The importance of smart manufacturing standards

National initiatives and industry consortia are monitored and enhanced so companies can leverage smart manufacturing to make companies more productive, sustainable, and flexible.

By Mike Hannah February 23, 2018

In manufacturing, standards help organizations develop, manufacture, and supply goods and services in a more efficient, safer, and sustainable way. It’s easy to take them for granted in spite of the impact they’ve had.

Technology innovation, economic, and political forces are creating great interest on Smart Manufacturing and the need to promote connectivity standards in the manufacturing ecosystem. Governments around the world have realized manufacturing is a major contributor to their GDP and is critical for their national competitiveness in the global economy.

Many countries have created national initiatives in response. For example, Germany launched Industrie 4.0; the United States sponsors Manufacturing USA; China promotes its Made in China 2025; Korea calls it Manufacturing Innovation 3.0; and France named their initiative Industrie du Futur. The U.K., Sweden, Japan, India, and many other countries all have country-specific efforts as well.

What they have in common is creating a vision and strategy for smart manufacturing supporting manufacturers’ digital business transformation to drive reduced capital expenditures (CAPEX), improved time to market, reduced inventory, and improved productivity. All these initiatives are extending existing standards to enable new ways to thread business processes within the factory and the entire industry value chain. Countries and companies around the world are eager to adopt digitalization strategies and standardization because it levels the playing field for smaller companies, so they can reap the same benefits as bigger companies and remain globally competitive and relevant.

These initiatives are not creating new standards; they are classifying how best to use existing standards, identifying gaps, and coordinating with working groups to close those gaps. These initiatives are performing an important motivation, influence, and leadership role, but the actual evolution of standards for smart manufacturing is being done in standard developing organizations such as IEEE, IEC, ISO, and ISA.

It is important for organizations to be involved and participate in the development of standards that will shape the future of technological development. Besides benefitting the industry, leading and participating in the most impactful standards can enhance the reputation of organizations. Maintaining an active role also helps to mitigate the potential risks of falling behind on the adoption of important industry standards. Organizations should include standards participation as a part of their strategic goals.

Why standards matter

Any digitalization or connected enterprise deployment and strategy will leverage the best of the international standards that define smart manufacturing today. Looking at only one country’s initiative provides a limited view of the global movement; the view should be focused on global standards to understand the full impact.

It’s the standards behind the initiative that make the difference. National initiatives and industry consortia are monitored and enhanced so companies can leverage the best of future international standards as they emerge. From a manufacturing or industrial operations standpoint, this allows companies to be more productive, sustainable, and flexible. 

Mike Hannah is the market development lead for Rockwell Automation’s connected enterprise and smart manufacturing initiative. Hannah is also a MESA International smart manufacturing working group member. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

ONLINE extra

See additional stories from MESA International linked below.

Original content can be found at