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MESA White Paper #58: The Importance of Standards in Smart Manufacturing

The economies of scale obtained through standardization of utilities and transportation infrastructure, and the success of commercial manufacturing equipment contributed to the revolutionary productivity increases of the second and third industrial revolutions. 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.

Trying to standardize on a single vendor to obtain interoperability is a short-sighted approach. It does not scale beyond the company's four walls. An API centric approach is needed for multi-tier value chain connectivity. The weight of this evolutionary effort is not fully carried by hardware and software vendors, manufacturers must do their part and embrace data exchange standards for future Smart Manufacturing.

The path to Smart Manufacturing might start with projects using proprietary integration. But organizations must soon move to form "clubs" of partners with integration agreements, and eventually move to get industry standards in place to support a multi-tier value chain with plug-and-play connectivity among most hardware and software vendors.

It behooves organizations to (i) learn more about evolving data exchange standards, (ii) choose vendors involved with standards, (iii) involve themselves in the evolution of standards as part of a corporate strategy to evolve their value chain and be ready to join their customer's future ecosystem.

This report makes the business case for standards and lists some important resources to get your organization started including a list of potential groups to join, learn from, and develop enhanced standards for Smart Manufacturing including IIC, CESMII, DMDII, ISO, IEC, ISA, OAGi, OPC, MIMOSA, MESA and NIST.

Date Published: February 2018


  1. Mike Hannah, Market Development for The Connected Enterprise at Rockwell Automation
  2. Conrad Leiva, Chair of the Smart Manufacturing Working Group at MESA International (, and VP Product Strategy and Alliances at iBASEt
  3. Dave Noller, Executive Architect Watson IoT (Blockchain & Industry 4.0) at IBM
  1. Dennis Brandl, Chief Consultant at BR&L Consulting
  2. Evan Wallace, Systems Integration Researcher and Standards Developer at NIST
  3. Frank Riddick, Computer Scientist at NIST
  4. Miguel Corcio, Senior Manager of Smart Manufacturing & Technical Projects at CESMII