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Everybody is talking about Industrie 4.0, and yet, at the start of this position paper, it appears necessary to lay out the key aspects regarding the position and role of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) in an Industrie 4.0 context. The German standardisation roadmap for “Indstrie 4.0” describes the underlying goal of Industrie 4.0 as being “to render the advances already made in information and communication technologies, and those expected in the foreseeable future, utilizable for production companies”.
From a business perspective, this is a “new stage in the organization and control of the entire value stream along the lifecycle of a product”. A technical requirement for reaching this stage is specified as the “availability of all relevant information in real-time through the networking of all instances involved in value creation” as well as the “ability to derive the best possible value stream from data at all times”. A key factor here is the “connection of people, objects and systems” to form “cross-organizational value networks”.
Unfortunately, Industrie 4.0 is often reduced to the vividly descriptive example of the “digital factory”, and the self-organisation of production and communication between the workpiece and machine are highlighted as the supposed core of Indutrie 4.0. In this connection, a frequent question is then what the role of MES is in this oft-cited selforganisation.
Does this make MES superfluous? Or is MES in fact a key element for attaining this new stage in the organization and control of the value stream? And, if so, how does MES need to change in order to fulfil this role? The ZVEI MES working group has addressed these questions and will now present in this paper the positions established as well as questions that arose.