Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Order to Cash Lifecycle and the New MESA Model – Part 2

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Katerina Yamalidou, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

The new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model has a section on the order to cash lifecycle. The order to cash lifecycle might not be thought of as pertaining directly to manufacturing operations, but when you think about it, you realize the order to cash lifecycle intersects with all the other manufacturing lifecycles: product, production, production assets, personnel, and supply chain.

Understanding those intersections is key to understanding the complete Smart Manufacturing picture. So, despite what some people may think, including the order to cash lifecycle in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model actually makes a lot of sense.

Let’s continue our look at some of the questions that’s going to be answered in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model about the order to cash lifecycle.

“How do we source our own requirements, taking into account vendor performance in terms of cost and reliability?” Vendor performance is in a state of flux. Many aspects of vendor performance have been impacted by the pandemic. But you have to meet your customer demands and blaming problems on your vendors isn’t a good answer.

“How do we optimize the capture of goods into our systems, to ensure immediate availability for production purposes?” There’s a lot of challenges to unpack in this question. And if you think there’s an easy answer you probably don’t really understand the question. Speed and agility are the ultimate answers but that’s always easier said than done.

“How can we capture information on the production floor, to support real-time decision-making?” The question here isn’t really “how” because there’s lots of ways to capture data. The issues are how capture the right data, how to turn that data into information, and how to get the right data to the right people at the right time so they can make the right decisions in a timely manner.

“How do we make use of real-time production and process information to predict potential quality deviations?” Real-time production and process information is vital to managing the manufacturing operations. But using it to make predictions is taking it to a whole new level. Again, there’s some good technology available in the Smart Manufacturing toolkit to help us here.

“For industries where production throughput is dependent on the size of the work force, how can we dynamically plan resources in the most efficient and effective way?” Work force issues continue to plague the manufacturing industries. It wasn’t enough that the workforce was, and still is aging, dramatically with key manufacturing knowledge walking out the door at the retirement party. Now, with the pandemic, resources and staffing are more difficult than ever and there’s no light at the end of this tunnel anytime soon.

“How can we speed up the process where material produced on the plant floor becomes available in the dispatch system, as soon as it leaves the plant floor?” Again, there’s a lot of challenges to unpack in this question. And no easy answers. Speed and agility continue to be ultimate answers but getting there is the difficult part.

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model is under development and will be released soon. It has sections on the product, production, production assets, personnel, and supply chain lifecycles. And it has a section on the order to cash lifecycle.

If you’re intrigued by the questions being addressed by the section on the order to cash lifecycle, then the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model is for you.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Order to Cash Lifecycle and the New MESA Model – Part 1

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Katerina Yamalidou, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

When MESA International started work on the new Smart Manufacturing Model, the question came up pretty quickly as to whether or not the order to cash lifecycle was going to be covered in the model. After all, the order to cash lifecycle isn’t usually associated directly with the manufacturing operations.

But when you get into the details of the order to cash lifecycle you find that it intersects with all the other lifecycles: product, production, production assets, personnel, and supply chain. Understanding its interaction with the other lifecycles was necessary to understanding the complete Smart Manufacturing picture. So deciding to include the order to cash lifecycle in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model was actually pretty easy.

Let’s take look at some of the questions that’s going to be answered in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model about the order to cash lifecycle.

“How can we eliminate duplicate and manual efforts in data entry and retrieval across all the stages of the order to cash lifecycle?” You might not think duplicate data entry and manual data would still be an issue today. But it is. And not just in the order to cash lifecycle. The problem is quite common in all the manufacturing lifecycles.

“How can order/client/cost information be available throughout the lifecycle, based on roles and responsibilities?” Having visibility to the customer, the customer requirements, and into the actual costs is absolutely essential if manufacturing operations are to be tailored for specific customers and optimized to achieve the lowest reasonable costs.

“How can we dynamically accept orders, based on client prominence, production capability and material availability?” This is a difficult question with no easy answers. But there are answers. It means optimizing around capability and availability and prioritizing customers. Doing that requires a level of manufacturing agility that is not common at all in the industry.

“How can we dynamically engage with credit agencies to ensure that product shipment doesn’t happen to clients unable to pay?” This may be thought of as a bit outside normal manufacturing concerns, but when you think about it you see the intersection into production. And you also know that manufacturing operations are having to take a much bigger perspective of the enterprise than just manufacturing.

“How can we dynamically optimize our production schedules for maximum profitability, maximum throughput, minimum changeover times and maximum production efficiencies?” That’s a lot to maximize and, again, there’s no easy answers. But there are some very strong approaches to optimizing all these components. But it requires a level of operational excellence coupled with an extreme level of agility to even begin to think about optimizing these disparate measures.

“How can we use technology to calculate, based on incomplete information when and how much material needs to be purchased, in order to satisfy the sales forecast?” There’s lots of great technology in the Smart Manufacturing toolkit. But, as you would expect, the technology all needs lots of data to drive it. In fact, data is the fundamental engine behind all the Smart Manufacturing technology. So, what do you do with incomplete information? Take a look at the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model to get some ideas.

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model is under development and will be released soon. It has sections on the product, production, production assets, personnel, and supply chain lifecycles. And it has a section on the order to cash lifecycle.

If you’re intrigued by the questions being addressed by the section on the order to cash lifecycle, then the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model is for you.

Stay tuned for more on the order to cash lifecycle.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Product Lifecycle in the New MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Chris Monchinski, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

At this point, it’s not new news that MESA International is developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model. It covers a lot of ground with chapters on the lifecycles of supply chain, personnel, order to cash, product, production, and production assets.

The fundamental purpose of the new Smart Manufacturing Model is not to be descriptive in explaining Smart Manufacturing, but to be prescriptive by providing recommendations on how people can be smarter in their manufacturing endeavors.

I recently got a chance to talk with Chris Monchinski, who’s heading up the Product Lifecycle team. He told me what’s going to be in the product lifecycle chapter of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

He said, “the biggest challenge with managing the product lifecycle is that it’s so intertwined with all the other lifecycles. It intersects with engineering, operations, R&D, product development, supply chain, sales, marketing, NPDI, PLM, contract manufacturing, and on and on and on. It pretty much touches every other lifecycle in manufacturing.”

The main objective of the chapter of the new model is to help people be smart in managing their product lifecycle. This idea is to support the enablement of the constantly evolving view of the product. With this view, the idea is to optimize the product at each point in the product lifecycle.

Managing the product lifecycle is particularly challenging for manufacturing operations. The operations team must be able to constantly change its manufacturing approach as the lifecycle of the product continually develops and matures.

One of the reasons this is especially challenging to manufacturing operations is the overall manufacturing approach must constantly change as the product develops and matures. The approach that manufacturing operations must take is different when the product is being developed, becoming mature, is mature, is expanding, is growing, is past its prime, and is nearing retirement. And that’s not to mention product enhancements, product extensions, product variations, and product customizations. These situations are all challenging, requiring different manufacturing approaches.

Ultimately, it's all about the interaction of the product lifecycle with all the other lifecycles. The fundamental issue is this interaction. Fortunately, there’s lots of elements of Smart Manufacturing that enable this interaction. Elements such as big data, AI, IIoT, simulation, digital twins, digital threads, MES systems, descriptive and predictive analytics, just to name a few.

One aspect that Chris mentioned is the need for data. Chris said, “to optimize the product lifecycle, manufacturing operations must have data on all aspects of the product. They use that data to react faster to the continually changing lifecycle of the product. They must have data on everything about the product. One aspect of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model is about trying to get manufacturing the data they need about the product, so they can optimize manufacturing, and optimize the product lifecycle.” 

That’s just one part of the product lifecycle chapter of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model. This chapter is on the product lifecycle and there’s chapters on many other key aspects of manufacturing operations. They aren’t academic and they’re not descriptive. They’re practical and prescriptive, dealing with how we can be smart in the real world.

Stay tuned for more looks into the chapters of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Making the Production Asset Lifecycle Smarter – Part 3

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Ananth Seshan, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

One of the chapters of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model covers the production asset lifecycle and how we can make the production asset lifecycle smarter. Here’s a look at a few final smart ideas included on this topic in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model.

Energy Intensity

Energy consumption is always a major cost of a production asset; however, more than energy consumption, energy intensity must be measured and optimized. Energy intensity is the metric that measures per unit energy consumption in the presence of varying production demand.

Traditionally, energy consumption is rarely tracked at the asset level and energy intensity is rarely calculated at the asset level. Usually because of the difficulty of getting the actual energy usage information for the asset.

With the advent of Smart Manufacturing, the IIoT, and Smart Sensors, it’s now possible to get energy consumption data and production data directly from the asset. This means that energy usage and energy intensity can be captured and calculated in real-time which provides the data to optimize the energy usage and energy intensity of an asset.

Maintenance Personnel

MTTR, mean time to repair, must be reduced. To achieve this, the repair must be performed effectively and efficiently. Most times, maintenance personnel identify the failure only after arriving at the asset, have to evaluate if spare parts are required, and then have to get them from the warehouse. Once the spare parts are replaced, the asset has to be tested and once it’s satisfactory, the maintenance personnel return to the main office to enter the records and close the work order.

With the advent of Smart Manufacturing practices, the above activities can be automated and a significant reduction in the time to repair can be achieved. Mobile apps can make the maintenance personnel aware of the maintenance problem along with the fault, or item that must be repaired, and the remedial actions to be taken, long before they arrive at the asset.

Additionally, Smart Manufacturing approaches such as online work instructions in the form of documents, drawings, videos, pictures, manuals, live stream connections to domain experts, and augmented reality technology can also significantly reduce time and effort during repair and all help reduce and optimize the MTTR metric.

Spare Parts

Spare parts are one of the keys to the smooth operation of the asset and to ensuring minimal latency during repair. While stock outs are not desirable, excessive or unnecessary storage of spare parts are also very costly.

With new Smart Manufacturing practices, the frequency of movement of spare parts can be monitored in real time. The optimal ordering of the spare parts can be triggered by the Smart Manufacturing application by reconciling the velocity of the movement of the spare parts against the available stock at any time, in real time.

These are the final smart ideas I wanted to mention that are included on the topic of the Production Asset Lifecycle in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model.

Stay tuned for more looks at other chapters from the new MESA Start Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Making the Production Asset Lifecycle Smarter – Part 2

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Ananth Seshan, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

I’ve mentioned before that one of the chapters of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model covers the production asset lifecycle and how we can make the production asset lifecycle smarter. Let’s look at a few more of the smart ideas included on this topic in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model.

Asset Optimization

Monitoring an asset’s health, avoiding unexpected asset failures, and analyzing the root causes of failures, all go a long way toward getting an asset to perform effectively; however, there’s more to it than just that. Ultimately, you want the asset to always run optimally. To ensure the asset runs optimally all the time requires a lot more than just making sure it does fail unexpectedly.

The best way to optimize the performance of an asset is through a digital twin. A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical asset. There’s lots of variables that affect the optimal performance of an asset -processes, products, workloads, ambient conditions, etc. all affect the optimal performance.

Using a digital twin allows you to analyze the above factors and determine their affect on the asset. The digital twin allows you to try multiple strategies to optimize the performance. A digital twin in real-time allows you to dynamically optimize the performance of the asset, while it’s in operation, in the middle of these dynamic conditions.

Asset Usage

It’s been difficult to get accurate data on the actual usage of an asset. Many times, the data is supposed to be manually entered into an EAM or CMMS type of system, which allows for human error.

With Smart Manufacturing and the IIoT, accurate data on asset usage can be recorded directly from the controllers and/or PLCs of the assets using interoperable, open-connectivity standards such as OPC. This data can then be updated directly into the EAM or CMMS system. This means you now have accurate asset usage information in your EAM or CMMS which is right where you need it to support your preventative and predictive RCM regimens.

Under Maintenance and Over Maintenance

Under maintenance occurs when an asset is used more than was planned. It can be very costly because it means that the asset is not getting the maintenance it requires which translate to lower asset performance, more product quality issues, and more unplanned downtime.

Over maintenance occurs when an asset is used less than was planned. It can also be costly because it means you’re spending a lot of money on maintenance that’s not needed.

Getting accurate information on asset usage means that traditional time-based preventative maintenance regimens can be completely replaced with usage-based preventative maintenance.

Condition-Based Maintenance

Smart Manufacturing and the IIoT support true condition-based maintenance.

With Smart Manufacturing and the IIoT you can now monitor the conditions of the asset, in real-time, and decide to perform maintenance on the asset only when the conditions warrant.

This is usually the best approach by far because it pretty much eliminates both over maintenance and under maintenance and allows the right maintenance to be applied at the right time to the right asset, in real-time based on the actual conditions of the asset.

This is just a few of the point in the chapter that covers the production asset lifecycle and how we can make the production asset lifecycle smarter.

Stay tuned for more from the new MESA Start Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Making the Production Asset Lifecycle Smarter – Part 1

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Ananth Seshan, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

MESA International is developing a new MESA Smart Manufacturing model. It covers a lot of ground and includes chapters on the lifecycles of supply chain, personnel, order to cash, product, production, and production assets.

The fundamental purpose of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model is to be prescriptive of what Smart Manufacturing does by providing recommendations on how people can be smart in their manufacturing endeavors.

One of the chapters covers the production asset lifecycle and how to make it smarter. Below are a few ideas that are included on this topic in the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model.

Monitoring Asset Health

It seems that it’s always been difficult to accurately track the health of assets in real time. People have been able to track a few critical parameters, but have been unable to truly track all the parameters required to get a complete picture of the health of the asset; however; thanks to smart manufacturing, it’s now possible to get the data necessary from an asset to really understand its health through the IIo, new sensor technology, and new device and communications technology.

This data can then be contextualized and transformed into information that’s extremely useful in understanding and managing the asset’s health. This information can be made available in real time for immediate decision-making and for historical analyses. All for the purpose of monitoring the complete health of an asset.

Avoiding Unexpected Failures

Unplanned downtimes are always costly. They need to be understood, predicted, and avoided if possible. The first step to avoiding downtime is to understand the symptoms of the failures. To truly understand the symptoms of failures, it takes a lot of data – data that hasn’t always been available, until now.

With the technologies of smart manufacturing, the IIoT, new sensors, and new devices and communications, it’s now possible to get the data necessary from an asset to understand the symptoms of a failure, and to analyze the data to get to the root cause of the failure.

Having the data and contextualizing the data, allows for the opportunity to monitor the symptoms of known failures, perform descriptive and predictive analyses on the symptoms, and then take actions to correct the situation before the asset failure occurs.

Root Causes of Asset Failure

Detecting symptoms of failures is important to detecting potential failures and preventing them from occurring, but to truly understand what’s going on it’s necessary to get beyond the symptoms to the root causes.

Smart Manufacturing, along with the IIoT, finally provides enough data to dig deep into the root causes of the failures. This will lead to understanding new patterns of failures and understanding new patterns of symptoms and the root causes of the symptoms and the failures.

Above are just a few of the highlights in the production asset lifecycle chapter in the new MESA model. The new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model is prescriptive and provides recommendations on how to be smart in manufacturing endeavors, including how to make the production asset lifecycle smarter. 

Stay tuned for more from the new MESA Start Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Order to Cash Lifecycle and the New MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model

 Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Darren Riley, MESA Model Sub-Committee Member 

MESA International is developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model. It’s going to cover a lot of ground from ERP, MES, and Control Systems, to IIoT, AI, AR/VR, Big Data, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and a whole lot more.

The fundamental purpose of the new Smart Manufacturing Model is not to merely be descriptive in explaining what Smart Manufacturing is about, but to be prescriptive by providing specific recommendations on how people can be smart in their manufacturing endeavors.

The new Smart Manufacturing Model is based on the idea of the lifecycles of the manufacturing processes. One of the key lifecycles that is featured is the order to cash lifecycle. There will be a lot of meat in the chapter on the order to cash lifecycle and it’s worthwhile to a look at just a few of topics covered in the chapter.

For the new Smart Manufacturing Model, the order to cash lifecycle starts with the output of the long-term and mid-term planning (i.e., Planned Orders) and begins with these as inputs to production planning and the eventual creation of production orders. (For the operations space this is the beginning of the cycle whereas ERP sees the Order to Cash cycle starting when the customer places the order.) 

There’s several key constraints that are part of the manufacturing side, when I need to produce the product being ordered, of the order to cash lifecycle. Do I have the materials I need for these orders? Do I have the personnel I need for these orders? Do I have the capacity I need for these orders? The new Smart Manufacturing Model will help us learn how to be smart in making sure we have the materials, the personnel, and the capacity we need for the orders we have.

But, the new Smart Manufacturing Model doesn’t stop there, because the order to cash lifecycle is more complicated than that. There’s more to it than just having materials, personnel, and capacity. It has to be the right materials, personnel, and capacity, and the right combination of materials, personnel, and capacity. Having this right combination is all about the synchronization of materials, personnel, and capacity, such that they’re exactly what’s needed in the right place and at the right time to make the required products. The new Smart Manufacturing Model will help us learn how to be smart in synchronizing our materials, personnel, and capacity.

One of the common issues that hinder this synchronization is that not all required information is available in the same system at the same time. There’s just too many systems in place that have part of the picture. That means synchronization of materials, personnel, and capacity is a lot harder and takes a lot longer than it should. The solution is to bring this information together in a much more organized and unified approach so that synchronization can happen very, very quickly.

Because in the end, the order to cash lifecycle is really all about agility. How agile is the order to cash lifecycle? How agile is the synchronization of materials, personnel, and capacity? How agile is the order to cash lifecycle when it comes to responding to weekly, daily, or hourly changes in demand?

It’s only with the agility to change quickly – to adjust materials, to adjust personnel, and adjust capacity – that it’s possible to get beyond synchronization and ultimately get to the optimization of the order to cash lifecycle. The new Smart Manufacturing Model will help us learn to be smart in achieving synchronization, in achieving agility, and in using that agility to get from synchronization to optimization. That’s a tall order, but that’s what the new Smart Manufacturing Model is all about – being prescriptive and helping us learn how to be smart as we improve the order to cash lifecycle.

This is what’s going to be in just one chapter of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model. This chapter is on the order to cash lifecycle and there’s chapters on many other key aspects of manufacturing operations. The chapters aren’t academic and they’re not merely descriptive. They’re practical and prescriptive, dealing with how we can be smart in dealing with the real world.

Stay tuned for more looks into chapters of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Personnel Lifecycle and the New MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Chris Monchinski, MESA Manufacturing Analytics Working Group Chair 

It should not be new news to anyone that MESA International is developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model. It covers a lot of ground with chapters on the lifecycles of supply chain, personnel, order to cash, product, production, and production assets.

The fundamental purpose of the new Smart Manufacturing Model is not to be descriptive in explaining what Smart Manufacturing does, but to be prescriptive by providing recommendations on how people can be smart in their manufacturing endeavors.

I recently got a chance to talk with Chris Monchinski, who’s heading up the Personnel Lifecycle team, to talk about what’s going to be in the personnel chapter of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

He said, “We’ve been managing the personnel lifecycle from hire to retire since the original industrial revolution. And, for the most part, we’ve been doing it reasonably well. What’s new is that we now have the enabling technologies we need to really do the job right. We have the technologies we need to streamline and optimize the task so that it’s not a burden on the organization and it’s continued to be done as well or better than it ever has.”

That’s very true. There’s no lack of technologies, very good technologies, that support the personnel lifecycle from hire to retire. Technologies that really do a good job of managing the lifecycle easily and effectively. But what makes it “smart”? I asked Chris this question.

He answered, “What makes it smart is that we can now integrate the personnel lifecycle in with the other manufacturing lifecycles. We can integrate these personnel technologies into the technologies of the other manufacturing lifecycles.”

That means we can now get an integrated view of training records. We can understand the full range of skillsets needed for manufacturing and who has and doesn’t have those skillsets. That means we can get the right people for the right job at the right time. And we can know who’s certified and who’s not for a specific task.

All that means that we should be much smarter at evaluating skillsets, at using people to improve productivity in the right ways at the right times, and should be much better at the planning and scheduling of personnel.

I asked Chris what business benefits we gain from all this. He replied, “The business benefits are tremendous. For the first time we get a thorough understanding of the skill gaps that exist. We get a good understanding of the training gaps. We finally understand the importance of change management and where it works well and doesn’t work well. We get a good understanding how well our training programs are working and where we need additional training and such. We finally get to implement HPWS and P4V programs the right way – the smart way. All because we finally have the personnel technologies we need and can integrate those technologies with the manufacturing technologies to get a complete solution.”

Again, that’s all true. With the technologies that enable the personnel lifecycle, and the integration of that lifecycle into the entire manufacturing process, we can now understand the skills required for a task and the people who have those skillsets. We can, for the first time, start to optimize the people as a critical resource, and maybe for the first time, really start to use people effectively and efficiently.

This is what’s going to be in just one chapter of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model. This chapter is on the personnel lifecycle and there’s chapters on many other key aspects of manufacturing operations. They aren’t academic and they’re not descriptive. They’re practical and prescriptive, dealing with how we can be smart in the real world.

Stay tuned for more looks into chapters of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Production Asset Lifecycle of the New MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair

25 years ago, MESA International created the original MES Model. It’s gone through multiple reincarnations over the years but is still in use in every corner of the world, helping people define MES and MES projects.

Today, MESA International is undertaking one of its largest projects since the original MES Model. MESA International is developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model that will not only be descriptive in explaining what Smart Manufacturing is about, but will be prescriptive by providing specific recommendations on how people can be smart in their manufacturing endeavors.

The new Smart Manufacturing Model will be divided into chapters defining specific lifecycles within the manufacturing environment. One of the chapters will be on the lifecycle of production assets and how individuals can be smart about managing their production assets. Because these chapters are prescriptive, and not merely descriptive, the new Smart Manufacturing Model will be invaluable to Smart Manufacturing practitioners.

The following paragraphs provide an overview of the prescriptive nature of the production asset lifecycle management chapter of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model.

  1. Production assets fail unexpectedly. Many failures seem random, but most failures are not random and can be avoided. It’s important to understand what causes unexpected failures and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us learn how to be smart in avoiding assets that fail unexpectedly.
  2. Everyone wants to run their production assets as optimally as possible. But that’s easier said than done and most companies never run their production assets optimally. It’s important to understand what it takes to run production assets in an optimal fashion and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us learn how we can be smart in making a production asset run optimally.
  3. When failures occur it’s important to understand the root cause of the failures. It’s often not what you thought it was. It usually takes a deeper dive into what happened to truly understand the root cause of the failure. It’s important to understand the root causes of failures and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us understand how to identify the root causes of failures in a smart way.
  4. Maintenance is a normal part of the production asset lifecycle but, maintenance that is not synchronized with production just doesn’t add much value. In other words, it’s important to understand how maintenance can drive productivity and remove non-value-added activity. The Smart Manufacturing Model will help us by providing prescriptive actions to achieve this.
  5. Likewise, under-maintenance and over-maintenance are also common in the lifecycle of production assets. While everyone wants to minimize under-maintenance and over-maintenance, it can be very difficult to distinguish over, under, and just right. It’s important to understand the causes for under-maintenance and over-maintenance and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us be smart in avoiding under-maintenance and over-maintenance.
  6. Spare parts are an important aspect of the production asset lifecycle. But it can be costly to have spare parts that aren’t needed and even more costly to not have spare parts that are needed. It’s important to understand what spare parts are needed and not needed and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us to be smart in ordering spare parts.
  7. Sometimes production assets might have design flaws that cause rejects during field operation. The Smart Manufacturing Model will prescribe smart actions for leveraging field data for removing design flaws or making design improvements in a production asset.
  8. At some point, all production assets must be retired. But it’s costly to retire an asset too early and maybe even more costly to retire an asset too late. It’s important to understand when a production asset should be retired, and the Smart Manufacturing Model will help us to be smart in retiring a production asset at just the right time that will maximize the asset’s economic value.

This is what’s going to be just one chapter of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model. This chapter is on production assets and there are chapters on all other key aspects of the manufacturing operations. The chapters aren’t academic and they’re not merely descriptive. They are practical and prescriptive, dealing with real world situations and how we can be smart in dealing with those situations.

Stay tuned for more looks into chapters of the new MESA International Smart Manufacturing Model.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Myth – We are An Unlikely Target

 Authored by Dirk Sweigart, MESA Cybersecurity Working Group Chairman 

The Colonial Pipeline, Iranian Centrifuges, large financial companies and large companies in general, big cities – these are the notable targets of cyber attackers.  Seen within this context, it is easy to assume that your company is an unlikely target for a cyberattack and therefore, does not need to be stringent about protecting your manufacturing systems.  Let us explode this myth.

First, some attackers are simply opportunistic.  They don’t know the potential value of an intrusion because they don’t really know the inner workings of your company.  They prey on the weak or the poorly protected.  They may choose you as a target almost at random. 

The best way to become an unlikely target is to strengthen your cyber posture.  The analogy is of the two hikers who encounter a bear coming towards them. As one begins to hike off, the other stops to put on his running shoes.  The first hiker says, “what are you doing, we need to outrun that bear!” The second hiker says “no, I only need to outrun you!”

Strengthening your defenses (or providing defense in depth) can make you a less desirable target (too much work relative to other targets) and therefore, a less likely target.

Second, your company may unwittingly become a target because of the actions of your employees.  Depending on what is permitted to be while done on the job, your company may become a target due to successful phishing, websites with embedded malware, or the installation and use of compromised software by your employees or contractors.  These methods do not care that you’re supposed to be unlikely – they look for the careless.  Good employee training and strong policies and practices can make this less likely but cannot remove the possibility.  

Last of all, you may believe that your industry or what you make is not “interesting enough” to attract any attention.  Maybe you operate a small municipal water treatment plant, or make small plastic parts, pencils, metal rods or other “cogs in the wheel.”  Surely, operations such as these would be unlikely targets?  Please re-read the first point and then consider what the company has that is of value that could be lost or compromised.  Every manufacturing operation has something of value that could be lost, even if it is simply lost production.  If it is of value, it can make you a target.

Following that line of reason, consider that risk is a combination of threat and consequences.  You may believe you’re an unlikely target but what is the value of your company, your process or your intellectual property?  Even if you believe the likelihood is low, can you afford the consequences if the unlikely event occurs? ID Agent says 60 percent of companies go out of business within six months following a cyberattack.  This is due to the long and lingering cost of recovery, the loss of revenue and the on-going unrepairable reputation damage.  

The conclusion is that you can make this myth a reality for your company if you work at it.  Practicing defense in depth, having good designs and implementation, maintaining good training, policies and practices and having a strong cyber posture can reduce the risk of having to address a successful cyberattack on your manufacturing.  You can become an unlikely target and outrun the bear. 


The MESA Cybersecurity Working Group focuses on current topics at the intersection between cybersecurity and manufacturing systems.  Stay tuned for more on these topics or reach to our Working Group for expertise and valuable networking.

About the Author
Dirk Sweigart, CISSP, PMP (Applied Control Engineering, Inc.) is an MES Solutions Manager and Cybersecurity Expert at Applied Control Engineering, Inc in Newark, DE.  He has over thirty years experience developing systems for process control, SCADA, MES and business applications with DuPont, INVISTA, Koch Industries and ACE.  Dirk also teaches cybersecurity and SCADA at the Wilmington University graduate school.  He is an information member of the ISA-95 Committee and a member of the MESA Cybersecurity Working Group.  You can reach him at sweigartd@ace-net.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Cybersecurity Myths - We Are Disconnected

Authored by Dirk Sweigart, MESA Cybersecurity Working Group Chairman 

In February of this year, I had Covid 19 symptoms and tested positive.  How did that happen?  I social- distanced, wore a mask, dramatically limited my interactions with others, washed my hands regularly and thought I was protecting myself.  I thought I was reasonably “disconnected.”  Turns out, I was not.

You may think your manufacturing systems or industrial control systems are similarly “disconnected.”  However, you may not be aware of the number of factors working against your assumption that can make it essentially moot.  After all, as I am proof, it only takes one time.

What are these factors?  Here are some potential “back-channels” into your systems that could allow this to occur.

Almost any time you connect a device to a USB port anywhere on the disconnected network, you could be breaking the disconnect.  If any USB ports are open, anywhere on the controls or manufacturing network, then connecting a device, even just to charge it, is breaching the barrier.  You are no longer disconnected.  An operator plugs his cell phone into a USB port to charge it…the use of peripherals can break the disconnect.  

Are there devices that use wireless in use within the network?  If so, unless access is tightly managed, wireless can be a place where the disconnect is broken.  Sometimes devices are added to a network (maybe temporarily) and they have wireless enabled on them.  Have you ever connected a laptop to work on the disconnected network and have wireless enabled on the laptop?  Printers sometimes have wireless available.  The use of wireless can break the disconnect.

Sharing the wired network – does your control system ever share a switch with another network?  This is sometimes done for convenience, cost or by an IT department (perhaps without realizing they are breaking the disconnect) and perhaps using a VLAN.  Sharing switches with other networks can break the disconnect.

Even if you connect a workstation that is not actively connected to a wireless network, it may have been connected (and\or infected) recently.  After all, how are you going to get software updates or new configuration into your disconnected network?  Connecting external devices such as laptops to the disconnected network can break the disconnect. 

It is not unusual, especially during the pandemic, for methods of remote access to the control or manufacturing systems to be set up.  Knowledge of the existence of these may be closely held and they may also be connected only when needed.  Regardless, these remote access techniques represent a break in the “disconnected” paradigm. 

Perhaps what is meant by “disconnected” is actually “lightly” connected.  The manufacturing or controls networks may have only a single point of access protected by a firewall that is tightly locked for in-bound traffic.  Being actually connected by a firewall device, even one tightly controlled, is not disconnected.  Also, pay attention to both the inbound and OUTBOUND firewall rules if you are using a common stateful firewall. If you lock down inbound requests but not outbound requests, you may have internal connections being made to e-mail or websites where malware can be encountered and introduced into your “disconnected” network.

This is not to say that you must find and kill all these new back-channels. Just be aware that they often do exist and evaluate your risks accordingly.  You can maintain that “it won’t happen to me”, but don’t believe the myth that it’s because you’re disconnected. Cough, cough!

About the Author

Dirk Sweigart, CISSP, PMP (Applied Control Engineering, Inc.) is an MES Solutions Manager and Cybersecurity Expert at Applied Control Engineering, Inc in Newark, DE.  He has over thirty years experience developing systems for process control, SCADA, MES and business applications with DuPont, INVISTA, Koch Industries and ACE.  Dirk also teaches cybersecurity and SCADA at the Wilmington University graduate school.  He is an information member of the ISA-95 Committee and a member of the MESA Cybersecurity Working Group.  You can reach him at sweigartd@ace-net.com.

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 almost 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.

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.


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.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The New MESA Model – Getting the Big Picture

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Julie Fraser, long-time MESA Member and subject matter expert part of the MESA Model Sub-Committee.

MESA, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, is collectively taking a step back from the maelstrom that is Smart Manufacturing and working to make some sense of the chaos. They’re developing a new model specifically for Smart Manufacturing that will craft a new framework for Smart Manufacturing and help everyone get a much better feel for all the various aspects that make up the world of Smart Manufacturing.

I got a chance to talk with Julie Fraser, one of the subject matter experts working directly on the new MESA model, and one of the people that helped create the original MESA MES model that helped put MESA on the map.

Julie had this to say about the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model. “The problem space of Smart Manufacturing is just way too big to easily understand. There’s just so many facets to it that it’s almost impossible for one person to understand it all. That’s where MESA and our new model comes in.”

“The idea is for MESA to create a framework to help people understand the big picture of Smart Manufacturing and specifically the context for any kind of initiative they are undertaking. This will allow them to assess their efforts and better understand their priorities, creating a more unified approach and direction for them, since all of Smart Manufacturing is so intertwined.”

The new MESA model will be focused on lifecycles and common capabilities – which is nothing more than a simple yet comprehensive way to organize your approach to Smart Manufacturing. The idea is to put these elements into the new “possible”, the context of Smart Manufacturing.

There’s lots of models out there and that’s why MESA is working so hard to make sure the new model is pragmatic and usable. Maybe more than anything else, to ensure it is accessible to everyone working in this space so they can talk to each other and actually communicate.

I asked Julie what she thought the success criteria would be for the new MESA model. She had this to say. “The original MESA MES model has been used by just about everyone in the MES space around the world since it was created. Our intention at MESA is to build a model for Smart Manufacturing that will be used by everyone. It will help people communicate across diverse disciplines. It will provide alignment with business strategy, with busines and manufacturing processes, and with people across the entire enterprise. It will be pragmatic and extremely helpful to everybody.”

The new MESA model for Smart Manufacturing is really needed as a way think about all the various aspects in a logical fashion. Without a model like this, people are just overwhelmed. There’s no framework, no common language, no common baseline of understanding. That makes it hard to talk about things logically and especially hard to talk with people in other disciplines.

Julie explained it this way. “It’s like the parable about the blind men and the elephant. They each described the small part of the elephant that they touched, but none of them could see the whole elephant. The purpose of the new MESA model is to show people the whole elephant of Smart Manufacturing.”

It’s very ambitious for sure. But MESA has had a lot of success in developing models going all the way to the original MESA MES model. MESA has a core team of about a dozen people working on this new model. Teams are meeting and working pretty much every week, already producing draft concepts for the model components. MESA intends this model to be nothing less than groundbreaking and hopes the model will be used by virtually everyone around the world who works in the Smart Manufacturing space.

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

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Why the New MESA Model is Really Needed

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Jeff Winter, MESA International Board Member and member of the MESA Model Sub-Committee.

MESA International, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, is building a new Smart Manufacturing model to provide industry with a new perspective, and a new reference, for Smart Manufacturing.

The idea is to bridge the gap between the needs of individual users or practitioners and the various institutions that are trying to define Smart Manufacturing.

I asked Jeff Winter, one of the Subject Matter Experts on the MESA team building the new Smart Manufacturing model, what it was all about. “This is a tremendous opportunity to provide value to people actually working on Smart Manufacturing projects for their companies. You see, there’s lots of Smart Manufacturing models out there, and many of them help you evaluate your company at a high level, for Smart Manufacturing readiness or maturity. But they all have a major failure. They don’t provide a roadmap for you and our Smart Manufacturing project. They simply don’t address the use of the various technologies.”

That’s not to say that any of these existing models are bad. It’s just that they don’t tell the whole story. They help companies with only part of what they need to be successful. The idea of the new MESA model is to complement these organizations and their models to provide a definitive roadmap for companies and projects to use to know where to go and how to get there with Smart Manufacturing.

The new model will help people understand how to approach Smart Manufacturing and understand how Smart Manufacturing fits in with their business. With this new model, companies will be able to carve out their path to Smart Manufacturing projects, and ultimately Smart Manufacturing success. They’ll be able to see what Smart Manufacturing is all about, what needs to get done, and how it all impacts the other parts of their company.

I asked Jeff if he could elaborate on all this. “The problem with all these models is that they simply don’t address the technologies. For example, digital twin technology is very cool and very powerful, providing companies with significant benefits. But these models don’t explain what it is, when to use it, when not to use, where it fits, and why someone uses it. The models don’t explain what business benefits it achieves, the prerequisites for its use, the challenges to its use, and what’s really needed to successfully implement it. And that’s just one example. All of these models are deficient in that they don’t address these questions about the technologies – they very technologies that are driving Smart Manufacturing in the first place.”

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing model will address these questions about the technology, providing a roadmap so people can understand when, where, and why to use all these new technologies.

Jeff continues, “And more than that, the new model will address the impacts of these technologies to all the other areas of the company such as supply chain, production, networking, cybersecurity, data management, training, personnel, and so on. Because all these technologies have such a big impact on the company as a whole. You have to understand that, and you have to see it coming before you launch off on one of these projects.”

Fundamentally, the new MESA model will provide the roadmap, the steps needed to implement the technology and ultimately be successful with the technology. Because all these technologies require a level of maturity and companies have to learn to crawl before they walk and walk before they run with Smart Manufacturing. None of the technology is a silver bullet and much of the technology may not produce any benefits if the company is not ready or if the people are not ready.

And that’s the fundamental purpose of the new MESA model. To explain the technology to help people know when and where to use the technology, how to use it right, and how to make sure they get the benefits they want out of the technology. And, it some cases, to explain why they shouldn’t use the technology because they’re not ready yet.

Helping people use the technology, use it right, and get the benefits they want, that’s the ultimate purpose of the new MESA Smart Manufacturing model.

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

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Practical Side of Smart Manufacturing

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Jan-Christoph Galm, MESA EMEA Board Member and member of the MESA Model Sub-Committee.  

MESA, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, has embarked on the development of a new model for Smart Manufacturing. Many people have asked me, “Why? Why is MESA doing this? Aren’t there enough models out there already?”

Well, yes, there are. There’s lot of models out there that cover all sorts of aspects of Smart Manufacturing. But they all have one thing in common. They all approach Smart Manufacturing from a specific point of view.

Now, not all those points of view are bad. But an individual point of view may not work for everybody and someone who’s not that familiar with Smart Manufacturing may not realize that what they’re looking at is even based on a particular point of view.

And that’s the big difference between the other models that are out there and what MESA is doing. The new MESA Smart Manufacturing model is being developed from a completely neutral point of view. It is intended to cover the breadth and depth of smart manufacturing but from a completely unbiased and neutral point of view.

Here’s the way Jan-Christoph Galm, a member of MESA’s EMEA Board of Directors explained it. “The idea of the new MESA model for Smart Manufacturing is first and foremost to be transparent. It’s to be totally unbiased with no built-in preconceived notions or points of view on what Smart Manufacturing is. It’s to provide an unbiased view of the vision of the Smart Factory.”

Along these lines, the new MESA model for Smart Manufacturing will provide a framework to help everyone speak the same language and to get a baseline or foundation on what Smart Manufacturing is all about. It’s a common model and a common language. The people that use it then accept it as a common agreement on what’s what with regards to Smart Manufacturing.

According to Jan-Christoph, there’s much more to it than that. “The new MESA model will be practical. It does no one any good for MESA to put out another model that only academicians can use. Or a model that only a very few people can get past the first few pages. The MESA model will be practical, for everyone to use, from the shop floor to the top floor, from operations to engineering to IT to management.”

The new MESA model will be both high level and low level but making it easy to navigate from the highest levels to the lowest levels, and back again. All providing a step-by-step way for people to discuss through the levels and understand what Smart Manufacturing is all about.

Jan-Christoph also emphasizes the roots of MESA with regards to the new model. “MESA grew up with Manufacturing Execution Systems or MES and we haven’t forgotten those roots. The new MESA model will be focused on Smart Manufacturing but just as MES is a key part of Smart Manufacturing, MES will be a key part of the new MESA model. It’ll provide not only an understanding of Smart Manufacturing, but an understanding of MES, the benefits of MES, and how MES fits into Smart Manufacturing.”

The new MESA model will have something for everybody. It will be intentionally neutral, with no pre-conceived biases or points of view. It will be practical, providing a common vision and a common language for everyone to understand the basics of Smart Manufacturing. And it won’t forget MES, which is still a cornerstone of manufacturing operations and a key part of Smart Manufacturing.

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

Enhance your exposure by sponsoring the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Getting Excited About the New MESA Smart Manufacturing Model

Authored by John Clemons, MESA Marketing Committee Chair, based on an interview with Dennis Brandl, MESA GEP Instructor and member of the MESA Model Sub-Committee. 

Everyone in the manufacturing world says we’re in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution and Smart Manufacturing is transforming manufacturing back into an economic powerhouse. 

But what most people see is wave after wave of new technology with no real idea how any of it is supposed to fit together.

MESA, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, has started developing a new Smart Manufacturing Model, with the express purpose of providing everyone with a simple and easy-to-use framework for making sense out of everything that’s part of Smart Manufacturing.

Dennis Brandl, a member of the MESA team building this model, says, “Most people don’t understand how it all fits together. It’s really just a vast state of turbulence with just about every country having its own model for Smart Manufacturing. MESA is cutting through all this fluff to provide a comprehensive Smart Manufacturing model that people can actually use to understand what Smart Manufacturing is all about.”

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model will provide a way to look at a company’s manufacturing operations and get a view of the entire lifecycle of manufacturing. In fact, this concept of lifecycles is key to the new model. Whether it’s a product lifecycle, an asset lifecycle, or a lifecycle for the manufacturing personnel, this idea of lifecycles is a key to understanding the complete picture of the manufacturing operations and how Smart Manufacturing fits into this picture.

Dennis explains more of the purpose of the new MESA model. “It’s fundamentally going to be a way of looking at the problem space to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s intended to cover everything you need to be concerned with in this space. It will help people decide what to do by helping them ask the hard questions and determine if they really have the answers they need.”

In this way the new MESA model can be thought of as a checklist at the highest level to make sure no one is missing any of the key concepts of Smart Manufacturing.

Manufacturing companies can use the new model to make sure they’re dealing with all the issues, especially the ones they haven’t thought of yet. And solution providers can use the new model to make sure they’re providing their customers with everything they need.

Dennis says he’s very excited about the new MESA model. He says, “This is going to be good for everyone. Smart Manufacturing is good for everyone. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model will be easily usable by everyone. It will be a key tool for everyone to use to understand Smart Manufacturing when they’re looking at anything related to Smart Manufacturing. 

The new model will show people the path and will show people the way. Ultimately it will be down-to-earth, showing people what really works, in a way they can understand.

It’s easy to get excited about the new MESA Smart Manufacturing Model. It will be a great tool to understand what’s really going on in Smart Manufacturing. It will help everyone make sure they’re asking the hard questions and dealing with the tough issues that will ultimately decide the success or failure of a Smart Manufacturing project. 

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