A manufacturing execution system is a digitized solution. It comprises software and hardware components that enable full visibility and control of production processes.

The MES layer connects the business planning and operations control layers. The baseline functionality of a manufacturing execution system offers the opportunity to:

  • check operation/job statuses
  • check machine status
  • issue work orders 
  • create manufacturing plans
  • track work-in-progress
  • update instructions

MES in production

The functionality of an MES can be extended by connecting external modules for analyzing data, making reports, developing forecasts, etc.

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The MES architecture comprises hardware and software components united into one system for monitoring and controlling manufacturing processes.

MES components

Hardware Components

The core hardware components that help interconnect production line machines and integrate them into an MES are as follows.

  1. Servers and databases. On-premise or cloud-based servers host manufacturing execution software. Databases store the manufacturing data collected from machines.
  2. Sensors and actuators. Gather information about crucial parameters like temperature, weight, speed, etc. Actuators perform machinery production processes.
  3. Barcode scanners and RFID readers. Automatically collect data from scanned codes and tags to monitor inventory in real time.
  4. Programmable logic controllers. Collect data and issue commands serving as a communication link between MES and shop floor machines.
  5. Human-machine interface (HMI) devices. Touch screens and control panels used by staff to operate production machines.
  6. Networking hardware. Routers, switches, wires, hotspots, and other devices create a local network and connect all the components.
  7. Desktops and mobile devices. Equipment that is used for accessing collected data and using MES software.

Software Components

The core software components help enable the functionality of the manufacturing execution system.

  1. MES software. Performs the manufacturing processes and operations management.
  2. MES modules. Software components that enable additional functionality. The most popular modules are analysis, reporting, quality management, maintenance, etc.
  3. Database management system. Stores data retrieved from production floor machines. 
  4. Third-party integration tools. Additional software from third-party vendors that are connected via APIs.
  5. User interface. The visual representation of MES software features tailored to the specific needs of users.
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The hardware and software components of a manufacturing execution system can be combined in different ways to achieve the maximum output. The most popular MES system architectures are listed below.


The manufacturing execution software is developed as a single component comprising all the required features. It is perfectly tailored to the needs of a specific production.

monolithic MES architecture

However, due to the monolithic approach, scaling up the existing monolith application and implementing new features upon demand may be challenging.


The modular MES architecture comprises diverse components interconnected into a single system. Each component of the system may use software from different vendors and can be developed using diverse technologies.

modular MES architecture

The module-based architecture enables top customization opportunities. The functionality of a MES can be enhanced by connecting additional modules, including the following:

  • scheduling 
  • work-in-progress tracking
  • quality management
  • business intelligence
  • machine maintenance


The manufacturing software is hosted on remote servers that a third-party vendor manages. Cloud servers enable the opportunity to seamlessly scale up storage capacity and computing power upon a need. The software installed on a remote server can only be accessed via the Internet.


The hybrid MES architecture incorporates software components installed on cloud and local-based servers. It enables the opportunity to achieve the benefits of cloud-based infrastructure. Furthermore, this architecture of a manufacturing execution system helps maintain top system resilience and offline accessibility of its core components.


The implementation of edge computing in an MES system architecture helps decrease the amount of data to be processed by the main server and transferred over a network. Edge nodes are small data processing units installed close to the manufacturing floor machines.

Edge-based MES architecture

They collect and pre-process data. Hence, only summarized or critical information is transferred to the main server. Also, edge nodes can transform and validate collected data. 


As per the ISA-95 framework, the MES architecture is a part of Level 3 (MES) of the industrial automation pyramid. It connects the machine control and business logic layers.

automation pyramid levels

Level 0 (Production process) describes the overall manufacturing processes, materials, equipment, etc.

Levels 1,2 (Sensing, monitoring, and control) are represented by:

  • programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • sensors (scales, optic readers, scanners, thermometers, etc.)
  • actuators and automatic guided vehicles (AGVs)
  • transmitters and network devices
  • human-machine interface (HMI) devices

The devices help enable real-time manufacturing control and monitoring. 

Level 3 (Manufacturing operations management) is represented by MES software. It helps coordinate and control manufacturing processes using a centralized system.

Level 4 (Business planning and logistics) is represented by enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It helps ensure that production operations are perfectly aligned with business goals.

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The implementation of a manufacturing execution system enables process optimization and digitized manufacturing. The five core benefits of MES software integration are as follows.

MES benefits

Workflow Automation and Digitalization

Integrated MES solutions help automate processes and make them paperless. Programmable logic controllers can be fully and autonomously managed by MES software. It can collect sensor data and issue commands to PLCs based on pre-developed algorithms. 

Developing custom user agents helps create custom rules to automate manufacturing processes fully. All the data can also be processed automatically and presented as custom reports.

Real-Time Visibility and Control

Data-sharing pipelines in a MES architecture enable real-time data collection and command issuing. Hence, responsible managers can monitor and control in-progress processes with minimal delay. It can range from 10ms to several seconds, depending on the implemented MES system architecture and process optimization. 

Increased Performance

Adopting smart manufacturing and shop floor management helps reduce the manual input required to run processes. Moreover, automated data processing and input help reduce the number of errors and lower the administrative burden on the labor force.

Detailed Analytics

Business intelligence (BI) modules in a MES architecture help analyze, summarize, and visualize collected data. Also, BI solutions can automatically generate custom reports.

Advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) can turn large raw data sets into valuable insights and forecast changes.

Standardization and Flexibility

Data mapping and standardization are a crucial part of a robust MES architecture. It enables the opportunity to build cross-system pipelines and integrate third-party solutions. Hence, stakeholders can rapidly enhance or adjust the functionality of existing systems.


The MES system architecture design and implementation require a business to clearly understand the following.

MES implementation considerations

As-Is Architecture

Examine the existing design of the manufacturing environment. The as-is design helps outline the existing hardware and software solutions used for monitoring and managing production processes. Define technical boundaries to consider when designing a MES architecture.

Bottlenecks and Challenges

Identify the bottlenecks in existing processes and workflows that should be optimized. List all the challenges and boundaries that hold you back from implementing innovative solutions.

Business Objectives

Define and prioritize business goals to achieve. All the objectives should be described in detail. The MES architecture implementation outcomes should be defined considering the realistic budget and business capabilities. Also, it's recommended to set clear “definition of done” characteristics for each business objective.

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As per statistics, the global manufacturing execution system market is expected to reach $42.2 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 13.1%. 

The other key statistics that highlight the high-paced growth of manufacturing execution system adoption are:

  • Over 80% of manufacturing businesses use MES
  • MES usage helps reduce the manufacturing time by 45% or more
  • Manufacturers report that MES helps decrease paperwork by 50%
  • 60% of businesses state that MES usage is a crucial component of success
  • MES implication helps reduce the machine downtime by 15%

The future trends that shape the manufacturing execution system market are as follows.

  • Cloud-based infrastructure. The usage of remote servers that a third-party vendor manages. 
  • IIoT integration. Smart devices that are interconnected by one network. The industrial Internet of Things, as a part of the MES system architecture, helps monitor and remote manufacturing workflows remotely.
  • Edge computing. Dedicated computing nodes help pre-process data collected from PLCs. Edge nodes help decrease the amount of data transferred over a network.
  • Artificial intelligence. AI algorithms help analyze large amounts of data and detect hidden patterns. Also, using AI helps enable computer vision and predictive machine maintenance.
  • Modular design. The integration of third-party services helps enrich the functionality of manufacturing execution systems. Modular-based SAP MES architecture combines solutions built using diverse technologies.


Our team has developed and implemented many successful solutions for monitoring and controlling manufacturing processes.

MES development by CodeIT

The machine uptime monitoring software is one of the completed projects. Let's check the business problems and solutions delivered by the CodeIT team.


The client is a manufacturer that experienced a lack of work-in-progress control and monitoring. The CodeIT team was tasked with developing a new software solution that enables the opportunity to: 

  • monitor work-in-progress
  • analyze manufacturing data
  • create charts and custom reports
  • present real-time data on a dashboard
  • manage user roles and permissions


The business analysis expert has examined business goals and prepared a detailed software development plan. It included user stories, definition of done, KPIs, etc.

The team of front-end and back-end developers have designed the MES architecture and implemented all the features, following the prepared plan. 

The software and dashboard can be accessed via the Internet from any location.

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The MES architecture combines hardware and software components to monitor and control production machines. It connects sensors and PLCs, offering the opportunity to manage production processes effectively and check work-in-progress data in real time.

The key components of an MES architecture are as follows.

Software Components Hardware Components
Servers and databases MES software
Sensors and actuators MES modules
Barcode scanners and RFID readers Database management system
Programmable logic controllers Third-party integration tools
Human-machine interface (HMI) devices User interface
Networking hardware
Desktops and mobile devices
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What is the architecture of the MES system?

The MES architecture is a combination of software and hardware components that form a unified system. All the elements are arranged in a certain order to enable the required functionality and workflow visibility.

What is the MES system?

It provides instant access to manufacturing data and provides the opportunity to issue commands in real time. The MES system is the integration layer between programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

What are the key components of MES architecture?

The core hardware components of a MES architecture are:

  • servers and databases
  • sensors and actuators
  • barcode scanners and RFID readers
  • programmable logic controllers
  • human-machine interface (HMI) devices
  • networking hardware
  • desktops and mobile devices

The software components of a manufacturing execution system (MES) include the following:

  • MES software
  • MES modules
  • database management system
  • third-party integration tools
  • user interface

What are the different types of MES architectures?

The five most widely used types of MES architecture are:

  1. Monolithic
  2. Module-based
  3. Cloud-based
  4. Hybrid
  5. Edge-based
How can a well-designed MES system improve production efficiency?

According to statistics, a well-designed MES architecture enables reducing production time by 45% or more. Furthermore, it helps decrease the paperwork by 50%.

What role does MES architecture play in achieving Industry 4.0 goals?

The three main Industry 4.0 goals are:

  1. increased automation and flexibility
  2. real-time workflow visibility
  3. advanced analytics

Implementing a MES architecture helps achieve these goals by enabling automation and complete visibility. Also, it helps turn large amounts of raw data into valuable insights. Integrated solutions enable real-time data sharing by using cross-platform pipelines.

What trends can we expect in MES architecture?

The key future trends in the MES market are:

  • cloud-based infrastructure
  • IIoT integration
  • edge computing
  • artificial intelligence
  • modular design

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