Smart manufacturing has the whole world’s attention. From Germany, France and the UK to India, China and the U.S., government leaders are banking on the opportunities to compete globally and strengthen their economies by strengthening manufacturing with an infusion of advanced information technologies and a 21st-century business mindset. MESA International has lived at the intersection of manufacturing and IT for more than 23 years, focusing on the business value available there. We see the real opportunities the smart manufacturing vision presents, and we see the real challenges manufacturers will face in realizing them.
MESA believes that manufacturing leaders and practitioners cannot afford to miss today’s opportunity to forge a path forward together. Business leaders are looking for innovative ways to move their businesses forward and build a sustainable competitive advantage. Plant teams are looking to show executive leaders that it is worth investing in manufacturing. There hasn’t been a catalyst in recent times bringing these actors together more directly than smart manufacturing has the opportunity to do.
We feel that smart manufacturing can give manufacturers tools and approaches to unlock innovation in their plants and across their businesses like never before. But the technologies required are only part of the story. As they continue to find their place and round into form, the time is right for business leaders to invest in their people and tackle other challenges. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of manufacturers see employees at the center of their Factory of the Future, according to a 2014 MESA/SCM World research report. Are you ready to lead them to that future? Here’s what it looks like:
- That future promises collaboration, sharing digital information securely with customers, suppliers, partners and internal teams, yet many companies today struggle even to share across their own departmental boundaries.
- That future promises to turn your people into “knowledge workers” connected and empowered to streamline processes in support of your business strategies. But many of today’s workers fight change and adoption of new approaches.
- That future promises that environmental sustainability is a given and that companies will be good corporate citizens. And yet, today, those goals tend to seem lofty and can feel like another point of stress on manufacturing.
- That future also promises to bring together the worlds of manufacturing and IT, which today are often separated or even combative.
MESA believes that the workforce of the future will bring their technology with them and completely obliterate many of the challenges referenced above. That will open the door to realizing the value smart manufacturing espouses, so we encourage a strong leadership commitment to an IT-enabled future and deliberate steps to communicate and deliver on that future.
What to do next
The good news for manufacturers that want to realize their share of smart manufacturing’s value through their manufacturing operations is that these new technologies complement existing, proven technologies and approaches that have been evolving and maturing for many years. You have people you can turn to with questions and can trust that their answers are grounded in experience.
Though the Industrial Internet, the cloud and Big Data analytics may be the rocket fuel set to propel manufacturing to new heights, the launching pad for those returns in manufacturing operations is much better established with manufacturing enterprise solutions (MES). Your smart manufacturing journey begins with a solid MES strategy.
MESA International is a global, not-for-profit industry association serving industry since 1992. Our community of manufacturers, producers and solution providers has rallied together for more than two decades to provide clarity on the role and business value of modern Information Technologies in production operations. Regardless of where you are on your smart manufacturing journey, your next step is to join the global MESA community. Join MESA today; train your teams on MESA’s methods and approaches; give them access to peer-to-peer networks of like-minded professionals and to the world-class content in MESA’s online resource library; and lead them to the future you envision for them all.
>>Mike Yost, president of MESA International, has more than 25 years of industrial, commercial and management experience. He has held various leadership roles in automation and industrial software businesses—including GE Intelligent Platforms’ Production Management Software business, Activplant and Rockwell Automation. He has spent the past four years leading MESA to improve the non-profit association’s ability to help manufacturers make sense of the role and value of modern IT in their production operations and across the enterprise.