ERP vs MES : which one provides a fastest ROI?

ERPs, or Enterprise Resource Planning systems, are known for being heavy and sometimes painful to implement. Here’s why an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) may be a very interesting approach to consider.


At small to medium-sized cabinet factories, managers are hearing a steady drumbeat of information about Industry 4.0 and, and the need to adopt an ERP as an important step in automating a plant.

Because it touches every department – from sales, to accounting, to purchasing and delivery, deploying an ERP can be complicated and time-consuming. ERPs are a good long term goal, but experience in the field suggests during the adoption phase, operations can actually slow down. And ERPs do not always directly address a key challenge for shop managers: production bottlenecks.

Managers should consider an MES – a Manufacturing Execution System – that is a far simpler and more agile solution that is a good first step to the longer-term goal of adopting an ERP. An MES links the individual automated machines and production cells in a plant, tracking production status in real time, and in automated versions, providing instantaneous direction to production personnel on everything from assembly steps to locating missing parts.

For many cabinet shops, the MES is a better first step in plant automation. It functions as the “missing link” between the individual work cells – both automated technology like CNCs, and manual centers like assembly. An MES tracks all the steps in individual orders as they move through work stations, queuing up all the necessary materials and components until a kitchen cabinet order is completed. While an ERP is designed to control an entire business operation (sales process, customer orders, accounting, manufacturing, even delivery and installation) and MES simply keeps the work moving – which is really the most important thing managers want.

Often the impetus for looking at an ERP is to integrate the people and production systems on the plant floor. But to more directly solve this problem, WEB-CAB, Inc. has developed Production Assistant, a Manufacturing Execution System that forms the missing link between an ERP management system, and the equipment and the humans operating them on the factory floor.

To learn more about the Production Assistant Manufacturing Execution System, visit