Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA)
MESA’s Visionary Voyage: Charting the Future of Smart Manufacturing
Where community growth and technological innovation converge, MESA’s ambitious manufacturing roadmap
In the intricate tapestry of the manufacturing world, the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) emerges as a luminous thread, weaving together innovation, collaboration, and tangible results.
Established in 1992, MESA has been a cornerstone for the global manufacturing community, championing the transformative power of information technology to drive business outcomes. As a non-profit trade association, its dedication extends beyond mere technology implementation; it dives deep into fostering educational initiatives, groundbreaking research programs, and creating a vibrant platform for best practice sharing and peer-to-peer networking.
John Clemons, the Incoming Chair of the Americas Board, encapsulates the essence of MESA’s mission with eloquence and clarity. “MESA has been steadfast in its commitment to the global manufacturing community,” Clemons articulates. “Our primary mandate is to use information technology as a catalyst to achieve business results. We’re not just about technology for technology’s sake; we’re about the tangible outcomes it can deliver.”
This unwavering focus on real-world results is mirrored in MESA’s multifaceted approach to education and research. By creating a space for best practice sharing, MESA ensures that its members remain at the vanguard of the industry, armed with the latest insights and tools to navigate the complexities of contemporary manufacturing.
Moreover, the emphasis on peer-to-peer networking underscores MESA’s belief in the collective power of collaboration. Clemons elucidates, “In this dynamic environment, it’s imperative for industry stalwarts to connect, exchange experiences, and learn collaboratively. MESA is that nexus, a hub where innovation is not just encouraged but celebrated.”
Harnessing the Power of Information Technology in Manufacturing
Clemons delves deep into the essence of MESA’s mission, emphasizing the transformative power of information technology in the manufacturing sector. “We have a global community of MESA members, essentially industry thought leaders, working diligently to drive business improvement by applying information technology and best practices,” Clemons explains. “Our goal is to seamlessly integrate information technology with operations, technology, and emerging innovations in manufacturing and industrial operations.”
MESA’s commitment to fostering collaboration and innovation is evident in its initiatives. Clemons highlights the association’s recent endeavor, the MESA Smart Manufacturing Model. “This model offers a practical framework for integrating best practices, operations technology, information technology, and emerging technologies to enhance manufacturing operations,” he says. “It’s not just a theoretical construct; it’s a tangible tool that professionals can use daily to make smart manufacturing a reality for their organizations.”
When reflecting on MESA’s journey since its inception in 1992, Clemons notes the monumental shift in the role of technology within the manufacturing sector. “Back in 1992, the use of information technology in manufacturing was in its infancy. However, we recognized its potential as a game-changer, a tool that could redefine manufacturing strategies and operations.”
Looking ahead, Clemons is optimistic about the trajectory of information technology in manufacturing. “We’re witnessing an exciting convergence of new technologies, each amplifying the other’s impact,” he shares. “From augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications in manufacturing to the resurgence of manufacturing execution systems, the possibilities are boundless. Innovations like AI tailored for manufacturing, advanced identification technologies, and novel robotics solutions are collectively reshaping the industry, offering solutions that transcend the capabilities of individual technologies.”
Empowering the Manufacturing Sector: Education, Innovation, and Collaboration
Clemons highlights MESA’s multifaceted approach to fostering growth and innovation in the manufacturing sector. At the heart of MESA’s initiatives lies its Global Education Program. “We offer a series of classes, both online and instructor-led, aimed at acquainting individuals with the myriad solutions available and their potential applications,” Clemons explains. “From basic awareness programs introducing the vast landscape of available technologies to advanced courses on building a robust business case for these solutions, our educational offerings are comprehensive.”
The program’s success lies in its practicality. Clemons highlights one of the association’s flagship courses centered on the justification of technology expenditures. “Given the convergence of information technology, operations technology, and emerging technologies like AI, understanding their collective impact and building a financial model to justify the investment can be challenging. Our course guides individuals through this intricate process.”
When asked about the industry’s reception to these technological advancements, Clemons is optimistic. “Manufacturing sectors built around innovation, like pharmaceuticals and medical devices, inherently understand the value of technology. They leverage it as a competitive advantage, driving product development, reducing costs, and enhancing productivity.” He further notes the enthusiasm in sectors closely tied to consumers, such as foods, beverages, and consumer packaged goods. “These sectors harness technology to swiftly respond to consumer demands, introducing new products and extending the life of existing ones.”
On the topic of advocacy, Clemons clarifies MESA’s stance. “While we don’t have a direct advocacy or lobbying component, we collaborate closely with several industry organizations.” He mentions the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Industry Institute (CESMII), as a prime example of a public-private partnership that MESA engages with. “Our focus is on fostering collaboration and ensuring that the manufacturing sector remains at the forefront of technological advancements,” Clemons concludes.
Navigating the Challenges of Modern Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry, while brimming with potential, is not without its challenges. Clemons shares some of the pressing issues faced by companies and how MESA is positioned to assist.
“One of the significant challenges is financial justification,” Clemons begins. “Companies eager to harness new technologies often grapple with securing funding approvals. The process can be slow, hindering firms from tapping into the benefits of emerging technologies.” He emphasizes that this sluggishness in embracing new technologies can leave companies lagging, unable to seize the opportunities that smart manufacturing presents.
To combat this, MESA offers several resources. “Our smart manufacturing model is a practical tool designed to elucidate the concept of smart manufacturing,” Clemons shares. “Additionally, our courses on building a robust business case, coupled with best practices, white papers, and practical guidebooks, empower companies to navigate the complexities of implementing new technologies.”
Clemons further highlights the dichotomy in perceptions about new technologies. “On one hand, there’s undeniable excitement about the superfluity of innovative technologies available. Yet, on the flip side, there’s skepticism, often stemming from a lack of understanding.” Questions like ‘Why do we need the industrial Internet of Things?’ or ‘What’s the value of AI in our operations?’ are commonplace.
Addressing this, Clemons underscores MESA’s pivotal role. “Our mission is to demystify these technologies, showcasing their tangible benefits. We aim to illustrate how they enable companies to operate more efficiently, cost-effectively, and innovatively than ever before.” Through its comprehensive suite of tools, classes, white papers, and guidebooks, MESA strives to ensure that companies can transition from mere awareness of these technologies to their effective implementation, driving real-world results.
Building Bridges: MESA’s Approach to Networking and Community Engagement
In the vast expanse of the manufacturing landscape, the importance of community and networking cannot be overstated. Clemons talks about MESA’s initiatives in fostering these connections. “We’ve established what we term the ‘Smart Manufacturing Community’,” he reveals. “This community comprises several groups, each meeting virtually every few weeks, centered around various facets of smart manufacturing.”
These sub-communities, as Clemons describes them, range from topics like the industrial Internet of Things to specific software or AI methodologies. “It’s a peer-to-peer community,” he emphasizes. “While we facilitate, it’s community-led, allowing members to discuss the latest trends, challenges, and solutions in their respective areas.”
Beyond these communities, MESA has also instituted numerous working groups. “These groups are an extension of our community, bringing together experts from diverse industries to produce guidance in the form of best practices,” Clemons explains. Whether it’s a white paper, a guidebook, a webinar, or even a new class, these working groups are at the forefront of knowledge dissemination.
Clemons further underscores the significance of these working groups. “The idea is to first engage individuals in the smart manufacturing community and then channel their expertise into these working groups. We have dozens of such communities and working groups, each dedicated to various subjects.”
Diversifying its approach, MESA also champions user communities. “While many are familiar with sectors like automotive manufacturing or aviation, there are underserved industries like the process industries,” Clemons points out. To address this, MESA has user communities dedicated to these niche sectors.
Additionally, recognizing the global nature of manufacturing, MESA has regional user communities, from Asia-Pacific to Latin America and Europe. “These regional communities allow us to cater to the unique challenges and opportunities present in different parts of the world,” Clemons says.
Charting the Future: MESA’s Vision for 2023 and Beyond
As industries evolve and technologies advance, the roadmap for the future becomes crucial. Clemons shares his insights on MESA’s priorities as they transition from 2023 into 2024.
“Our paramount priority is the continued growth of our communities,” Clemons states emphatically. “MESA thrives on its people. As a nonprofit, we’re fueled by the passion and dedication of our members. Every individual, including myself, is a volunteer, driven by a shared vision.”
He further emphasizes the essence of MESA’s mission. “Our goal is simple yet profound: to get more people involved. We want them to recognize the transformative potential of smart manufacturing, information technology, and the myriad of emerging technologies. We aim to ignite their enthusiasm, encourage active participation, and foster a sense of belonging within the MESA family.”
Clemons’ words resonate with optimism and determination. “Every corner of MESA, no matter how niche, holds significance. Our collective strength lies in our diversity and shared purpose. As we look ahead, our vision is clear: to galvanize individuals worldwide, to inspire them to join our journey, and to collectively shape the future of manufacturing.”
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AT A GLANCE
Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA)
What: Global nonprofit that provides education, networking, and best practice sharing around Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0.
Where: Arizona, USA