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MESA Metrics for Major Initiatives Report

Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International and Industry Directions Inc. unveiled the second in a series of studies on Metrics at the MESA Plant2Enterprise Conference in Orlando, FL. Results of the new study Metrics for Major Initiatives: Practices and Metrics for Lean, Total Quality and Real-Time Enterprise Programs shows that many are not practicing what they preach. This validates MESA’s mission of educating manufacturers about best practices. Most manufacturers are actively pursuing Lean (73%) and Total Quality (64%) initiatives, and nearly half are also working on a Real-Time Enterprise initiative (47%).

However, only four specific practices are widely used by over half of the manufacturers claiming to pursue those initiatives today. Further, only three metrics are considered “very effective” across all of these initiatives by a majority of those pursuing them. The four practices in wide use by over half of respondents pursuing each initiative are: 5S workplace organization and standardized work or methods sheets from Lean, and corrective and preventative action (CAPA) and Kaizen from Total Quality (also a Lean practice). While many more practices get some use in all three initiatives, those pursuing them are clearly not making wide use of many of the practices involved. In fact, 30% or more of those pursuing Lean do not even use value-stream mapping, in-plant kanban, just-in-time (JIT) production, small lot sizes, or level load scheduling.

The most commonly used systems to support Real-Time Enterprise are homegrown database or spreadsheet based (82%), quality management (83%), control system software (80%), ERP (76%), and MES (71%). The most common systems or technologies manufacturers do not have today but are planning to buy to support a Real-Time Enterprise initiative are: plant dashboards (29%) business activity monitoring (BAM) (26%) data historians (20%) portals (20%) other collaboration software (20%) Generally, most or all plants use the same performance metrics to gauge the success of these initiatives. However, most do not use industry standard metrics, but rather company or division-wide standards for these metrics.

Quality sees the most use of industry standard definitions or calculations of metrics, at 30%. Respondents generally find only three of the metrics companies use to gauge the success of these initiatives to be very effective.

For Lean, on-time delivery to customer order promise date and on-time to customer request are the only metrics considered very effective by the majority of respondents. In Total Quality, the only measure that most respondents find very effective is defects, and that is a metric even those with an older approach to Quality use. One of the issues identified in last year’s MESA Metrics that Matter study was timeliness of metrics processes. This study again reflects this stumbling block. While many collect metrics data (48%) and can respond to problems that metrics indicate (45%) in a shift’s time or less, only 28% display the metrics every shift or more frequently. The problems preventing faster metrics processes are split between IT challenges, lack of vision or understanding, and business process constraints. Very few indicate a budget issue.

MESA members can overcome some of these challenges by leveraging the organization’s reference center, including pieces such as the Metrics that Matter Guidebook. The MESA model includes initiatives such as Lean, Total Quality, Real-Time Enterprise, Product Lifecycle Management and Total Productive Maintenance. It links these to business operations and to production operations. Moving forward, MESA will create a series of guidebooks explaining best practices for the lifecycle of projects in all of these areas. MESA is the source for operations-centric manufacturing enterprise practices and solutions.

All co-sponsor companies underwriting this MESA Metrics Study provide deep and diverse expertise in plant operations, operational metrics, and plant dashboards and software. These companies are working together to increase the manufacturing market’s understanding of the role metrics play in corporate performance improvement and operational data management. Funding sponsors for this study are: Apriso Corporation (, Camstar Systems (, GE Fanuc Automation ( ), Rockwell Automation (, SAP ( and Wonderware business unit of Invensys