Management System (IMS) The IMS lets facilities easily trace, monitor and record every part of the inventory process. By performing these actions, manufacturers establish accuracy, quality, profitability and compliance throughout the entire process . This feature also supplies inventory and production process personnel with real-time inventory data for exact material traceability and production control. 
  • Document Management System (DMS) Designed to replace the need for paper-based systems, this module stores, organizes and secures every piece of documentation, including files, MPRs, BPRs, and videos associated with production processes. Designed to link documents across the various production processes, the DMS allows operators to quickly locate documents to review, approve or update them. 
  • Learning Management System (LMS) The LMS improves facility training and onboarding programs by assigning specific coursework (training videos, quizzes and tests) to individual employees. Additionally, the LMS uploads all test results and certifications to the respective employee files. 
  • Room Log – Using this handy feature, operators can schedule and monitor activities (such as production, cleaning, maintenance or inspection) performed in the facility’s specific rooms. Operators can also use this feature to create reminders for activities, generate alerts for overdue tasks, and automatically update usage logs for accurate documentation.
  • Equipment Log – With this log, facilities can locate and assess the current status of every piece of manufacturing equipment used and stored in the building. This log also attaches user manuals and warranty information to each item via the Document Management System. Plus, it includes an Equipment Scheduler operators can use to arrange all necessary maintenance.

As InstantGMP™ PRO is an all-in-one MES and QMS software solution, facilities do not have to worry about purchasing individual pieces of software that may not be compatible with each other. 

Choose The MES Software That Provides More Solutions 

Manufacturing ERP software may provide the financial system that many companies need, they only provide a fraction of the process, productivity and compliance solutions that pharma, dietary supplement and biotech manufacturers need. Also, ERP reporting capabilities are better suited for providing data by year, month, weeks, days or hours. 

MES software, especially one that also includes a complete QMS, is more advantageous for manufacturers as it provides a variety of real-time solutions not offered by ERPs – and most MES Software. 

With InstantGMP PRO software, manufacturers can

Unlike many ERP and MES systems, InstantGMP PRO software is affordably priced for start-ups and small and mid-size manufacturing companies. 

To schedule a demonstration of our combination MES and QMS software solution, please contact our team today!