Friday, July 10, 2015

Are Your MES/MOM Skills Recognized?

 By Patrick Weber, MESA International Technical and Education Committee member

Plant floor systems used to be simpler things: relay-driven machine logic, counters and gauges that human operators could read and record values on their clipboards, control panels with numerous indicator lights showing what was happening at any given time.  But automation has evolved from those roots: industrial controllers have replaced relays, graphical HMIs with touch screens have replaced the lighted panels, and networks now exchange information between production equipment and enterprise systems – eliminating the need for a human with a clipboard, but also enabling new capabilities throughout the entire value chain.  This evolution has led to the development of a new body of knowledge, often referred to as Manufacturing Operations Management, or MOM. Many of today’s industry initiatives – such as “smart manufacturing”, “digital thread”, “real-time enterprise”, “connected enterprise”, and “Industrie 4.0” – are deeply rooted in MOM.

What does this mean for leaders in the manufacturing space? In the current environment, executives need to ensure that both their internal people and external consultants are familiar with this evolving body of knowledge.  Just as with certifications such as Project Management Professional or Certified Business Analyst, hiring managers should be able to request candidates that are recognized by a professional body with extensive understanding of manufacturing operations management. Until recently, there haven’t been good options available for identifying individuals with a solid understanding of MOM.  But on May 6th 2015, MESA International announced a practitioner recognition program to do just that. MESA-recognized practitioners are members of the MESA organization who have not only completed an intensive MOM training program but who also regularly contribute to the ongoing growth of the body of knowledge through participation in MESA’s committees and working groups.

So what are some of the things a MESA-recognized practitioner knows? Here’s just a partial list:
  • Manufacturing operations standards and relationships to strategic initiatives
  • Adaptive manufacturing architecture
  • The relationship of MES/MOM to continuous improvement and supply chain initiatives
  • Transformation strategy including maturity and road mapping models
  • MES/MOM implementation and governance
  • Metrics frameworks
  • MES/MOM justification
  • MES/MOM project management techniques
Note these knowledge areas are different from what a typical controls engineer faces daily, but a MOM practitioner must have a working comprehension of the controls environment, continuous improvement practices, business processes (particularly in the areas of quality, safety, and maintenance) as well as an understanding of the IT landscape.
For a consultant (like myself), being a MESA-recognized practitioner will provide additional credibility beyond personal experience.  A MESA recognition carries a lot of weight; for those unfamiliar, MESA International is an association of manufacturing companies, solution providers, integrators, and consultants focused on delivering business results from manufacturing information technology. MESA is a recognized authority in this field; its white papers and other publications are frequently cited in trade publications, by industry analysts, and by a variety of consulting organizations. Their MES/MOM training is a comprehensive overview of the existing body of knowledge, and their committees and working groups are involved in the development and expansion of this knowledge.
The MESA-recognized practitioner program will establish an industry baseline for excellence in manufacturing operations management systems.  It will not only ensure that practitioners have been tested in the MES/MOM body of knowledge, but that they are also actively participating in the growth of that body. And that, in the long run, will be a very good thing for the industry.
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