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SME Corner: Why Should Manufacturers Get An MES If They Have Excel?

“Why do I need an MES? I already have Excel and it gets the job done!” is a common remark raised by the SME manufacturers we speak with every day.

Indeed, Microsoft Excel has many functions to help manufacturers with basic data tracking. However, its features are often skeletal and are merely the starting point.

SME manufacturers looking to scale and optimize should upgrade to a manufacturing execution system (MES), which saves them a lot of time and resources.

1. An MES offers a lot more manufacturing-specific features that Excel does not support

In Excel, many manufacturing-specific tasks demand an unreasonable amount of effort from manufacturers to complete, straining their already tight schedules.

After moving to an MES, manufacturers can take advantage of pre-built functions like workstation control, workflow builder, and production scheduling to simplify their production processes. These are essential functions that manufacturers need, regardless of their size and complexity.

Furthermore, these functions are built specifically from a manufacturing perspective to prevent manufacturers from wasting their time hunting through hundreds of charts and tables that they do not need.


An MES usually comes with standardized and optimized templates ready for manufacturers to deploy based on their existing jobs and processes.

2. An MES provides real-time data tracking

Time is money – and this is even more relevant for SME manufacturers. Excel requires the manual updating of the data. However, an MES synchronizes the operations' information for users from shop floors to control rooms in real time.

Manufacturers can thus check on the live status of any part of their operations whenever and wherever they are. An MES gives live data at a user’s fingertips so that they won’t miss a single product.

Want to find out if the hot stamping machine is still running now? Check.

Need to know how many workers are on the shop floor today? Check.

Confirming that there won’t be another delay for the shipment? Check.

3. An MES centralizes data so manufacturers can see all operations at once

SME manufacturers often have to rely on many spreadsheets at once in Excel. There could be one file for inventory and another for machines. Then, in those files, there are even smaller sheets for different categories! Switching through different files is an arduous process that can confuse new workers and cause incorrect data to be input or used.

Upgrading to an MES prevents this problem completely. Everything a manufacturer needs for operations tracking is consolidated in one place, minimizing the risk of losing files and data.

Additionally, an MES can be upgraded to connect manufacturers directly to machines, equipment and sensors to automatically pull in information without the need for manual input. This is something that would be nearly impossible for Excel to do efficiently.

In fact, in Arcstone’s MES, the functions are presented in intuitive interfaces so that anyone, regardless of coding ability, can easily use the functions.

4. An MES has pre-defined fields, so manufacturers won’t miss out on information

Manufacturers using Excel need to manually update their sheets often. It is tiring to keep creating new tabs and finding online templates. This is an issue that MES users would never have to worry about.

All MES functions are pre-programmed by experts and constantly updated to accommodate the rapid changes in the manufacturing industry. Pre-defined fields and inputs are already created by the developers so that manufacturers need not take the unnecessary risk of missing out on any data category.

Even if these fields are missing, toolsets such as Arcstone's would allow you to add in your custom fields to fill in all the necessary digital information you need for orders, quality controls, etc.

5. An MES can be cheaper than Excel (arc.lite is free!)

Many SME manufacturers might use Excel because of its low cost since it is part of the Microsoft Office package.

A common myth is that an MES is expensive. The good news is, Arcstone offers arc.lite, a permanently free MES with no strings attached!

Designed for SMEs to start digitalizing, arc.lite is fully browser-based and just takes one day to deploy. arc.lite offers all the key functions that SME manufacturers need to gain a full overview of their business processes and operations.

So, how should manufacturers view Excel?

Excel can get the job done but requires too much effort from SME manufacturers to maintain and more importantly, scale. It is safer to treat Excel as a temporary software and not a long-term solution if they want to scale.

To truly track every key detail and fully optimize their processes, the best option is still to onboard a powerful and flexible MES.

Learn about Arcstone's free SME-friendly MES, arc.lite today!


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