Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Smart Manufacturing Update from the MESA Community Feud

Conrad Leiva, MESA International, Smart Manufacturing WG Chairman

MESA had a recent web event focused on Smart Manufacturing with a game show type of format and an opportunity for the audience to participate through polls. The Smart Manufacturing Community Feud was initially inspired on the Family Feud game show, but the idea was modified to an interactive format with the webcast viewers.

I came out of the experience with the following observations based on the responses from peers in the community. These echoed many of the opinions we have received at workshops and regular calls with the MESA Smart Manufacturing Community members.  
  • There is still a big percentage of manufacturers that have not fully embraced the Smart Manufacturing journey, but the industry leaders are starting to share their success stories and initiatives are becoming more prevalent.
  • However, over half of the companies polled reported a mismatch between their Smart Manufacturing goals and the vision portrayed at conferences. Many have set their expectations for Smart Manufacturing much lower.  This aligns with previous surveys where there seems to be a 50-50% split on people focused on cost reduction and optimization versus business transformation and new business models.
  • The vast majority believe that workers will be part of the factory of the future, but they will be augmented by co-bots, exoskeletons, and AI-driven assistants.
  •  Most agree that we do not need more data than we are collecting today. Having data does not seem to be the problem. We are either not collecting the right data, or we are not organizing, relating and modeling the existing data in ways that enable better use of analytical tools.
  •  The most surprising response was the excitement around digital twins. There is a significant percent counting on the results of digital twin initiatives as an essential part of their business model. However, there is concern about the investment required and the effort to align multiple parallel initiatives among different departments working on simulation models and digital twin type of functionality. 
  •  Many are expecting security and privacy standards to evolve quickly and become the new norm in the industry for the entire supply chain. There is also enthusiasm behind blockchain as a technology that can help with data exchanges among value chain partners.
  • When asked about MES/MOM, the popular opinion is that MES is evolving as a central repository of contextualized data. However, many also believe it will also be divided up into smaller modular apps. These are not mutually exclusive options. The MES platform can be designed to provide the data layer separately and allow varied modular apps to interact with the data layers via APIs.

To hear the Smart Manufacturing Community Feud – Episode 1 click on this link.

For more information on how to join the MESA Smart Manufacturing Community click on the following link.

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