Friday, February 9, 2018

The Importance of Standards for Smart Manufacturing

This blog is a MESA Point of View.

By Mike Hannah, Member of MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group

Ever wonder how difficult life would be without standards? Consider the importance of standards on our everyday lives.

How do our credit cards and phones work almost anywhere in the world?  How are we able to watch videos on virtually every computer, TV and mobile device we have?  How do we know the toys we buy our children are safe? Or that the food we are buying is safe for us to eat? – STANDARDS
It's easy to take them for granted, but standards help organizations develop, manufacture and supply goods and services in a more efficient, safer and sustainable way.

Technology innovation, economic and political forces are creating great interest on Smart Manufacturing and the need to promote connectivity standards in the manufacturing ecosystem. Governments around the world have realized that manufacturing is a major contributor to their GDP and is critical for their national competitiveness in the global economy.

To that end, many have created national initiatives. For example, Germany launched Industrie 4.0, The United States sponsors Manufacturing USA, China promotes it’s Made in China 2025, Korea calls it Manufacturing Innovation 3.0, and France named their initiative Industrie du Futur.  The UK, Sweden, Japan, India, and many other countries all have country-specific efforts as well.

What they all have in common however, is creating a vision and strategy for Smart Manufacturing supporting manufacturers’ digital business transformation to drive reduced capex, improved time to market, reduced inventory and improved productivity. All these initiatives are extending existing standards to enable new ways to thread business processes within the factory and the entire industry value chain.  Countries and companies around the world are eager to adopt digitalization strategies and standardization because it levels the playing field for smaller companies, so they can reap the same benefits as bigger companies and remain globally competitive and relevant.
Note that these initiatives are not creating new standards, they are classifying how best to use existing standards, identifying gaps, and coordinating with working groups in place to close those gaps.  These initiatives are performing an important motivation, influence, and leadership role, but the actual evolution of standards for Smart Manufacturing is being done in standard developing organizations like IEEE, IEC, ISO, and ISA.

It is important for organizations to be involved and participate in the development of standards that will shape the future of technological development. Besides benefitting the industry, leading and participating in the most impactful standards can enhance the reputation of organizations. Maintaining an active role also helps to mitigate the potential risks of falling behind on the adoption of important industry standards. Organizations should include standards participation as a part of their strategic goals.


Any digitalization or connected enterprise deployment and strategy will leverage the best of the international standards that define Smart Manufacturing today. If you look only at one country’s initiative you’ll have a limited view of the global movement. You must look at global standards to understand global impact.

So rather than the name of the initiative that differentiates the work, it’s the standards behind that initiative that make the difference.  National initiatives and industry consortia are monitored and enhanced so you can leverage the best of future international standards as they emerge.  From your manufacturing or industrial operations standpoint, this allows you to be more productive, more sustainable and more flexible.

For additional reading on this topic, please download the following resource from MESA International:
“MESA White Paper #58 - The Importance of Standards for Smart Manufacturing”

About the Author 

Mike Hannah has been leading the Connected Enterprise and Smart Manufacturing initiative at Rockwell Automation.  He originally joined Rockwell Automation in 1990 and advanced into roles of increasing responsibility including heading the Networking and Infrastructure business.

Hannah is also an active member of MESA’s Smart Manufacturing Working Group and The Industrial IP Advantage consortium, whose objectives are to work with industrial clients to help them realize the benefits of IIoT technologies to drive new business opportunities.

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