Monday, March 8, 2021

Smart Manufacturing – Protect Your Existing Investment

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Raffaello Lepratti, MESA International Board Member

If you’ve been reading these blog posts, you know that MESA, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, is developing a new MESA model specifically for Smart Manufacturing. MESA has built its reputation on the models it’s created, especially the original MESA MES model that’s still in use in the MES space around the world.

But this new Smart Manufacturing model is different. And more challenging. I caught up with Raffaello Lepratti, a member of the MESA International Board of Directors, to ask him what was different about this model.

Raffaello had this to say. “A new model for Smart Manufacturing is a must to support manufacturers’ challenges of today and their preparedness for the future (including next-generation workforce development). But the new model cannot be rigid and cannot be monolithic. MESA has embraced this and is building a model that is designed to be flexible and agile, just like Smart Manufacturing is supposed to be.”

I went on to ask Raffaello why a new model was required. After all, there seems like there’s lot of models out there already. In fact, it seems everyone has some kind of Smart Manufacturing model. Why not just pick one and go with it?

Raffaello has this to say in response. “A new model is really crucial to support manufacturers digital transformation journey. For example, we need more clarity of terminology, methodology, and incremental steps to realize Smart Manufacturing, but right now there’s lots of confusion even about the basics of Smart Manufacturing. Said another way, there’s lots of noise and proliferation of technologies in the marketplace and people who are working full-time in this space are simply having a hard time keeping up with everything that’s going on.”

Rightly said by Raffaello, there is confusion in the marketplace, or noise as he calls it. People are misunderstanding what Smart Manufacturing is or even how different technologies fit together and how to practically realize it. Whether it’s IIoT, digital twin, digital thread, cloud, RFID, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, or even MES, people are having a hard time seeing how it all fits together. And an even harder time seeing what a real-world solution could even look like.

I asked Raffaello how the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model is going to be different and how it will help this situation. Raffaello says, “the new MESA model will not be rigid, and it will not be monolithic. Fundamental to the new MESA model will be idea of selecting the right solution for the situation. Many companies have significant investments in IT and OT solutions in this space and they want to protect those investments and build on them. Not tear them down and start over. And they want to do it step-by-step, not all at once. The new MESA model will show people a path forward that gets them where they want to go while protecting their existing investments.”

I then asked Raffaello if the new MESA model was only about the technology. He said, “No. Of course not. Smart Manufacturing is not about technology. Sure, there’s lots of technology coming together to make Smart Manufacturing a reality. But it’s really not about the technology rather capabilities and lifecycles with practicality to realize the steps.”

“Many people see Smart Manufacturing as IT and OT and software but it’s really not. What Smart Manufacturing is really about business strategies and people and processes. It’s about your digital transformation. But since everything is digital today, a digital transformation is really a business transformation. It’s about building your business strategies, empowering your teams, and streamlining your processes, and then, and only then, providing the right technology to support those strategies, people, and processes. That’s what Smart Manufacturing is all about and that’s what the new MESA model is all about.”

Stay tuned for more on the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

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