Follow MESA's Smart Manufacturing Roadmap and learn best practices from project planning through completion.

This content is developed by MESA's Smart Manufacturing Working Group and Smart Manufacturing Community Groups who meet to discuss best practices and then create modern, peer-reviewed educational resources to help you on your journey. Join in on the discussions, join them today!


"Smart Manufacturing is the intelligent, real-time orchestration and optimization of business, physical and digital processes within factories and across the entire value chain. Resources and processes are automated, integrated, monitored and continuously evaluated based on all available information as close to real-time as possible." _MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group


Article: The Smart Manufacturing Elevator Pitch, Literally!  Breaking down the elements of this definition in 3 minutes.

 "Smart Manufacturing is the intelligent, real-time orchestration and optimization of business, physical and digital  processes within factories and across the entire value chain."

Research Report: Seeking Common Ground for Smart Manufacturing   In these early days of Smart Manufacturing, there is plenty we can learn from each other. This report of on-line survey results from 384 manufacturing respondents is just the beginning of exploring common ground, in an effort to move forward more rapidly as an industry. Manufacturers are expecting significant benefits from their Smart Manufacturing initiatives; some are familiar, others are more ground-breaking. While many have their own name for it, many see the concepts converging on Smart Manufacturing. This survey explores areas of agreement and divergence in current initiatives and shows that manufacturers are leveraging a wide array of technologies and approaches for their Smart Manufacturing projects.

White Paper 52: "Smart Manufacturing - The Landscape Explained"   This paper discusses the drivers, goals, opportunities and challenges related to the Smart Manufacturing roadmap for manufacturers. The paper also discusses initiatives by multiple organizations that bring together manufacturers, technologies and information systems, organizations like MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Systems Association), the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), Industrie 4.0, and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), are working on initiatives to coordinate the convergence of technologies and realize the process improvement potential sooner rather than later.  Member Only White Paper  |  Public Excerpt from White Paper 

Webcast: Three Dimensions Converge on Smart Manufacturing – Digital Thread, Smart Factory, Value Chain

The Smart Manufacturing endeavor requires collaboration among many different stakeholders in the organization including engineering, operations and business management. Each comes to the discussion table with different perspectives which must converge to achieve the revolutionary productivity goals of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing. This presentation covers a three-dimensional model that explains the intersection of several initiatives included under the scope of Smart Manufacturing: IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), Digital Thread, and Connected Enterprise. This model can serve as the basis of organizing discussions and roadmaps for your organization’s journey to a Smart Manufacturing future.

White Paper 59: Three Functional Dimensions Converge On Smart Manufacturing   There are a myriad of new technologies coming into the manufacturing arena, each with attractive value propositions. How does an organization navigate the complexity of different organizational perspectives, data models and business processes that converge at manufacturing operations? This paper discusses how to organize the convergence of processes supporting Smart Manufacturing into three dimensions: smart factory, digital thread and value chain management. These different dimensions relate to different perspectives and systems coming from engineering, operations and business management disciplines, and help explain why the Smart Manufacturing endeavor requires collaboration among many different stakeholders in the organization.

Online Course: The Journey to Smart Manufacturing Great overview of Smart Manufacturing for all departments to get on the same page before or during implementation.      


Article: What is C-Suite Executives Need to Know About Smart Manufacturing  C-suite executives tend to delegate manufacturing strategy to the manufacturing experts and IT strategy to the technology experts. Historically, that was a good strategy. Now, with the emergence of new technologies that collectively comprise what's known as smart manufacturing or " Industrie 4.0," it's time for C-suite executives to reconsider their hands-off approach. 

Webcast: Smart Manufacturing: Continuous Improvement or Strategic Transformation? Are organizations tackling Smart Manufacturing as an extension of Lean and Six Sigma continuous improvements or are they establishing a strategic business transformation initiative? A survey conducted by IndustryWeek and MESA International uncovered that many manufacturers are getting started on the journey to Smart Manufacturing but they are taking different paths to get there. Our four panelists are no exception. What are the views of their organizations? Discussion topics include: Drivers to jump on the Smart Manufacturing transformation, tips on driving the transformation required, and pitfalls to avoid along the journey. 

Article: The Problems Smart Manufacturing Solves for The C-Suite via Forbes Smart Manufacturing is really about running -- and growing -- the business. These Technologies are vital to achieving the strategic objectives of the business, including improving customer service, achieving operational efficiencies, innovating for the future, reducing risk, meeting standards and regulations, and improving company management. 

Online Course: Smart Manufacturing Justification and ROI Take this course and get the tools you need to prove ROI for your Smart Manufacturing project. Great for finance departments and sales professionals as well as executives and project managers.


Presentation: MESA early discussions on Smart Manufacturing  Take a peak
of some of the ideas discussed on aspirations for the future of the connected looklikesm.jpgmanufacturing value chain. The consensus in this session was that lack of investment capital is not a major barrier. So... what are the real 

Article: What is "Smart about Smart Manufacturing The article explains the goals and characteristics of projects that pursue a Smart Manufacturing future. Like Lean Manufacturing defined goals to eliminate waste, Smart Manufacturing sets goals for new levels of connectivity and orchestration in the entire manufacturing ecosystem.



Article: How to Get Started With Smart Manufacturing

In the old days, computer architectures in manufacturing were just as hierarchical as the company organizations. The smart manufacturing architecture is just the opposite. It’s completely flat, just like the internet. So, how do you get started with smart manufacturing, whether or not you're a flat organization? The good news is you can start just about anywhere.


Recorded Presentation: "Smart Manufacturing - The Journey Ahead" 

Here's a roadmap for manufacturers on how to get started on the journey to Smart Manufacturing.

    1. Review Business Structure for Future Market Strategy
    2. Establish Evolution Milestones for the Journey
    3. Nurture New Culture around New Vision 
    4. Build Partnerships to Support the New Vision
    5. Address Skills Gap for Knowledge Workers
    6. Evolve the Information Technology Infrastructure

Recorded Panel Discussion: Tips on Starting the Smart Manufacturing Journey – From Workshop Discussions at the MESA Conference

Topics discussed by the panel include:

  • Drivers, priorities, and corporate alignment
  • IT versus OT/Automation leadership
  • Experimentation and implementation approaches
  • Build vs buy, and single vs multi-vendor decisions

Article: How to Achieve Smart Manufacturing The goals for a Smart Manufacturing infrastructure are set and the enabling building blocks are discussed including the need for adoption of standards for M2M, A2A, and B2B communications that allow secure Internet and cloud services connectivity, and new skills for the workforce that is going to establish and maintain these new infrastructures and business strategies. 

MESA White Paper #58: The Importance of Standards in Smart Manufacturing   We are now counting on the evolution of standards to pave the infrastructure required for Smart Manufacturing and the realization of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Besides efficiency, speed and cost reduction, the benefits of data exchange standards include architecture flexibility, ubiquitous data access, and higher levels of security. White Paper (open to non-members) | Webcast

Get involved in the MESA Smart Manufacturing Working Group  Smart Manufacturing won't happen without people exchanging ideas and collaborating across the operations, automation and information technology ranks.  They're not simple discussions, but we're the right people to drive them, and we encourage you to join us. 

Check out MESA's Smart Manufacturing Community Groups who meet around specific subtopics within the Smart Manufacturing landscape. Their research helps contribute to the body of knowledge of the Working Group.

And our online courses are packed with information to help you learn Smart Manufacturing on your own time.


Article: Improving Trust in the Smart Manufacturing Supply Chain
In order to meet customer demands, meet traceability requirements and comply with regulations, food manufacturers are turning to technology solutions to modernize the supply chain communication, coordination, and data flow. Lessons learned from this example in the food industry can be applied to other industry supply chains. 

Article: Five Hurdles to Smart Manufacturing  hurdlessm.jpgThe implementation of Smart Manufacturing information technology frameworks and applications will be essential to achieving the goals but obstacles to delivering the vision include: 

    1. Data contextualization
    2. Underfunded and overwhelmed IT: 
    3. Change Management practices
    4. Legacy IT and OT separation
    5. Disparate silo systems
Article: "Smart Manufacturing Isn't So Smart Without Standards"   Communications and messaging standards spur the adoption of new technologies, products and manufacturing methods. Standards allow a more dynamic and competitive marketplace, without hampering the opportunity to differentiate. Development of standards reduces the risks for enterprises developing and implementing solutions to accelerate adoption of new manufactured products and manufacturing methods. Several contributors from NIST (National Institute of Standards) give us a summary of the state of standards needed to support Smart Manufacturing initiatives. 

Article: "The State of MES in the Age of Smart Manufacturing   MES continues to evolve to address the challenge of more real-time data, integration and automation. Auto-ID technologies, cloud computing, mobile, augmented reality, and advanced analytics are all being integrated into MES. For these manufacturers, MES has become a foundational element of Smart Manufacturing enabling enhanced digital thread, cost analysis, repeatable processes, and assisted decision making. The state of MES is better than it has ever been, and the next 20 years are going to be spectacular.

MESA White Paper #60: Smart Manufacturing and Cloud Computing   This paper explores how Cloud Computing can help achieve the Smart Manufacturing goals to optimize processes inside the factory, as well as across the supply chain, whether the manufacturer wants to embrace a full or hybrid cloud infrastructure model. This paper includes examples of different options, from performing analysis via cloud services, to putting enterprise systems that are not closely attached to machine processes on the cloud, like inventory management. Each example exercises different infrastructure and security techniques. Different types of cloud services are available to leverage into a Smart Manufacturing strategy and each organization will leverage them in different ways and in different stages of their journey.

Article: “The Value of MES to Your Smart Manufacturing Transformation”   This article discusses how MES fits into the Smart Manufacturing journey as a foundational enterprise system, along with PLM and ERP, integrated into one digital thread and one system of systems. 

Benefits achieved with MES within Smart Manufacturing and the Digital Thread include:

    1. Automatic data collection
    2. Repeatability
    3. Control
    4. Digitized records
    5. Making better-informed decisions

Article: "How 'Smart' are We in Manufacturing Today?"   A prior article discussed that Smart Manufacturing is not very "smart" if not using communication standards to connect equipment, people and processes in the manufacturing enterprise. This article discusses the reality of adoption of integration standards in manufacturing based on a MESA and IDC Manufacturing Insights survey. The survey was sent to both manufacturers and vendors that provide equipment and software to manufacturing, and the results are shared below.

Article: "A Checklist for Cybersecurity in Industrial Internet of Things"   To realize the vision of Smart Manufacturing and Industrial IoT (IIoT) organizations recognize that information created by connecting industrial control systems to the enterprise business systems is achieving greater visibility into their operations, all helping to make significant operational improvements.  These initiatives require seamless and secure flow of information from the machines and equipment, to the lines, to the people, to the plants, and to the enterprise levels.  This article discusses the challenges and approaches being worked by several industry consortia groups to tackle this convergence and connected enterprise.

Article: "Why and How to Use Production Process Management in Smart Manufacturing"   Business processes in today's typical manufacturing environment is, at best, full of information gaps.  Within the major enterprise level systems such as ERP or PLM most processes are based or focused on departmental issues which means the processes are not cross-functional. Business Process Management (BPM) and workflow solutions are a missing link to support Smart Manufacturing across the enterprise.


Case Studies  Check out any of MESA's Smart Story Award entries to learn how IT solutions and data can be used to make smart decisions throughout a product value chain.

Smart Manufacturing World Tour Attend a MESA workshop at a city near you! Or, have MESA host a course or workshop at your event