are based on the interconnectedness of your manufacturing processes at various locations, including beyond the borders. All of the quality and production relevant product and process data will be collected and analysed in an integrated system along the value chain in real-time. You will be provided with an extensive overview of your quality and production situation and therefore, you will be able to optimise your production processes in a targeted, sustainable way and, above all, without delay.

MES Software Solutions

With our ZEISS GUARDUS Designer, you can individually adapt and upgrade all of the optical and functional parameters that are relevant for your production process. This is valid not only in the company management, but also in the quality management or production management with its machines and testing systems. We provide you with customised IT support that can be used comfortably and intuitively despite its variety of functionalities. As to how this looks in quality management, production management, process management, and integration, you will find out in the following chapters.

FAQ – Questions and Answers Regarding our MES/CAQ Software

The search for the right Manufacturing Execution System or the appropriate CAQ application brings about many questions. After all, your purpose is to find the perfect solution and the ideal partner. In order to facilitate your access to the world of the shop floor IT, we compiled and answered the typical questions which are all almost always important issues for our customers. We will be happy if this can guide you in the selection of your software.

  • What is the difference between CAQ and MES?

    Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) such as ZEISS GUARDUS represent the IT backbone of each modern production environment. The basis for this is an integrated database regarding all the quality and production relevant raw data as well as the relations among them, that is, the connection between tools, materials, machines, human beings and processes. The software applications for the field of  Computer Aided Quality are accordingly a branch of the MES which focus on the quality insurance along the production process. Thus, a Manufacturing Execution System differentiates from the individual branches such as Computer Aided Quality (CAQ), Production and Machine Data Acquisition (PDA and MDA) or Computer Aided Planning (CAP) through its horizontal perspective and integration capability. All the quality and production relevant data will be administered and evaluated in a central system throughout all business departments without any data disruptions. 

  • In which way is an MES important for the sustainability of my company?

    The flexible interaction between the current manufacturing situation and agile process assurance represents the basis of each forward-looking, competitive production. An MES such as ZEISS GUARDUS is, in this case, the central lever. On the one hand, it provides the complete database in order to plan, execute and digitally represent shop floor processes in an efficient way – up to lot size 1.  On the other hand, the integrated database allows for the monitoring in real time and the dynamic control of the manufacturing via all the quality and production relevant product and process data. This transparency regarding safety, efficiency and traceability represents the basis for the maintenance of an optimum business balance between the production performance and inspection efforts. After all, time gain is as decisive as cost reduction and high quality in the international productivity competition.

  • How does ZEISS help me to choose the right solution for my company?

    Each project begins with the full understanding of the customer’s individual situation. It is only in this way that the consultant team of ZEISS GUARDUS can address the demands and processes of the customer in a targeted way and to cover them in the MES software. This contains the in-depth common consideration of the processes of the company in quality and production management as well as their gradual digitalisation.

  • How can an MES/CAQ be validated?

    A validation is evidence that a process or an IT system complies with the previously specified requirements in a replicable way during the practical use. For this, all the requirements which have to be fulfilled by the software processes will be defined first and then, they will be implemented and documented during the so-called test cases.

  • What do I have to do for my MES to comply with the validation obligations of my branch?

    The validation specifications regarding contents and form can be found in numerous regulations which are often specific to each country. The compliance with the validation obligation must pass through an exactly defined procedure which must meet the requirements of all those countries in which the product is brought into circulation.

  • How can ZEISS offer support for the validation?

    The consultant team of ZEISS GUARDUS provides the customer-specific functions in the MES and carries out the appropriate software training. Moreover, the team also offers support for the accompanying documentation as well as the elaboration of the necessary test cases.

  • Do I have to buy a complete MES or can I first implement only parts of it?

    Before the beginning of an MES project, it is important to know which business objectives are to be pursued. However, the ‘big picture’ is not the frame promising success for the operative project routine. The MES ideas should be implemented gradually via product segments, production lines or plants, acting in a structured way according to processes or areas as well as their relevance for the value added chain. Obviously, the desired final result should always be borne in mind even if ideas clearly change frequently in the course of the project. MESs such as ZEISS GUARDUS are extensively compatible with this project development because of its modular structure. The companies begin there where the pain is the most intense and then gradually implement an extensive MES according to their automation and digitalisation strategy.  

  • What are my advantages from gradually implementing an MES?

    When gradually implementing an MES, a company is able to focus the entire project organisation on the areas where the software has the highest priority learning the mode of operation within the system. At the same time, the experience already gained during the project offers the possibility of implementing each of the following steps in a more efficient way. After all, the following rule of thumb applies to the IT projects: A go live is not only characterised by a productive start.  More than that, it represents the basis for lessons learned, for process-specific follow-up projects and the implementation of new tools and modules. It is only in this way that the companies are able to act agilely and efficiently in terms of new products and production techniques, modified customer requirements or company relocation.

  • Where do Industry 4.0 projects produce economic value added?

    The MES projects in the Industry 4.0 context always pursue the objective of improving the competitiveness of a company in a sustainable way by means of automation, interconnectedness and transparency. This occurs, for example, whenever the necessary production resources such as material, personnel, equipment and tools are planned and used with ZEISS GUARDUS as efficiently and flexibly as possible (keyword: continuous improvement process). Moreover, for many customers, it is decisive to optimise the lead time of the production, e.g. through agile dynamic modification processes dealing with quality inspection. This especially supposes adapting the type and logic of the inspection event according to the situation in order to avoid extensive and even unnecessary quality inspections. The Industry 4.0 projects will always bring the highest economic benefit if they consequently reduce the inspection costs and simultaneously increase the production performance, that is, the manufactured pieces per time unit. It is also important to remember the advantages of a seamless traceability up to the creation of an eDHR. Cost transparency and cost savings can, therefore, be directly implemented in a practical way.

  • How do I bring together the perfect project team for my MES target?

    From a technical point of view, it is important to involve all the departments: production, quality, IT and executive management/controlling. Thus, the result will be the necessary combination of the vertical  process know-how of different departments with the horizontal IT and business competence. From a human point of view, it is important that the colleagues work well together, gladly and that they bring along the necessary commitment to an elaborate project.

  • How much time does an MES project take?

    The MES projects which focus on separate modules and encapsulated processes can be implemented within six to nine months. The more extensive projects which comprise several plants in various countries definitely last more years. In this case, through a very strict project management, various milestones, such as the go lives of each plant, will be defined and executed systematically.

  • What are the possibilities of connecting IT systems?

    ZEISS GUARDUS offers various possibilities of the efficient integration of IT systems. The MES works through standardised or individualised, certifiable software interfaces, depending on the requirement and technical possibilities of the external applications. Moreover, by means of the Manufacturing Service Bus "Orchestra" of the ZEISS GUARDUS partner soffico GmbH, all third party systems can be connected via a central integrations layer. After a short introductory phase, the customer will be able to connect IT systems autonomously.

  • What are the possibilities of connecting measuring systems?

    Besides the common interface formats such as DFQ, ASCII and CSV as well as the serial interfaces via Steinwald or Mitutuyo, ZEISS GUARDUS also offers the possibility of integrating measuring systems via otherwise standardised protocols. After a factory walk-through and the verification of all the technical possibilities, the ZEISS GUARDUS experts will develop the appropriate solution together with the customer.

  • What are the possibilities of connecting SAP?

    It is possible to connect SAP either through the established, standardised IDOC/RFC interfaces or through further formats, such as XML, web services (e.g. REST), etc.. All the interfaces are certifiable through the customer.    

  • What are the possibilities of connecting other ERP systems?

    In the past years, over 20 various ERP systems have already been connected to ZEISS GUARDUS. By means of the Manufacturing Service Bus "Orchestra" of the partner soffico GmbH, the connection of all the conceivable ERP systems is possible quickly and efficiently.

  • How do I connect my production machinery?

    Depending on the heterogeneity of the machinery park, the ZEISS GUARDUS experts elaborate the right solution for the connection of the production machinery together with the customer. The examples for this are, on the one hand, the integration via WAGO, Beckhoff, Heidenhain, Rockwell, Bihl and Wiedmann or Schneider as well as various Siemens and Vipa controls. On the other hand,  the Manufacturing Service Bus "Orchestra" offers the possibility of connecting production machinery through modern standards such as OPC/OPC-UA, MQTT, REST etc. Any SCADA system can also be integrated whereby a direct interface to the production machines is not necessary.

  • Are there any possibilities of simplifying the system integration?

    Due to the Manufacturing Service Bus "Orchestra", we are able to centralise the integration of the most various systems in order to streamline the integration effort as well as the complexity. Moreover, via “no-coding“ and “low-coding“, we enable our customers to execute system integrations completely autonomously.

  • In which way does an MES help control my company through performance indicators?

    Due to the integrated MES database, the responsible persons of every company department can identify the quality and performance situation in the production at a glance and adequately intervene in the process control. For this, the performance indicator catalogue of ZEISS GUARDUS fully illustrates the approximate 30 key performance indicators of the MES standardisation ISO 22400. Moreover, the companies also have the possibility of storing their own performance indicator and reporting systems in the MES. The most important online indicators in the daily activities of the business are the key performance indicators for machines, products, processes, energy consumption, quality and suppliers as well as the performance indicators and trend analyses for top management. For the visualisation, the MES software offers cockpits with high operating comfort in the form of traffic light systems, charts, tables or drill down functions.

  • What happens in case of modified requirements regarding reporting, e.g through the management?

     With the ZEISS GUARDUS tools, the evaluations and reports can be comfortably created anew or adapted in a flexible way at any time. Moreover, the open and documented interfaces to external reporting tools allow for access to further data.

  • Is it possible to roll out an existing MES system to further shop floors?

    The roll-out of an existing MES installation to other shop floors can be implemented by means of the so-called “Master-Templates” in a simple and cost-efficient way. For this, after the go live of the pilot project, a software template with all the necessary modules, functions, user interfaces and integrations will be created. This will represent the basis for all further installations which can also be adjusted or supplemented at any time depending on the plant and country. During the first MES implementation in the first plants, the customers will, of course, enjoy the extensive support of the ZEISS GUARDUS team. However, the target is the extensive knowledge transfer. After all, the companies should be able to carry out further roll-outs autonomously.

    The advantages of a ZEISS GUARDUS template strategy:

    • High standardisation of the MES installations
    • Efficient and cost-effective roll-outs
    • Flexibility for adjustments specific to the plant.
  • In which way does the MES adapt to the processes of my company?

    A major part of the software tendering does not only focuses on the pure functionality of the provider. But also the question as to whether the functions and work interfaces of the software can be customised is decisive in the same manner. After all, an MES must be simple and user-friendly. In case of many manufacturers, the system adjustments which result from this end up leading to recurrent and cost-intensive maintenance efforts, e.g. during the software updates. ZEISS GUARDUS solves this challenge through a highly flexible software architecture which enables customisation without leaving the standard functions of the underlying software engine. Thus, the modifications of the user interfaces, database structure as well as of the process logic can be made without any subsequent costs.

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    Our solution ZEISS GUARDUS guarantees the highest flexibility and individuality. When the standard software application ZEISS GUARDUS is implemented at the customer’s location in situ, it becomes ‘their’ solution which generates significant benefits and enthusiasm.

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    GUARDUS Computer Aided Quality (CAQ) delivers the highest standards of quality management in the manufacturing industry and provides much more than mere functionality. With it, you can take advantage of maximum transparency and continuity in all quality processes and tasks along your value chain.

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