MES in Pharmaceutical Industries
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to identify advantages, disadvantages and aspects that have to be considered when implementing Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). MES is a rather new software system, which is linking the business systems in companies with the control systems on the factory floor. Today the communications between the different levels are mainly managed manually. Through MES the communication is made electronically in real time, which reduces the administrative work and the risk for mistakes. This study is a qualitative case study. It is based on observations and interviews at Aventis Behring, a pharmaceutical company. Personnel in the Final Packaging Department as well as other linked departments were interviewed to identify the advantages, disadvantages and aspects MES can create. Also theories concerning MES and control were used as a base for the work. Advantages identified with MES were improved regulatory compliance, improved planning, execution and control, safer material flow, improved component location information, knowledge generation, improved customer satisfaction, increased transparency, improved information flow, documentation problem reduction, improved retrieval of historical data, reduced lead-time, reduced cycle time, reduced past due orders, reduced stock levels and work in progress, increased quality, reduced administrative work, better support of company objectives and improved evaluation possibilities. Another advantage the software has is that it consists of several different functions, which enables to build a system that best suits the needs. Disadvantages with the system are the difficulties to identify and to quantify the benefits and costs of the system. The organisation will also have a greater risk exposure and a break down in the system can have devastating consequences because no alternative systems can be used. A successful pilot project would give indications to proceed expanding the system into other organisations. But an unsuccessful project does not necessarily mean that the system should not be expanded. There are many factors that are specific in a pilot project and it might be the case that the system first becomes beneficial in a larger scale. Aspects that has to be considered when implementing MES are for example how to save the generated knowledge, reduce the information overload, interface with other systems, saving the flexibility, react to changes in regulatory compliance and the financing of the system. Pharmaceutical industries are specific for the product value and the high level of regulatory requirements. This makes it more beneficial to implement MES in this industry then others. It is therefore likely to think that similar industries will have the most benefit of MES, but the benefits is shown to be so considerable that the system would be profitable to implement within most sectors.
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