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.

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