Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Business Value of Industry 4.0

By Francisco Almada-Lobo, MESA Member and CEO of Critical Manufacturing

MESA’s 2017 Smart Story Awards submission period  stay open until May 31st.  

In an interview with the winners of the 2016 Smart Story Awards, the top winning story from Critical Manufacturing raised some questions about Industry 4.0. More specifically, attendees wanted to know what is the business value of Industry 4.0. Here's the full answer:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Notes From The Smart Manufacturing And IIoT Round Table Discussion

MESA-2017-Roundtable-Discussion-2I am sharing below some of my favorite highlights from the round table discussions on Smart Manufacturing at the 2017 Manufacturing & Technology Conference at Cleveland. MESA International organized this forum and there were many common discussion threads and questions among manufacturers moving forward with Smart Manufacturing and IIoT initiatives in their respective companies.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Top 3 drivers for MES in Industry 4.0

By Francisco Almada-Lobo, MESA Member and CEO of Critical Manufacturing

MESA’s 2017 Smart Story Awards is now taking submissions until May 31st.  

In an interview with the winners of the 2016 Smart Story Awards, the top winning story from Critical Manufacturing raised some questions about Industry 4.0. More specifically, attendees wanted to know what are the Industry 4.0 drivers for MES. Here's the full answer:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Two-Factor Authentication – Uses and Misses

By Dirk Sweigart, CISSP, PMP, Cybersecurity Working Group Member

A key part of securing assets is establishing the identity of an individual who wishes to access that asset in some way.  We need to be sure that the person who is making the request is who he or she claims to be.  The asset can be a control system, a building, a VPN or an application, to name a few.  Two-factor authentication is becoming relatively common as a method of confirming that identity.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shop-Floor Decentralization: Shop Floor Marketplace Emerges

By Francisco Almada-Lobo, MESA Member and CEO of Critical Manufacturing

MESA’s 2017 Smart Story Awards is kicking off the submission period on April 1st and will stay open until May 31st.  

In an interview with the winners of the 2016 Smart Story Awards, the top winning story from Critical Manufacturing raised some questions about the shop floor. More specifically, attendees wanted to know more about shop-floor decentralization. Here's the full answer:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Working Towards an Industrial Ontology Foundry to Facilitate Interoperability

By KC Morris and Serm Kulvatunyou, Systems Integration Division, NIST

Ontologies for industrial problems have been a topic of research for several years.  Recently they are also appearing in activities by consortia groups working on standards.  These efforts, though overlapping, have been disjoint.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a single place, a foundry, to go to find a community-vetted ontology suitable for your industrial needs or at least as a starting point for your work?  That was exactly the topic of the workshop at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) last December when a group of industry, government, and academic researchers met to discuss the possibilities for such a place. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cybersecurity Guidance is Available for Industrial Safety Systems

By Eric Cosman, Cybersecurity Working Group  Co-Chair

Information systems employed in Operations (including industrial control systems) are often subject to very stringent requirements related to information integrity and performance. Functional needs such as these can lead to the identification of secondary requirements and constraints in areas such as cybersecurity. The challenges associated with securing industrial control and related systems have in turn been topics of considerable discussion, debate, and analysis for the past several years. The ISA99 committee and IEC Technical Committee 65 Working Group 10 have developed the 62443 series of standards that provide requirements and guidance on all aspects of the subject. This information is deliberately expressed in broad terms, allowing it to be applied across a wide range of industries and situations.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Internet of Services in Industry 4.0

By Mikes James, Chairman, MESA International Board of Directors
Internet A Series Of Tubes by Jeremy Brooks (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In the fourth blog post of this series, we explore how the internet of services fits with smart manufacturing. There is much talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). However, ‘things’ are just part of the plumbing. We connect devices, giving them, no more than, nominal intelligence. The real innovation is the internet of services. Manufacturers need to think through their business model: how can a product become a service with a long-term revenue stream?

Many manufacturers are recognizing and exploiting the opportunity. For example, Tesla is delivering vehicles with hardware and software which can be upgraded, their cars are sensor ready and software upgrades will provide extra intelligence, delivered via the internet. The customer could pay for the upgrades which then generates extra revenue for Tesla.
Otis is supplying elevators/lifts with sensors which send data into their cloud. The data is analyzed and Otis sells a predictive maintenance services package, again adding a long-term revenue stream.
Additionally, a new catering company in The Netherlands is supplying custom meals to hospitals. Each meal is prepared for the patient based upon data received from the hospital about the patient’s needs. The meals are prepared in an automated plant.

The individualization of mass production and the internet of services add additional revenue. The smart manufacturing plant needs to be flexible and deliver intelligent products. A major misunderstanding is that this is not a cost saving exercise; it’s a new business model to increase revenue and profitability.

It’s important to map out opportunities and match them against the realities of today’s technology. A manufacturer who was heavily investing in a factory of the future did not build this type of strategy. Enthusiastic engineers ordered additive manufacturing machines (3D printing) only to find out they could not connect them to their network using international standards. They paid a heavy price for this error and damaged the initiative’s reputation. It’s worth taking independent advice before completing your new manufacturing strategy.
The best way to avoid these mistakes and build a successful strategy is to learn from other manufacturers in a safe space. MESA is a safe harbor to share best practices and lessons learned so that the industry can collectively rise to Industry 4.0.
Join MESA’s working groups to share with and learn from industry peers and attend MESA’s Fix Event at the North American Conference this May in Cleveland, Ohio. This event is unlike any other in that you can bring questions about what you are trying to fix or what you think might need to be fixed in the future and get answers from MESA experts.  We hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How Can Tools and Culture Come Together for Lean Transformation?

By Julie Fraser, Founder MESA Analytics Working Group and lifetime MESA member

In the early days of Lean, software was to be avoided at all costs. Clearly that’s no longer the case, and MESA members can vouch for that. In fact, our members find that automation and MES are key enablers for Lean.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Manufacturing in the 4th Industrial Revolution Goes Beyond 5 Senses

By Mikes James, Chairman, MESA International Board of Directors

In the third article of this series, discover the steps required to make the fourth Industrial Revolution a reality.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Use Case Approach to Cybersecurity Whitepapers

By Eric Cosman, Co-Chair of MESA's Cybersecurity Working Group

The Cybersecurity Working Group (CS-WG) was established to provide guidance to MESA members on how to address the information and electronic security of manufacturing operations and control systems. The intent is to provide this information in various forms (e.g., documents, webcasts, presentations) in order to…

Thursday, December 22, 2016

6 Steps to Prepare for Industry 4.0

By Mike James, Chairman, MESA International Board of Directors 
"Manufacturing companies can take some simple steps to help prepare their business for change and the fourth industrial revolution".

In my last blog post, I outlined the technologies and thinking behind the fourth industrial revolution. The question still on the table is ‘what steps do manufacturers need to take to prepare for Industry 4.0?’ We know that manufacturing will be very different in 20 years’ time, but we also know that technologies, materials, IT and society are changing fast. So we will have to be prepared to be flexible, putting in place processes and technologies that are adaptable and will achieve a much faster return on investment.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bridging the IT/OT Gap: Bring IT into Your Acceptance Testing

By Dirk Sweigart, CISSP, PMP, Cybersecurity Working Group Member

A key part of starting up a new industrial control system or manufacturing application is the acceptance test.  If IT resources are not already involved, the acceptance test presents an excellent opportunity to bring them into your project. A successful implementation may solicit IT input on acceptance testing criteria and enlist their aid in performing the cybersecurity portions of the acceptance test.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What to expect in the 4th Industrial Revolution

By Mike James, Chairman, MESA International Board of Directors 

In April 2013 at Hannover Messe, a consortium of universities, research institutions and industrial companies in Germany presented a report which called for investment, awareness, ideas and further research to help realise ­Industry 4.0 – a term used to describe a wide variety of innovations in IT, manufacturing technology and materials that will lead to the fourth industrial revolution.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition in the US is supporting the development of smart manufacturing – systems that integrate manufacturing intelligence in real-time across an entire production operation.

Tesla Robot Dance by Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)

Essentially, the industrialised countries have spotted an opportunity. Each wants to be at the forefront of the new industrial revolution – a revolution which is expected to bring manufacturing back to Europe and North America, and create high value-added jobs.

Social, technology and green changes are driving the revolution, which will lead to the individualisation of mass production. Everything from your car to your shoes will be made to your specifications, but still mass produced.

This is a social change and we estimate that people are willing to pay around 10-15% more for a unique product. At the same time, they expect to be able to get their hands on their purchase almost immediately, and this is driving the trend to make products locally.

Green is having a major impact too; we do not want any waste, and we do not want to use precious fuel to transport goods unnecessarily. Again, this will lead to small-scale, localised manufacturing. Microbreweries are already leading the charge in this respect.

In the fourth industrial revolution, manufacturing plants will be self-organising. Products and machines will be able to talk to each other, and they will have chips with detailed manufacturing instructions embedded in them.

Then there is the concept of cyber physical systems. Our plants, products and equipment will first be built in simulated environments and virtual reality will be used to check the feasibility, layout, quality and volume that can be achieved. Not a foundation stone will be laid of the physical factory before the virtual factory has been perfected.

So how can manufacturers drive forward this next industrial revolution? Please discuss in the comments.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why and How to Use Production Process Management (PPM) in Smart Manufacturing

By Michael McClellan, Darren Riley, Tim Sanford, MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group Members

Business processes in today’s typical manufacturing environment is, at best, full of information gaps.  Within the major enterprise level systems such as ERP or PLM most processes are based or focused on departmental issues which means the processes are not cross-functional. 

Production Process Management (PPM) is the missing link that supports Smart Manufacturing. PPM is a specialized version of Business Process Management (BPM) that describes the concept of applying process design and management tools to the areas of manufacturing plant and supply chain activities within and across the extended enterprise.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Checklist for Cybersecurity in Industrial Internet of Things

By Mike Hannah, MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group Member 

Over the last year or so there has been much written about the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Manufacturing initiatives like Industry 4.0, that promise huge potential benefits for manufactures.  In particular, we hear about how organizations are recognizing that information created by connecting intelligent things (IoT) and industrial control systems (ICS) to the enterprise business systems is achieving greater visibility into their operations, all helping to make significant operational improvements.  To achieve this however requires seamless and secure flow of information from the machines and equipment, to the lines, to the people, to the plants, and to the enterprise levels.  

This network convergence, or connected enterprise, comes with some challenges. User’s face an unclear demarcation of network ownership, and cultural difference exist between OT and IT professional who are deploying both enterprise and industrial assets.  And probably the most important aspect is that it exposes the connected industrial assets to additional security threats that they typically didn’t  have to think about before.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

MESA's Contributions to Industrial Cybersecurity

By Eric Cosman, Co-Chair MESA's Cybersecurity Working Group 

The subject of industrial cybersecurity has been a topic of considerable interest for well over a decade, particularly with respect to the potential implications for the protection of critical infrastructure. Standards exist at the industry, national and international level, but these are often of little practical use to the typical asset owner without additional professional guidance. Several groups and organizations have stepped forward to provide such guidance, often directed at a specific industry sector. To a considerable degree, these guides and similar documents then restate or reinterpret the same or similar principles, without adding much in the way of new or fresh insight.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How “Smart” Are We in Manufacturing Today?

By Conrad Leiva, MESA International Board Member and chair of MESA's Smart Manufacturing Working Group

In a prior blog post  we discussed that Smart Manufacturing is not very “smart” if we are not using communication standards to connect equipment, people and processes in the manufacturing enterprise. In this blog post we review the reality of adoption of integration standards in manufacturing based on a recent MESA and IDC Manufacturing Insights survey. The survey was sent to both manufacturers and vendors that provide equipment and software to manufacturing, and the results are shared below.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Smart Manufacturing Landscape Explained unConference Roundup

At MESA’s 2016 North American Conference co-located at IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference and Expo, Conrad Leiva led an unConference session on the topic of Smart Manufacturing. Conrad leads MESA’s Smart Manufacturing Working Group which has developed many great resources this year.  Resources include a one-liner for Smart Manufacturing, several blog posts on the topic, videos on 5 questions about SM, and a whitepaper on the full vision called the Smart Manufacturing Landscape Explained.

Here’s a dialogue of questions and answers from Conrad and the crowd. You can download slides from the presentation here..


A_Crowd: Connecting our enterprise to the customer down through the suppliers with as few steps as possible

A_Crowd: Optimized and connected supply chain

A_Crowd: Having capability to have shop floor run itself: near real-time scheduling, etc.

A_Crowd: Adapting and self-correcting; make sure there is calibration at all times; more autonomous

A_Conrad: All those answers are great and all fit into the MESA definition:

Smart Manufacturing – The intelligent, real-time orchestration and optimization of business, physical and digital processes within factories and across the entire value chain. -MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group


A_Crowd: Putting RFID on inventory so that it knows the parts and the quantities coming into the factory; and it can react accordingly. Right now we have to do that manually to setup the line to make the 20 flavors.

A_Crowd: Fulfillment center to deliver products to the packers rather than pickers to the part. Deliver entire shelves; to orchestrate those moving parts.


A_Crowd: Cross schedule adherence and upstream manufacturing -- they were able to calibrate an almost just-in-time contract with their suppliers as the information was shared with their logistics and suppliers.

A_Crowd: Observation on what crowd agreed on: Being able to define strategies; how is it linked to value drivers, and tie to a roadmap. It was business-driven ways to improve.

Example: we want connectivity into the supply chain and for it to be structured information: xml, etc.


A_Crowd: Start in small groups and then expand it out


A_Crowd: Not too many in crowd raised hand to say budget is a problem


A_Crowd: There is a fear of the security risks (especially for chemical industry). Is the technology ready to provide the security to keep it safe?

A_Crowd: Resistance from IT departments because of responsibility of what happens on the plant floor like lines shutting down; “IT departments work for manufacturing but don’t see themselves as manufacturers”

A_Crowd: One manufacturer moved their IT under the manufacturing department because they were not getting the needed connection and service

A_Crowd: Align with lean practices and continuous improvement teams; that will give them obstacles to break down


A_Crowd: Since we put our ERP onto the cloud, regulatory (like OSHA) and strategic initiatives align because that’s how they are supposed to.

A_Crowd: Yes, makes sense to align IT with your lean journey. It’s easy to blame IT, but it’s really a failure of leadership. It’s the corporate vision that is supposed to drive alignment throughout all of it.

A_Crowd: The execution of that strategy is paramount

A_Crowd: Top down business case or business driver 


A_Conrad: check resource library----importance in getting the vision defined for the c-suite; and the education and skills to get it


A_Crowd: Strategic change management; internal with external stakeholders.

A_Crowd: Take them out of manufacturing and put them into IT; and vice versa; we have a cross training program. 6 months at a time. Employees like it and want it.

A_Crowd:  A “convergence center” for new students; workforce of the future


A_Crowd: Going through our strategy, we wondered once we connect everything, where will the weaknesses be?

We decided to bring in a 3rd party to do a “Hackathon” and we found that the hardest part (weaknesses) was the M2M (anything from printers to the machines on the shop floor); and now they are authorizing all the devices on the port level as well as wireless.

Q_Conrad: What was the result? Should we be worried?

A_Crowd: You should be terrified because hackers can get into your machine easier than your laptop or phone. We are sharing lessons learned with vendors, other printer manufacturers and with CISCO and we introduced the hackathon company to these vendors.

A_Conrad: That is a great thing to do to get started on the journey… go after the problem head-on. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Imagine a world with digital threads of manufacturing information. These stories will help us get there.

By Lindsey Frick, MESA Communications Manager
MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) International is on a mission to unlock success stories about using manufacturing data and IT to make smart decisions throughout value chains. These stories will help the world learn how manufacturing data can be used to save time, money, resources, and spot a host of environmental savings. It's time to turn data into opportunities!
Check out MESA's Smart Story Awards -- Due by June 20th.
Stories can be from manufacturers, solution providers/systems integrators, 3PLs, recyclers, retailers, or anyone involved in any part of the value chain of a product, component, or material.