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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.

Manufacturing companies are creating new ecosystems and moving to new business models like mass customization, product-as-a-service, and continuous innovation introduction. This requires proactive management of manufacturing operations across an enterprise and value chain, with resources and processes automated, integrated, monitored and continuously evaluated, based on all available information for timely orchestration and optimized execution.

This is what we call Smart Manufacturing.

Defining it that way, more than half of the respondents to our survey of the IndustryWeek and MESA lists report having Smart Manufacturing projects already in place. These initiatives are typically strategic and enterprise-wide; the primary drivers are executives and operations departments. Manufacturers are expecting significant benefits from their Smart Manufacturing initiatives; some are familiar, others are more ground-breaking.

While most have their own name for it, many see that Smart Manufacturing includes concepts like Connected Factory and Connected Supply Chain, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Digital Manufacturing. Where there is divergence is whether this is an extension of previous continuous improvement (CI) and lean activities, or whether it’s a more radical transformational endeavor.

Manufacturers are leveraging a wide array of technologies and approaches for their Smart Manufacturing projects. They similarly believe different technologies are critical to Smart Manufacturing.

There is common ground, in that most manufacturers have initiated at least one Smart Manufacturing project. Companies are striving for operational efficiencies and lower costs, improved quality and customer response capabilities. What technologies they believe are critical and which they are leveraging varies.

For more great research, check out MESA's Smart Manufacturing Community, here. The Community is free to join for members and nonmembers.

Date Published: June 2018


1. Julie Fraser, Iyno Advisors Inc. 1-508-362-3480; Julie is a lifetime member of MESA International and leads Iyno Advisors to build bridges of understanding between buyers and sellers of IT in manufacturing and its supply chain.
2. Conrad Leiva, iBASEt 1-949-598-5200; Conrad is Chairman of the MESA Smart Manufacturing working group and VP of Product Strategy and Alliances for iBASEt,a leading provider of software solutions to complex, highly regulated industries.
3. Jeffrey Hill, Iyno Advisors, Inc.; 978-969-3808; Jeff heads up on-line research and analysis for Iyno Advisors, building on his long career in IT and as an industry analyst.
  1. Michael Yost / MESA International
  2. Erik Nistad / MESA International
  3. Maryanne Steidinger / Independent