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Real-time manufacturing visibility – with a refined Infor LN

Published: · Last updated: · 8 min reading time

Why refine Infor LN with an MES?

ERP systems cover enterprise-wide business processes across different departments, such as purchasing, finance, and sales. They allow efficient control and analysis of business processes at the enterprise level. Depending on the complexity and diversity of the business processes, specialized modules from ERP providers or technical systems are used in the business units linked to the ERP.

Production is often characterized by the diversity and complexity of the processes, as well as special requirements for the usability of the systems. To cover these requirements and to achieve efficient, robust, and sustainable control of production, as well as continuous improvement of processes, so-called Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are used in conjunction with and in addition to the ERP. They link business processes with the technical processes in production. Without MES, the flow of information in production is delayed, decisions can only be made with delay, and the agility and efficiency of production are limited.

This information gap can be eliminated by integrating an MES system and offering companies universal added value. In this article, we will show you how integrating Infor MES powered by FORCAM with your Infor LN can give you real-time manufacturing visibility and enable you to think and map processes end-to-end – adding value for a wide range of stakeholders.

We see the problem – ERP – In the black box

Without the real-time flow of information from manufacturing, a black box is created in production. Several challenges arise from this, which will be examined in more detail.

Delayed Information: After a manufacturing order is published, without using an MES or store floor data collection, no further information is collected until it is completed. The company, employees, and customers receive only information about the production status or delivery date with a delay.

Lack of transparency: If crucial information about the current production status is missing, the perspective to what extent the production plan will be fulfilled, which deviations exist – which could be resolved, e.g., by rescheduling, a possibly significant part of the economic potential of the production is given away. This is particularly relevant in the case of small batch sizes and extensive product portfolios.

Hardly any improvement in the production process: Without transparency of historical and current performance in manufacturing, the relevant potential for revision can only be identified with difficulty, and its success can hardly be measured. The continuous improvement process remains below its potential.

Lack of agility: The processing of the production order runs according to plan to guarantee the delivery date. Unexpected problems and disruptions are not taken into account without MES.

Lack of information: If production process data is not recorded, it is missing to enable better, more selective product traceability. Recalls cannot be isolated, which may result in extremely high costs and effort.

Motivation: Why implement an MES system?

The motivations for integrating Infor LN with Infor MES powered by FORCAM can vary. Central questions that are addressed and solved by FORCAM’s product Infor MES are the following:

  • How reliable is your production planning without current feedback from production?
  • How transparent is your production? How do you identify improvement potential for a targeted continuous improvement process (CIP)?
  • ​How efficient is your production? Have you already exhausted the essential potentials?
  • ​How agile can your production react promptly to machine failures and new/changed customer orders?
  • How sustainable is your production? What is the CO₂ footprint of your production?

Obtaining production transparency in real time

The following steps successfully refine Infor LN by providing real-time manufacturing visibility:

  • Step 1: Capture data from the shop floor.
  • Step 2: Enrichment with a valid manufacturing context generates robust information
  • Step 3: Digital mapping of production processes based on this information generates transparency and knowledge about the state of production
  • Step 4: Data exchange between MES and ERP system enables better decision making from operational to strategic level

Step 1: Acquisition of validated and contextualized data

In the first step, operating and machine data are collected with little effort during operation. INFOR MES powered by FORCAM includes the connection of the machine workstations in every version. The challenge is to connect heterogeneous machine parks, i.e., machines from different manufacturers with different machine controls, in a short time, with reasonable effort, and robustly, without disrupting production.

Step 2: Enrichment with a valid manufacturing context generates robust information

In FORCE MES FLEX (Infor MES powered by FORCAM), validation and contextualization of captured data are already performed at the manufacturing level. When passing through an integrated set of rules, the information to be processed is validated and, depending on the configuration of the respective system, further contextualized (e.g., with order information). The results are current and historical information within a well-structured and easily accessible production model.

Step 3: Digital mapping of production processes based on this information generates transparency and knowledge about the state of production

This production model and the described data streams are the foundation to cover typical MES requirements. Specialized solution modules and applications build on this. Examples include reporting, store floor management with action plans, maintenance, intralogistics, and quality management. Through open and standardized interfaces, the captured information is made available and easily consumed by specialized applications.

Step 4: Data exchange between MES and ERP system enables better decisions on the operational, tactical, and strategic level

INFOR MES powered by FORCAM (MES FLEX) is an open platform solution with MES functionalities. The solution provides other systems with the acquired data from the production through available interfaces of the FORCE Bridge.

  • Quantity reports are fed back to the ERP system
  • Worklist at each plant (select and start production orders)
  • Acquisition of machine data (quantity reports, media consumption)
  • Real-time, current quantities, processing times
  • Action plan and ticket systems

Integration of Infor LN and Infor MES powered by FORCAM

The following graphics show the process of a customer, with a high number of variants, from order to delivery, and how the integration of an MES system changes it.

Generally, the customer receives the order planned in production orders. This process is shown in a higher level of detail below.

In Infor LN are:

  1. The sales orders are recorded.
  2. Configuration and costing for new products.
  3. The disposition for the latest articles is carried out.
  4. The confirmation of the sales order is sent.
  5. Production planning is carried out.
  6. And finally, manufacturing orders were published.

As mentioned earlier, this creates challenges for manufacturing companies. They receive information only late, lack transparency about the manufacturing processes, and lack an objective data basis to improve the production process and agility to react to problems in time and efficiently. In addition, important information for product traceability is not captured.

Integrating an MES system can address and resolve the challenges above.

Once the production orders are released, the MES system takes over the control and monitoring of production. All released production orders are displayed at the correct workstation on the store floor terminal and can be selected, chosen, and started by the employees.

When the production order is started, the ERP system receives real-time information on the current production status and all machine data, e.g., quantities, times, semi-finished goods, and component consumption.

This includes the following messages:

  1. Work cycle start (setup times)
  2. Operation interrupted (feedback of times and quantities)
  3. Load carrier full (feedback of times and amounts)
  4. AG finished (employee times, machine times, portions of raw material, and semi-finished goods)

The graphic above summarizes the process from order to delivery. This again shows that central information about the manufacturing process can be collected, which would be lost without MES integration. The benefits of integration are discussed in more detail below.

Benefits of integrating an MES system

By integrating Infor LN with Infor MES powered by FORCAM, Infor LN can be refined, and the following added values can be realized:

More capacity, revenue, profit, sustainability: better utilization of low manufacturing capacity opens up additional capacity without further investment in machinery, equipment and buildings. Paperless manufacturing allows for higher agility and increases sustainability

More customer focus: planning and reprioritization based on actual data

Granular manufacturing visibility: Broad and robust machine connectivity provides the necessary database

Lower process costs: Reduction in lead times associated with process costs

Shorter response times: Real-time information on order status and production status

Lower CO₂ footprint via energy and media consumption.


Using an MES system gives you real-time manufacturing visibility and the ability to think processes end-to-end. You get information end-to-end from the sales order to the completion of the production order. Data collection starts directly at the machine and allows the recording of process parameters for use cases such as traceability. The MES system creates the necessary transparency,

  • to significantly shorten lead times,
  • improve quality
  • and increase the profitability of the company.

It closes the information gap between the ERP system and the machine, allowing you to benefit from reliable control and monitoring of your production.