A Practical Approach to Manufacturing Execution Systems at Bosch AvP: Scope, Structure, and Implementation

A Practical Approach to Manufacturing Execution Systems at Bosch AvP: Scope, Structure, and Implementation

Maria João Lopes (Bosch Termotecnologia, Portugal & Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal), Duarte Almeida (Bosch Termotecnologia, Portugal) and Francisco J. A. Cardoso (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4936-9.ch010


With Industry 4.0 related initiatives, a brand new array of opportunities has emerged for organizations to face the ordeals that come with managing ever-growing manufacturing needs. The exponential increase in the complexity of supply chain management has put a real strain on manufacturing operations. In order to succeed, organizations must turn to solutions such as manufacturing execution systems (MES) in order to stay competitive. In this research chapter, we discuss the impact of MES in organizations, whilst describing the process for going from a theoretical concept to a hands-on system which runs the shop floor operations.
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Setting The Stage

Manufacturing today is very different from what it once was. Henry Ford once said that people could have their cars in any color of their choosing, as long as that color was black (Ford, H., & Crowther, S., 1922). – a quote which perfectly resumes the mindset of the 1920s. Then, Henry Ford was a pioneer of industrial management, having successfully implemented the assembly line concept, with a somewhat paradoxical aversion to change. After years of Model T production, he would eventually come around and release the Model A. However, his inertia would cost him the position of leading player of the industry: Ford would then be outrun by Chevrolet and Plymouth (Geldermann, 2017).

This small lesson from history only comes to show that there is only one thing that matters, when it comes to manufacturing: being competitive, i.e., staying ahead of competition – this was exactly what Henry Ford failed to do when it came to the Model A.

However, this is easier said than done, as managing a company is a tremendous challenge. For instance, one of the main problems which organizations struggle with is handling the complexity of their infrastructure. Henry Ford was well aware of this, since he knew that producing two car models would significantly increase the complexity of his organization. In fact, he was so concerned with this that he ended up owning the ore mines, railways and boats that supplied the Ford plant (Geldermann, 2017), all this aiming at keeping the supply chain under control without having to rely on external suppliers.

The ordeals that Henry Ford was facing in the first half of the 20th century to stay competitive are still valid today. Unfortunately, the magnitude of the challenge has increased exponentially: not only do we have to manufacture thousands of different references, but also having to keep track of ever more complex supply chains, in order to comply with the industry’s norms and with the customer’s demands, safety and satisfaction.

The need to handle this increase of complexity in the industrial scope was one of the main driving forces that led to the development and implementation of Industrial Information Systems such as MES: globalization and the general increase of competitiveness have made productivity (both monitoring and improvement) to became a major concern for industrial organizations. Regarding that point, MES have definitely something to add.

One of the gurus of industrial management was, undoubtedly, Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), this being the first to study manual work’s productivity, and how it could be improved (Deci, & Ryan, 1991). Up until his studies, what we now regard as productivity as a whole, was thought of being a quality merely associated with the individual himself: whether he was either hard-working or lazy, or whether his physical shape was adequate or not.

Taylor’s methods were, in fact, extremely simple: he would record the steps it would take to complete the task at hand, whose duration would be duly considered, and superfluous subtasks would be eventually removed. This approach was so effective that manual workers’ productivity started to grow at a rate of 3% annually. This increase in productivity would have a significant impact in economic growth.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Industry 4.0: A strategic initiative started by the German government in order to increase German’s competitiveness in manufacturing over the upcoming years through increased shop floor digitalization.

Key Performance Indicators: A set of numerical values which reflect the performance of a certain aspect of manufacturing operations.

Enterprise Resource Planning: Normally associated with the namesake system, it provides the backbone for running most activities which are not directly related to manufacturing such as finances or human resources.

Manufacturing Execution System: An information system supporting real-time production control, thereby running most manufacturing operations, and storing traceability data.

Traceability: The act of storing process related data for every single product in order to assure legal and safety compliance.

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