Monday, March 22, 2021

Smart Manufacturing – So Much More than Technology

 Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Roberto Giavazzi, MESA EMEA Board Member

MESA, Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, was originally created as the Manufacturing Execution System Association some 30+ years ago. MESA was an overnight success through the creation of the original MES model which even today remains in use in every country in the world doing any level of manufacturing at all.

But the MES space evolved and so did MESA. Today the manufacturing world is abuzz with Smart Manufacturing, which are being driven by new technologies and new paradigms for manufacturing.

Today, Smart Manufacturing is looking beyond the technology, and beyond MES, to the supply chain, quality assurance, engineering, research and development, and many other areas, not just production.

As Roberto Giavazzi, a member of the MESA EMEA Board of Directors, says, “Smart Manufacturing requires a comprehensive look at the product lifecycle. It involves research and development, engineering, production, and the supply chain. It’s about understanding the gaps between as-engineered and as-built, between as-planned and as-produced, and between as-designed and as-utilized. These are all the crucial aspects that are key to Smart Manufacturing.”

MESA is developing a new MESA model focused on Smart Manufacturing. It builds on the existing MESA MES models but goes far beyond MES to focus on the breadth and depth of Smart Manufacturing.

Despite the promises of Smart Manufacturing, the landscape is more crowded than ever with everyone claiming to have the one “silver bullet” technology that generates all the benefits of Smart Manufacturing. Since no one really has a “silver bullet” there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world of Smart Manufacturing with no clear guidance at all.

And that’s where MESA and the new MESA model comes in. As Roberto says, “MESA is providing guidance in all the uncertainty around Smart Manufacturing. MESA is providing practitioners with confidence that they are heading in the right direction and not making any major mistakes. MESA is playing the role of the trusted advisor, and neutral advisor, providing clear guidance on what works and what doesn’t work, and why, in the world of Smart Manufacturing.”

This guidance from MESA is taking many forms. The cornerstone for guidance for Smart Manufacturing is the new MESA model, which is intended to cover the entire landscape of Smart Manufacturing by providing guidance, knowledge, examples, and above all else, practical advice on Smart Manufacturing from the perspective of technologies, capabilities, and lifecycles.

But, fundamentally it’s not about the technologies, as Roberto explains. “There’s so many new technologies coming together right now, and the synergy of those technologies is one of the key drivers for Smart Manufacturing. But Smart Manufacturing is fundamentally not about the technologies and people can’t rely on the technologies for their success with Smart Manufacturing. After all, everyone can buy the same technologies, but some companies succeed, and some companies fail. Ultimately, it’s about so much more than the technologies.”

Roberto is correct. It’s about so much more than the technologies. Namely, what you can do with the technologies. It’s about capabilities to meet the customer’s need. It’s about agility to respond quickly to changes in demand. It’s about being customer focused to make sure your products are really meeting the customer’s needs and solving their problems.

These elements are what will make or break any Smart Manufacturing initiative. Not the technology. The technology works. It’s what you do with the technology. It’s what the technology does for you and your company. That’s the secret to Smart Manufacturing. And that the focus of MESA and the new MESA model.

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


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