Revised MESA model gives production execution systems strategic context
MESA International has devised new guidelines for connecting plant-floor systems with higher-level business applications. The ultimate goal in releasing the new collaborative manufacturing execution system (MES) model is to help manufacturers deploy plant-to-enterprise solutions that support strategic business initiatives such as Lean, new product introduction processes, or Total Quality programs.
The model was unveiled at MESA’s annual Plant-to-Enterprise conference, held in mid-September in Orlando.
According to MESA Executive Director Matt Bauer, the theme of this year’s MESA event, “Innovation to integration,” reflects “a larger movement toward connectivity that gives every business a larger footprint.
“The new model illustrates [this movement toward connectivity],” Bauer continues. “It puts the production execution space into the larger context of technology-enabled processes for enterprise business operations, including product engineering and the supply chain.”
These new developments are reflective of the scale and scope of change taking place in production environments today. “A global economy poses challenges in terms of quality management and supply chain visibility,” explains Bauer. “At the same time, expectations continue to rise in areas such as lead time and price based on pervasive technology use and trends toward measurement of key performance indicators [KPI] in real time.”
MESA, originally formed by a loose-knit group of small software vendors and systems integrators, has evolved over time to include participation from major automation and technology infrastructure vendors, including Rockwell, GE Fanuc, and Siemens on the one hand; and Microsoft and IBM on the other.
Despite strong vendor support, the organization admittedly has had trouble bringing large numbers of technology users into its membership ranks, particularly in North America. To address that issue, MESA says individual users can now get a free basic MESA membership that includes access to any research posted on the organization’s Web site. MESA officials hope the free memberships will entice more user companies to become corporate members of MESA.
Meanwhile, MESA chapters are proliferating internationally, including in Europe, South Africa, and Asia.
While not seeking to set IT interoperability and integration standards itself, MESA works closely with the standards-making organization ISA. According to Bauer, MESA sees its role as “creating guidebooks that put key concepts into an agreed context—ROI contingencies, KPIs, and success metrics, for example.”