Implementation of MES in an Apparel Manufacturing Plant

In the previous article it was discussed about the need for having a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and why is it needed to be integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to have complete control and insight over the business. In this article, we are going to know about how the MES system can be integrated into an apparel production process to monitor all the level of the production process.

MES is an electronic system that helps manufacturers become paperless. MES is a much more efficient system which is ere proof and collects data in a much more efficient way. It monitors the entire manufacture process of the industry from raw material to the finished product. MES allows management to see what is actually happening and allows them to make the decision based on that information. As discussed in the previous article its advantages are immense with improved process flow visibility, minimization of the manual data entry process, processing based on those data, adjusting raw material order or shipments based on real data received from the system etc.


The above cycle is the most basic flow of any manufacturing process and this is the basic manufacturing flow on which MES systems are based upon.

MES System components and infrastructure

The way it functions is that there is a server having a database of all the data collected by the software. The database is going to have connectivity out the line with tools such as the Internet of Things (IoT). There’s going to be usually some kind of MES terminal along the line where the operators can interface with the system. There’s probably other things tied into the MES system like automation, bar code scanners, sensors, and printers. This becomes the basic requirement for an MES system to work upon.

Think of a manufacturing system like a sewing line system for a basic shirt.

There is a start where the basic cut components are being prepared for assembling into other components. Along the assembly line components like sleeve, collar, yolk etc. are also being attached to the front and the back from a feeder line. Then down the sewing line, there is the quality inspection department followed by finishing, packing and finally, the shirt goes out for shipping or distribution.

Starting from the planning flow think about is a schedule like if there are multiple styles to be sewn with different quantities. The operator at the beginning of the line is going to look at the schedule and know what to do with those styles on the line and they start out with some bar code labelling or printing going on. This becomes the MES terminal over that point providing information about the starting of the production.

Then we go to the assembly area and this is when we start getting into the execution flow where for each stage of the production some kind of terminal is there which will provide with the status within the sewing line. It can also be used to keep track of whether the component gets attached to the intended style from the feeder lines which are checked okay and is the validated component of that particular style. Validation of the feeder line being also integrated into the MES system.

The execution system of an MES system is going to keep a tab of the process and make sure that it is okay and collect the data back to the monitoring phase to make sure that those parts went into that style tracing the entire path of the component.

After this comes to the inspection, where the MES system will have its inspection terminal. The terminal will contain its inspection criteria which will be checked for a shirt to pass, like once the shirt is made these are the testing specification that it needs to have to be of any required quality. The data can then be forwarded to the database for the monitoring phase which can help in calculating the frequency of any defect and theoretically predicting any defect since the entire path of any defective garment can be traced.

After inspection, the shirt goes for packing and finally dispatched for shipping. During this shipping phase, the final information gets fed back to the MES system through end terminals like barcode readers, scanners providing data of the final stage of any order.

The compiled data of the MES system ultimately back to the ERP system to keep track of the inventory, quality, production, etc. and it all becomes a part of the monitoring phase of what an MES system does.

This can be a flow chart of how an MES system can be implemented into an apparel industry providing data to an ERP system creating transparent monitoring off all the level of business from sourcing to manufacturing to financing etc.

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha holds a Master's Degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, New Delhi. He is also a graduate in apparel production. His area of interest includes Quality Assurance and technology implementations in Apparel Production.

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