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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cybersecurity – No Silver Bullets

By Alan Grau, Member of MESA International’s Cybersecurity Working Group

Cybersecurity continues to be a focus of concern for manufacturing and industrial systems. It is critical to find solutions for protecting the plant floor.  The threat landscape, as described in the March MESA cybersecurity blog, continues to evolve.  Attacks are becoming more focused and more sophisticated and unfortunately, more successful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Smart Manufacturing and the Continuing Need for MES

By Luigi De Bernardini, member of MESA’s Marketing Committee and Smart Manufacturing Working Group

The phrase “smart manufacturing” has been heard everywhere this past year, and has become part of every discussion related to manufacturers’ need for a manufacturing execution system (MES) or manufacturing operations management (MOM). Some might be under the impression that smart manufacturing has done away with the need for MES to support the coordination of operations processes, but in my opinion that is not the case.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Smart Manufacturing Elevator Pitch – Take Two

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

In a prior blog post, Rik Geerts explained how MESA International came up with an abbreviated definition for Smart Manufacturing and how he tried it out with a colleague in the food processing industry. I want to share some of the back story on the Working Group side of the story and my own experience trying out the elevator pitch in a totally different industry -- aerospace and defense. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Smart Manufacturing Elevator Pitch, Literally!

By Rik Geerts, member of several MESA International working groups and member of the International Board of Directors. 

I was wearing my MESA International pin this morning in the elevator and one of my colleagues, John the Lead of the Chicken Business Unit, asked me what I was working on at MESA. I told him “Smart Manufacturing.” With big eyes he looked at me and said, “I’m curious, what is Smart Manufacturing?” … I struggled … the elevator door saved me. John said while walking out, “Lets catch-up later Rik!” 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to Deliver an Executable Manufacturing Strategy for Continuous Process Industry

By Jaco van der Merwe, IME Solutions 

Operations Management is one leg of Production Economics and relates to the deployment and use of resources to transform inputs to useful output. In this, Manufacturing Strategy offers a structured approach to decision-making facilitating economic performance within the operating environment. 

Operations management is defined as the planning, scheduling and control of processes, systems and people to produce final product(s) that comply with quality, environmental, cost, and production output requirements. From this it is clear that operations management is concerned with the tactical action plan whereas manufacturing strategy is concerned with providing longer term guidelines.

This blog describes the use of Time-in-State in deriving an executable manufacturing strategy and subsequently facilitating effective operations management. This blog addresses one of the most challenging environments -- the continuous process industry.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Cybersecurity in Manufacturing: What? Why? How? And How Much?

By Chris Hamilton, Cybersecurity Working Group Member
Figure 1- Cybersecurity: Changing Threat Landscape

In your day-to-day routine, how focused are you on topics of cybersecurity?  Do you follow exploits published by SANS, ICS-CERT, etc and relish in unique 0-Day findings? Or, do you passively hear of hacks on the news and think, “I’m glad that wasn’t my company!”  For most of us, the answer would be the latter. However, the scale of attacks on the manufacturing sector and proportional loss to businesses in recent years has demonstrated the necessity of secure integrated control systems. 

The constantly shifting threat landscape can be daunting to follow – and it shows – in fact, the 2016 Vormetric Data Threat Report states that, “64% of IT execs think achieving basic compliance will stop most breaches.” With the increasing nation-state threat, breaches are becoming more sophisticated and creating APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) with new levels of potency.  

The “script-kiddies” of yesterday, taking advantage of single exploits, have grown up to become a highly trained, educated and government-sponsored team of professionals.  This team is dedicated to stealing a target’s IP (intellectual property) and/or using that company’s weaknesses to damage an entire industry.  The scale is massive, and the threat is real.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Smart Manufacturing Isn’t So Smart Without Standards

By Simon Frechette, KC Morris, and Yan Lu (NIST)

Manufacturers face ever-increasing demands of variability—greater customization, smaller lot sizes, sudden supply-chain changes and disruptions. Successful manufacturers will need to incorporate new technologies that help them quickly adapt to rapid change and to elevate product quality while optimizing use of energy and other resources. These technologies form the core of emerging “smart” manufacturing systems. 

Smart manufacturing is composed of information-centric systems that maximize the flow and re-use of data throughout an enterprise. Manufacturing enterprises today, both large and small, are made up of disparate components. The ability of these disparate systems to exchange, understand, and exploit product, production, and business data rests critically on information standards. 

Smart Manufacturing Systems (SMS) are driving unprecedented gains in production agility, quality, and efficiency. Smart manufacturing defines a vision of next-generation manufacturing with enhanced capabilities. It is built on IoT and digital technology, but enabled by combining the individual manufacturing technologies. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

5 Elements of KPI Lifecycle

By John Horst, MESA member, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
and Barry Ezell,Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) 

Humans go through distinct phases of life: from dependence to learning to producing to sharing and back to dependence. We call this a lifecycle. The phases of life keep repeating as new persons are born and the elderly complete their lives. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) also have a lifecycle with a similarly cyclic pattern: from definition to collection to set composition to implementation to assessment and back to definition

Manufacturers who use KPIs naturally implement this lifecycle, but there is some real value to clearly and carefully articulate the elements of the lifecycle. 

An accurate and detailed model of the KPI Lifecycle:
  • Enables efficient and effective performance management 
  • Enables a cottage industry of performance methods and software tools
  • Provides a basis for open standards on KPI use
Assuming the target proceses have been identified, here is an outline of five elements to consider to successfully use KPIs in your manufacturing process throughout their entire lifecycle. 

How to Find Value in KPI Lifecycle

By John Horst, MESA member, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
and Barry Ezell,Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are part of a lifecycle because KPIs are continuously defined, redefined, and are even sometimes abandoned. Explicitly defining a KPI Lifecycle provides an impetus for the development of methods and tools that enhance performance.  

NIST and VMASC have designed two methods to define KPI Lifecylce: one for performing KPI Set Composition, and the other for KPI Assessment.  

Both methods need to produce accurate results. But how can we know that the methods are producing accurate results --thereby providing real value to the manufacturer?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Achieve Smart Manufacturing

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

This article was originally published on IndustryWeek IdeaXchange ( on Dec 31, 2015.

For more information on Smart Manufacturing, if you are a member, check out the white paper "Smart Manufacturing - The Landscape Explained".
In the 1970s and 80s we witnessed a revolutionary wave of productivity improvements in manufacturing. New technologies, including personal computers (PCs), numerically controlled (NC) machines, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and computer aided manufacturing (CAM), combined with new process improvement ideas like Total Quality Management (TQM), Just-In-Time, and Six Sigma yielded new levels of productivity and efficiency in many manufacturing industries.  
In this decade, we are seeing a convergence of technologies and process improvement initiatives of a similar scale with the potential to radically improve the way manufacturers thread processes and systems in the enterprise and the way they deliver customization and services to customers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Questions to Ask to Speed Monetization of Product Innovations

Mike K Williams, MESA ERM Working Group member

Here is a short list of questions to ask yourself if you are looking to accelerate the monetization of product and material innovations.

  1. Have you ever been frustrated by a lack of information you have about your plant’s capability to produce a new product or material, otherwise known as the process fit? 
  2. Have you ever missed a production order or produced off-grade material because the recipe generated in R&D and approved for sale, does not quite match the plant floor configuration?  
  3. Have you ever lost a new sales opportunity because of the excessive time it takes to coordinate all the necessary information and approvals for new or updated recipes to meet the promise date? 
  4. Do you have multiple manufacturing sites which produce the same product but are not identical in equipment capability?
  5. Would you like to have more agility in your manufacturing sites to take advantage of underutilized assets?

If you have any of these situations, you should be interested in Enterprise Recipe Management (ERM). It is a vehicle to expedite the New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI) work process and thus monetize innovation more quickly.

One of the challenges in achieving this objective is resolving the discontinuity between traditional ERP-based PLM solutions and shop floor information and control systems.  To successfully manufacture a product one must know both WHAT to produce (composition of matter) as well as HOW to produce it (procedure and control constraints). 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Asset Performance Management 2.0: Stakeholders Rule

By Mike K Williams, MESA APM Working Group member

Asset Performance Management (APM) is a well-used term with varied meaning based on whom you ask.  It can span the spectrum of solution space from device monitoring and diagnostics, to equipment reliability and condition-based maintenance, to overall equipment effectiveness reporting, to IS0 55000 management systems.  All of which address different stakeholders with different objectives and scorecards.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How to Survive the Changing Workforce Apocalypse

By Mike Hannah, MESA International Smart Manufacturing Working Group member

Manufacturers that adopt programs to address changes in IT, technology, and workforce will find themselves with a long-term competitive advantage. Those that do not, risk the apocalypse and joining the long list of companies that couldn’t change with the times.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

5 Hurdles to Smart Manufacturing

By Brad Williams, MESA International Smart Manufacturing Working Group member

Manufacturing generates more data than any other industry.  New levels of connectivity, advanced computing, smarter sensors and devices, and improved data access and storage are increasing the breadth, volume, and resolution of available data. If you listen to the big data hype, the assumption is that business value can be derived if data can be harnessed. In the future, manufacturing companies will gather more data  -- but will they use it effectively? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Smart Manufacturing: What if they threw a revolution and nobody came?

By Patrick Weber, MESA International Technical and Education Committee member and MESA-Recognized Practitioner

Pizza party at your house, I went just to check it out
Nineteen extra larges, what a shame, no one came