MES for a Top Pharma Factory in El Salvador

5 min video  /  4 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: 588
  • Screens: 209
  • Clients: 47
  • Alarms: 20
  • Devices used: 5 Siemens LOGO8, 1 ModbusTCP Datalogger
  • Architectures used: Standard
  • Databases used: Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL
  • Historical data logged: 78

Project Overview

This project involved the implementation of a manufacturing execution system (MES) in the Salvadoran pharmaceutical industry. The project was for Gamma Laboratories, one of the top 10 pharmaceutical factories in El Salvador. Gamma has more than 280 employees.



Gamma Laboratories has invested heavily in infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment in its pharmaceutical manufacturing lines to meet the requirements of the World Health Organization.

Having more technologically advanced equipment and better facilities carries greater responsibilities. As these machines are made up of more complex systems, it’s extremely important to constantly monitor their performance to anticipate problems that could lead to prolonged production downtime and compromise the delivery of orders to customers.

Constant monitoring of the operation of the plant equipment is beneficial in order to increase the availability of such equipment during the working hours of the plant — while also achieving longer life of the equipment. All this is possible by implementing the necessary maintenance at the right time.

The maintenance department must have relevant information available from the production department (information generated automatically or loaded by the operators themselves or those in charge of production) in order to know when to carry out preventive maintenance and thus avoid the necessity of corrective action, which leads to longer production downtimes and higher costs.



Erde used Ignition to achieve communication between several existing and new field devices and a centralized server, in order to log the information generated by the plant machines. Erde also used Ignition to access information managed by the existing ERP system, so that this data could be made available to the maintenance department, or be manipulated by the MES itself. An example of this is the automation of calculations done by the planning department, which previously had to locate and export the relevant data to Excel and then manipulate it by hand. Now this process has been simplified to a pair of clicks, and the results can be shared in real time, generating a report that can be printed or sent via email.

Ignition was also used to implement a way to log manufacturing data by the machine operators, to eliminate the need to do so on paper. This data is available to supervisors in real time, and the supervisors can also use the system to manage production orders. Changes made by supervisors to production orders are also available to operators in real time.

With the MES developed with Ignition, the maintenance department is now aware of the production schedule for each piece of equipment and the precise amount of time that has been planned for production.

New screens display relevant parameters in real time, and both planning and maintenance can monitor status and working speed of machines, clean room temperature and pressure, requirements of support systems, and more.



The maintenance department is now able to instantly know the status of the support systems, anytime they are needed, reducing waste of resources and energy. Preventive maintenance can now be scheduled without fear of interfering with production time, and corrective maintenance alerts are received in real time, reducing idle time.

Also, it’s now possible to have a detailed and updated inventory of spare parts and tools available in the plant, with historic details about their use. A history of the maintenance carried out in the equipment, detailing each of the changes, modifications, or repairs done can now be accessed by maintenance personnel, reducing the intervention time for any problems.

Planning and production management can now be updated of the status of any production orders, time used in each production step, time spent in machine cleaning and setting, overall speed of manufacturing for each format and type of product, number and length of machine breakdown, and impacts to planned production time.

Gamma also has automatic calculation of production projections based on annual demand, existing inventories, and product priority. Calculation of total raw material needed for each production run, turn, or week can be done with a pair of clicks.

The implementation of the MES has benefitted the entire factory, as damage to equipment and repair expenses due to lack of maintenance have been reduced, as has time wasted in underutilization of machines due to inadequate planning. Manufacturing costs related to preparation of raw materials for production scheduled without considering the state of the plant equipment and its capabilities has been reduced. Reports to upper management are now completed faster and are more accurate.

Project Information

Created By:   Erde Automation

Erde Automation is a control systems integrator in El Salvador, Central America, founded in 2008. The main purpose of the company is to bridge the gap between IT and OT systems in the local manufacturing industry. Erde Automation is Ignition Certified, and is leading the customized MES software development in El Salvador.


Project For:   Gamma Laboratories

Gamma Laboratories is one of the top 10 pharmaceutical factories in El Salvador, with more than 37 years of experience. The company is dedicated to the production, importing, and distribution of human and veterinary pharmaceutical products in the regional market. More than 280 people work there, contributing to the health of many families in Central America.

Posted on September 30, 2019