Monday, November 16, 2020

Getting the New MESA Smart Manufacturing Model Off the Ground

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Khris Kammer, MESA Knowledge Committee Chair 

The world of manufacturing is undergoing a significant step change. Terms like Smart Manufacturing, Digital Transformation, and Industry 4.0 are top of mind for many executives. There’s lots of new technologies coming together to create AI solutions, digital twins, digital threads, the industrial internet of things, AR/VR solutions, and a whole lot more. This smart technology, along with a lot of smart people, are creating the fourth industrial revolution and driving economic growth through manufacturing.

With all this technology coming together, everyone seems to be looking at it from their own points of view. This means there’s a good bit of confusion out there with practitioners not sure about how all this technology fits together or how all this technology really achieves the benefits everyone claims.

MESA, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, is developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model that will cut through the hype and the fluff, and provide simple, easy-to-use model for Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0.

MESA formed a new team of industry experts who are now meeting on a regular basis to create the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model. The team is extremely experienced and includes people who’ve developed previous versions of MESA models as well as industry standards.

The team comes from a wide range of backgrounds, representing manufacturing companies, solution providers, and industry analysts. It’s a very strong mix of experienced individuals from a wide range of roles. Engineering, automation, information technology, operations technology, operations management, executive management, and research and development are just a few of the roles represented.

The team also comes from a wide variety of industries with the intent for the model to be completely industry agnostic, with the ability to tailor it to specific industries and business models. Individuals from process industries, batch industries, discrete industries, and hybrid industries are all included.

Khris Kammer, the chairman of the MESA Knowledge Committee, who is helping lead the team, says, “The group is very excited to work on the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model. New technologies are converging in the form of Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0. But, more than just the technologies, tough market conditions are driving companies to think differently about their manufacturing operations. Maybe for the first time ever, C-suite executives are collectively understanding the importance of their manufacturing operations and developing new and exciting visions for the future, all built on the role Smart Manufacturing should play in their companies.”

There’s no doubt we’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, but the size and the impact are still up to us. That’s why MESA is building this new model, to add even more power to the revolution and ensure that its impact is global, substantial, and long-lasting.

A model, which is typically defined as an abstract definition of something that exists in the real world, needs structures to make it work. The MESA team has decided that the highest-level structure in the new model will be the “lifecycle”.

This makes a lot of sense because everything has a lifecycle. The team is working on finalizing the breadth and the depth of the lifecycles that will be in the model, with leading candidates including the product lifecycle, the asset lifecycle, the personnel lifecycle, and the supply chain lifecycle, just to name a few. Each lifecycle will have multiple functions defined within it, which combined, provide manufacturers with the complete solutions they need for their businesses.

To make the new model applicable to real world situations, and thus more valuable, the team is modeling the interactions between the various lifecycles and detailing the technology threads which span across the lifecycles. Example technology threads include cybersecurity, quality & regulatory compliance, cloud computing, and AI / Machine Learning, with several more threads being considered.

The team intends for the model to be used by virtually everyone in the industrial space. Khris explains this idea: “The new Smart Manufacturing model will break the landscape into manageable pieces so that everyone can understand the components. It will serve both as a reference model and as a prescriptive model. By detailing the individual pieces and their interactions, it will provide everyone that uses the model with common points of view necessary to understand and communicate about the entire Smart Manufacturing landscape. This will help them evaluate solutions, technologies, and offerings, to ultimately determine how well they fit their own businesses.”

Everyone that uses the model will speak a common language. Whether it’s solution providers, manufacturing companies, end users, analysts, engineering companies, or whomever, by using the model, they will have a common language and a common understanding of the Smart Manufacturing landscape.

Khris goes on to explain why the team is so excited about the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model. “The team is excited and inspired. There’s lot of drivers in the industry, ranging from new technologies to new challenges, and these drivers are resulting in new business models. We’re seeing the opportunity for a step change in industry, and we have to take advantage of it. We cannot drop back to business as usual. We must embrace these changes and build on them, giving this revolution more momentum.”

This really is a great time to be in manufacturing. There’s There are new technologies. There’s new business models. There’s excitement about manufacturing from the C-suite on down like we’ve never seen before, and there’s more people talking about manufacturing than we’ve ever seen before.

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing model is looking to build on that excitement. It will help point the way to the future and give everyone a framework for truly understanding the value of Smart Manufacturing. It’s a good day to be in manufacturing and the new MESA model will point the way to an even brighter future. 

Stay tuned for more on the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Financial Analytics that Support Manufacturing Excellence

My expertise is accounting and finance, so some manufacturers may look upon this blog with a bit of suspicion.  I understand.  Beyond evaluating cash flow, traditional accounting and financial reporting conventions and practices have done a poor, perhaps even dysfunctional, job of supporting manufacturing operational improvements and has often been a hurdle or roadblock.

The new (3/31/2020) update of the MESA Manufacturing Analytics Guidebook emphasizes, provides references, and give many examples of the improvements and changes to financial models and information that are needed to support modern manufacturing analytics.  The biggest change needed is the mindset of CEO’s, CFO’s, and everyone in accounting and finance.  The new mindset must focus on supporting manufacturing with usable and actionable information that reflects operations clearly (and quickly) and supports internal decision making.   The façade that traditional accounting and finance information provides any sort of “control” over manufacturing must end!

The MESA Manufacturing Analytics Guidebook presents a “Bill of Rights for Managerial Cost Information Users” developed by the Center for Managerial Costing Quality (, now called the Profitability Analytics Center for Excellence (

Definition: Managerial Costing supports decision makers tasked with optimally achieving their organization’s strategic objectives. Decision makers at all levels of an organization should be provided managerial cost information that:

1. Clearly reflects the causal operational relationships of resources, their capacity and the processes that produce the organization’s outputs 
2. Calculates and reports reliable and actionable information on costs of processes, products, service lines, channels, missions and customers
3. Reflects the economic realities of the decision at hand, unhindered by external regulatory accounting rules 
4. Is consistent with the organization’s creation of long-term sustainable value or the long-term execution of the organization’s mission 
5. Doesn’t lead to argument and debate about its usefulness and accuracy 
6. Is readily available, sufficiently detailed and logically structured to improve visibility, facilitate analysis and provide insights

Resolution: Decision-making is challenging in all circumstances. Decision makers at all levels of an organization must ensure that those providing cost information for their decision-making honor these rights that are essential to effectively execute their management responsibilities.”

If you are looking for better financial metrics to support manufacturing, particularly as you adopt Industry 4.0 practices, The MESA Manufacturing Analytics Guidebook is a great starting place to get guidance and perspective on what decision support oriented financial information should look like.

About the Author

Larry R. White, CMA, CSCA, CFM, CPA, is the Executive Director of the Resource Consumption Accounting Institute ( which focuses on improving financial decision support in organizations and is a member of the MESA Analytics Working Group  He is a former Global Chairman of the Institute of Management Accountants, former member of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board, and currently a member of the International Federation of Accountants Professional Accountants in Business Committee.  He is a retired Captain, US Coast Guard, with a career primarily in financial management and worked for Deloitte as a Senior Business Advisor. He has written a bimonthly column for Automation World magazine 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Smart Manufacturing as a Cultural Change – Part 2: Managing the Cultural Upheaval

Conrad Leiva, Stefan Zippel 

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed that the move to a Smart Manufacturing ecosystem is not just about adopting new technology. There is a required organizational culture change that goes along with the business process changes to assure the success of achieving high levels of transparency, threaded business processes, and integrated transactions in the value chain. In this Part 2, we discuss some important considerations for managing the people dimension of the transformation. 

There are three natural forces that hinder transformation in mature organizations. The first challenge for many organizations is that the existing organizational culture is deeply ingrained. There are legacy patterns and shared assumptions that have worked for years successfully solving problems and these are passed down to new team members as best practices. Legacy thinking can make it hard to institutionalize new processes encouraging transparency, collaboration, and viewing external resources as partners instead of suppliers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Smart Manufacturing as a Cultural Change – Part 1: Managing the Business Transformation

Conrad Leiva, Stefan Zippel   

There is a misunderstanding preventing us from unlocking the true potential of Smart Manufacturing and the digital transformation. A misunderstanding that revolves around the notion that it is all about technology, and this is reinforced by the many definitions and tactics used by some software vendors when they promote their technologies as “the solution”.

This misunderstanding is not a new phenomenon. If you have been working in manufacturing automation for the last few decades, you have seen this before. We have been telling people that it is not about the technology for years, but the hype of new technology seems to be irresistible.
Evidence of this misunderstanding is clear in the fact that surveys reveal that 70% of IoT and digital transformation projects fail. [1,2] A recurring theme in these project “failures” is that they are focused on trialing technologies with an overconfidence that technology alone can achieve great productivity gains. However, many of these projects in hindsight reveal a modest ROI and end up shelved.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Common Myths Hamper Progress on Industrial Cybersecurity

Eric C. Cosman, MESA Cybersecurity Working Group Chairman 

Just as with other initiatives directed at preventing negative consequences, efforts to reduce or mitigate cybersecurity risks often have to counter beliefs or perceptions that may be inaccurate or incorrect. Analysts and industry observers have identified several common “myths” and provided arguments to counter these beliefs. While many of these myths were originally highlighted in the context of general purpose of business systems cybersecurity, they often apply equally to industrial systems.

Members of the MESA cybersecurity working group have discussed many of these myths and shared experiences and observations that can be used to counter them. The group has decided to share this information with MESA members in hopes that it can be used in describing the imperative for an effective response in the form of a comprehensive cybersecurity management system. Group members will address several common myths in separate blog posts over the following weeks and months. These include:
  • We are safe because we are not connected to the Internet.
  • Our firewalls protect us.
  • Hackers do not understand industrial systems.
  • We are an unlikely target for attack.
  • Safety backup system will protect us.
We welcome questions, observations, counter arguments or other comments as we conduct this dialog.


The following sources were used to identify topics to be addressed in this series:
  1. DarkReading: 8 Cybersecurity Myths Debunked (
  2. Cybersecurity Magazine: The Top 5 Cybersecurity Myths That Need to Die (
  3. Cybint Solutions: 10 Cybersecurity Myths You Need to Stop Believing (
  4. Forbes: These Are 10 Cybersecurity Myths That Must Be Busted (
  5. Gartner: Cybersecurity Myths of the Industrial IoT (
  6. Abisham: Industrial Cybersecurity Top Myths Busted (

About the Author
Eric C. Cosman
Principal Consultant
OIT Concepts LLC

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Smart Manufacturing Update from the MESA Community Feud

Conrad Leiva, MESA International, Smart Manufacturing WG Chairman

MESA had a recent web event focused on Smart Manufacturing with a game show type of format and an opportunity for the audience to participate through polls. The Smart Manufacturing Community Feud was initially inspired on the Family Feud game show, but the idea was modified to an interactive format with the webcast viewers.

I came out of the experience with the following observations based on the responses from peers in the community. These echoed many of the opinions we have received at workshops and regular calls with the MESA Smart Manufacturing Community members.  
  • There is still a big percentage of manufacturers that have not fully embraced the Smart Manufacturing journey, but the industry leaders are starting to share their success stories and initiatives are becoming more prevalent.
  • However, over half of the companies polled reported a mismatch between their Smart Manufacturing goals and the vision portrayed at conferences. Many have set their expectations for Smart Manufacturing much lower.  This aligns with previous surveys where there seems to be a 50-50% split on people focused on cost reduction and optimization versus business transformation and new business models.
  • The vast majority believe that workers will be part of the factory of the future, but they will be augmented by co-bots, exoskeletons, and AI-driven assistants.
  •  Most agree that we do not need more data than we are collecting today. Having data does not seem to be the problem. We are either not collecting the right data, or we are not organizing, relating and modeling the existing data in ways that enable better use of analytical tools.
  •  The most surprising response was the excitement around digital twins. There is a significant percent counting on the results of digital twin initiatives as an essential part of their business model. However, there is concern about the investment required and the effort to align multiple parallel initiatives among different departments working on simulation models and digital twin type of functionality. 
  •  Many are expecting security and privacy standards to evolve quickly and become the new norm in the industry for the entire supply chain. There is also enthusiasm behind blockchain as a technology that can help with data exchanges among value chain partners.
  • When asked about MES/MOM, the popular opinion is that MES is evolving as a central repository of contextualized data. However, many also believe it will also be divided up into smaller modular apps. These are not mutually exclusive options. The MES platform can be designed to provide the data layer separately and allow varied modular apps to interact with the data layers via APIs.

To hear the Smart Manufacturing Community Feud – Episode 1 click on this link.

For more information on how to join the MESA Smart Manufacturing Community click on the following link.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Improving Customer Trust in the Smart Manufacturing Supply Chain

By: Dave Noller & Conrad Leiva

The manufacturing and consumer market are getting more competitive every day with a lot of options for the buyer available on the shelf or just a few clicks away. Brand differentiation is important to remain top of mind for buying decisions. For example, in the food industry, more than 80% of food consumers consider the impact of how and where food was produced when making a purchase. Trends show that consumers want to know more than just the nutritional information - they want to know the food’s origin, when it was grown, and how. What are the demands in your industry? How is your company innovating to stay ahead of the curve?

This article focuses on examples from the food industry, but the lessons learned can be applied to supply chains in other industries. For example, the bar is rising for safety, quality and traceability in other markets like pharma, medical devices, automotive and aerospace. Companies are moving beyond regulatory compliance in these industries. They want to get ahead of customer demands and make sure their supply chain can meet these data and traceability requirements.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Plant Is a Symphony of Challenges and Choices

By John Meulemeester, MESA Commercial Leader

I have visited literally hundreds of production plants, from producing radios, cars and bricks to soup and chemical ingredients. I can tell you, there is hardly such a thing as a “standard production line in a factory”. If you know one company that has an ‘identical’ production line in two plants, please let me know.

I compare this to music. Universally limited to only 12 notes… it creates an infinite number of “songs and symphonies”.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

MESA Member Q&A: Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group

By Shaunna Balady, Member, MESA International Marketing Committee

As part of our ‘MESA Proud’ campaign, we’re shining some light on various members who help this nonprofit continue to be an important network for IT education and collaboration in the Smart Manufacturing and MES/MOM space.

First up, we have Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group. Chris shares an overview on what it’s like to be in the working group, why he is a MESA member and his personal hobbies.

Q: As Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group, what type of issues does the group seem to be focused on?
A: The group is focused on taking industry security standards like ISA-62443, SP 800-82, CIS CSC, ISO/IEC 27001, NIST Ver. 1.1, etc and making those accessible and understandable to all MESA members as related to cybersecurity issues in manufacturing and/or industrial systems. 
Additionally, the group has created a number of blog articles which address the topic of security in an effort to bring awareness, education, and knowledge sharing.
Further, the group is active in trying to provide guidance on dealing with end of extended support issues around Windows XP and Server 2003 and upcoming for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. View upcoming meeting dates to participate.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

4 Essential Steps for Success with the Artificial Intelligence of Things

By Jane Howell, MESA Americas Board Member

This blog is a MESA Member Point of View.

Some technologies are inevitably bound together. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are a perfect example of two technologies that complement each other and should be tightly connected.

The combination is AIoT (the artificial intelligence of things), and it already exists in our daily lives but we seldom recognize it. Think Google Maps, Netflix, Siri and Alexa, for example.

AIoT is creating new value for organizations across a broad spectrum of industries – from manufacturers and retailers, to energy, smart cities, health care, and beyond.

And more organizations are taking notice. Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 80 percent of enterprise IoT projects will include an AI component, up from only 10 percent today.

So, how can you realize success with AIoT?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

IIoT Platforms, Not All created Equal

This blog is a MESA Member Point of View

By Gerhard Greeff, MESA EMEA Board Member

In the past few years, solution providers have often been asked to assist in creating an Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy. Our answer has always been, and will continue to be…

What is the business problem to be solved or the outcome to be achieved?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Continuous Asset Optimization 4.0

By Dr. Ananth Seshan, Chairman of the MESA Continuous Asset Optimization Working Group

This blog is a MESA Member Point of View.

What does sub-optimal performance of your asset cost your business? Can you really afford to ignore the hidden, but ever-growing cost? 

Unplanned downtime is still one of the predominant costs in a manufacturing operation notwithstanding the advancements in predictive and condition-based maintenance. Even though the focus of proactive maintenance has been to: (a) catch the symptoms of failure early, (b) using past experience and some domain knowledge, infer the probable causes from the symptoms and, (c) taking proactive actions to prevent the failure, only limited success has been achieved from the previous generation predictive maintenance approaches. Why?

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Be an IoT Data Super Hero: Ingest, Understand, and Act to Accelerate Business Outcomes using the Cloud

By Jane Howell, MESA Americas Board Member

This blog is a MESA Member Point of View.

If you’re a data scientist, you know the pressure to help your business understand the signals hidden in the vast and diverse stream of IoT data.  Businesses need to decipher these signals so they can deliver critical outcomes to enhance the customer experience, improve equipment effectiveness, and drive operational excellence.

But if you’re using batch scoring and various techniques to analyze data at rest, you’re hamstrung by the need to stream, store, and then score the data.  Not only is it very time consuming, but it also delays your ability to make decisions in real time which hampers the business’ ability to accelerate performance.

What steps can you take to rapidly convert IoT data into valuable insights for your business?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

12 Benefits of Using Standards in the Design and Implementation of iMOM Projects

This blog is peer-reviewed by the MESA's Process Industries Working Group

By Stan DeVries, MESA member of the Process Industries Working Group

Download the supplemental guidebook: MESA Process Industries Guidebook: Adopting Integrated Manufacturing Operations Management (iMOM) in Oil & Gas and Petrochemical Industries, Leveraging Digital Technologies and Industry 4.0 Framework and join the public LinkedIn Group MESA iMOM for the Process Industries

In integrated Manufacturing Operations Management (iMOM), the ultimate goal of using software systems is to increase and sustain business benefits. In theory, this goal could be achieved by working with a single software vendor throughout the project lifecycle. In practice, though, single vendor approaches are not the best approach for the following reasons:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Behind The Scenes: MESA's Outstanding Contribution Winners

A big congratulations to MESA's 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award winners! We captured the awards at recent events on our World Tour.

These thought leaders help drive MESA programs like education, training, research and overall help important discussions happen between committees and professionals. Help celebrate these winners by sharing this blog post or the press release.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Hidden Treasures in Plain Sight – At the Manufacturer’s Shelf

By Conrad Leiva, Chair of MESA's Smart Manufacturing Working Group

Download ‘MESA/Gartner Business Value of MES Survey 17’ results.  |  This blog is a MESA Member Point of View

There are hidden treasures at the manufacturer’s shelf and we are not talking about the inventory shelf. We are talking in this article about the IT shelf of already owned software that is not being used. More specifically about the Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) or Manufacturing Execution System (MES) software the company purchased a few years back that hasn’t been deployed to its full capabilities.

Gartner has recently published some interesting results from a joint survey with MESA International — results that validate this premise. [1] Figure 1 below (Figure 4 in the report) shows that even though most companies have achieved the expected return on investment (ROI), they still believe that there is more value to capture with their MES.
Value from MES

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Slow Yet Steady Progress Towards Smart Manufacturing -- Will you be prepared?

By Conrad Leiva, Chair of MESA's Smart Manufacturing Working Group

This blog is MESA Peer Reviewed

The manufacturing industry continues to make progress towards the vision of a fourth industrial revolution—a  vision of revolutionary productivity increase. How? Through the the higher levels of automation, orchestration and optimization enabled by Smart Manufacturing’s higher levels of connectivity and data transparency from each resource, plant and partner in the new manufacturing ecosystem.

In the Figure 1 below, we compare results from 2017 survey data compiled by IndustryWeek and MESA International [1] to results from a 2018 poll running at MESA International’s website [2]. At first glance,  it might seem that the number of Smart Manufacturing projects implemented are going down, but that  decrease in percentage is explained by an increase in the percentage of companies planning and researching the topic and a decrease in the percentage of companies not doing anything.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Leveraging Cloud Services for Smart Manufacturing

This blog is MESA Peer Reviewed

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

Download the supplemental White Paper: Smart Manufacturing and Cloud Computing

Smart Manufacturing is not solely about optimizing production of goods, it is about creating positive value streams for everyone involved in the production process and creating valuable experiences and services for the end customer. Smart Manufacturing includes visibility and interoperability among systems, departments and partner companies, as well as a decentralized decision-making framework for the value chain. The endeavor encompasses suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers, as well as customers and customers’ customers.

Cloud Computing is one of the information technology (IT) stacks that are helping achieve the Smart Manufacturing goals. Organizations have access today to many combinations of technologies and software as-a-service whether they want to embrace a full or hybrid cloud infrastructure model. The availability of quality cloud component services that are easy to assemble into a custom application is even changing the shape of the IT department as it becomes easier for non-IT experts to assemble cloud services into custom apps. In many organizations, the IT department’s focus has shifted from developing, installing, and supporting software applications, to providing guidelines and a framework for assembling integrated enterprise applications. 

The question should not be whether a manufacturing system will be on the cloud, but instead figuring out how much of the manufacturing system will be on the cloud to maximize the benefits to each organization and its customers. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Why Companies of All Sizes Should Consider Cloud Computing for Smart Manufacturing

This blog is MESA Peer Reviewed

By Srivats Ramaswami, Member of MESA’s Smart Manufacturing Working Group and a Member of MESA’s International Board

Download the supplemental White Paper: Smart Manufacturing and Cloud Computing

Does the size of the company matter when using Cloud Computing for Smart Manufacturing? The short answer is no. A cloud-based Smart Manufacturing strategy is very much going to be driven by business needs and technology adoption appetite. With that said, Cloud Computing offers some significant benefits for Smart Manufacturing. The following are elements of Cloud Computing to be considered whether you are a small, medium or large company.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Road Less Traveled: The Journey Toward Industrie 4.0

This blog is a MESA Member Point of View

By John Clemons, International Board Member at Large, Americas Board Member, and Marketing Committee Chair of MESA International

Join MESA at Industry of Things World Berlin this September and get 35% off using code: MESAIoTDS.

By the end of last century, we thought we had lost manufacturing. It was old, smelly, and looked like a dinosaur just waiting to die. But Industrie 4.0 holds the potential to transform manufacturing back into an economic powerhouse. 

Unlike earlier technology, Industrie 4.0 is fundamentally transforming how manufacturing companies compete. These new connected technologies increase speed, agility, and flexibility throughout a company’s value chain.

With Industrie 4.0 strategies, companies gain powerful capabilities to drive competitive advantage. Factories cut costs, reduce time-to-delivery, and increase order accuracy. With the right leadership, businesses will capture market share, enter new markets, and boost margins.

The Industrie 4.0 Roadmap from MESA International provides manufacturing companies with a guide for their Industrie 4.0 journey and a framework for building detailed plans to achieve their Industrie 4.0 goals: