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.

We are encouraged by the fact that there is a higher percentage of companies working on Smart Manufacturing. Yet we still see a lot of work ahead since many companies are just getting started with their first projects or are in the planning and research phases. 

Figure 1. Contrasting MESA/IW 2017 Survey with recent MESA International 2018 poll on Smart Manufacturing initiatives

Is this a normal rate of progress for such a revolution? Or is there something slowing us down? Perhaps a question to explore in MESA’s next poll question. Please visit and answer the poll on the homepage: What is your company’s top challenge slowing down progress towards Smart Manufacturing? The top answer so far is 'Lack of knowledge of new technology and integration capabilities.'

MESA International is a great source of information to help get your efforts started. Check out many free resources at MESA’s Smart Manufacturing page and join the open Smart Manufacturing Community at the links below.  
MESA’s Smart Manufacturing Resources Page: 
MESA’s Smart Manufacturing Community Page: 
[1] “Seeking Common Ground for Smart Manufacturing – 2018 Survey Report”, IYNO and MESA International, 2018
[2] Involvement in Smart Manufacturing Poll, MESA International website, 2019

About the Author
Conrad Leiva is VP Product Strategy and Alliances at iBASEt. Conrad consults many Aerospace & Defense companies on how to streamline the paperwork and information flow among Planning, Inventory, Quality, Production and Supply Chain disciplines. Recently, his work has focused on manufacturing intelligence and the digital thread between engineering, business, and manufacturing systems working with PLM and ERP partners. Conrad is on the International Board of Directors at MESA International and is Chairman of the MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group.

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