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MESA White Paper #35: Using Metrics to Diagnose and Solve Business Problems

All manufacturers, regardless of size or industry, are under constant pressure to improve performance due to many factors including global competition and the recent global recession. Solving process problems on the shop floor to improve quality and productivity has been considered a priority in recent years, and certainly a challenge to achieve. However, the growing use of information from metrics can significantly aid in identifying potential root cause(s) to specific problems, leading to significant opportunities for performance improvement.

MESA has initiated several studies on metrics over the past years to illustrate how metrics help enterprises to attain better performance. Several working groups have tackled different aspects of how metrics are used by different manufacturers in order to derive and document the best practices in this field.

This white paper is the result of a study conducted to evaluate how several different manufacturers successfully used metrics to diagnose and solve issues in their plants.

This paper outlines the different processes involved in harnessing the power of metrics
• the selection of key business problems,
• the identification of the right metrics to represent them, and
• the actual management of performance using these metrics.

In particular, this paper will provide examples and share recommendations based upon how these manufacturers effectively use their metrics information to diagnose problems, change practices, and achieve real, measurable improvements in their operations.

The first part of this paper provides general background information on metrics, supporting data, reporting frequency, and processes to identify the right metrics for the right issues. The main section covers the processes used by manufacturers to manage performance using these metrics, including data flow, baseline, notification, preventive & corrective actions, and improvement goals. The paper concludes with the key factors to successfully implement metrics for diagnostics.

Date Published: August 2010


  1. Steven Kaplan – MESA Sub-Group Leader, Murata Power Solutions
  2. Mark Collins, Somanco Consulting
  3. Marlene Eeg, Tempo Resources Inc.
  4. Israel Gatt, D.S.D. Data Systems Designers 1989 LTD
  5. Anita Gatti, Brock Solutions Inc.
  6. Konrad Pfadenhauer, Concircle Management Consulting GmbH
  7. Christian-Marc Pouyez, Invensys Operations Management
  8. Steven Spetcher, Sub-Zero / Wolf Appliance
  1. Julie Fraser, Cambashi Inc.
  2. Chad Vincent, Baxter
  3. Jian Xu, National Starch and Chemical Co.
  4. Matt Miller, OSISoft, Inc.
  5. Gary Mintchell, Automation World