MESA throws down shopfloor IT gauntlet for 2009

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2009 could be a transformational year for manufacturing, according to the global not for profit organisation, MESA International.

In an open letter, John Dyck, chairman of the MESA (manufacturing execution system association) board, says: "We suggest that it's time for the shop floor – and its ability to make enterprise work processes more responsive and reliable – to get the attention it's been lacking for so long." Dyck asserts that large-scale enterprise IT rollouts became possible largely because of IT's long-term view of standards and its focus on implementation process rigour. He also refers to the evolution of two systems integration ecosystems – one that serves operations (plant-centric) and the other that serves IT (business-centric). "We at MESA contend that for manufacturing to take a significant step forward in terms of productivity and cost competitiveness, all of the constituents in this landscape need to work together," he says. Why? "To better understand the complexities of the workflows on the shop floor and how technology must be applied to identify constraints, provide meaningful and standardized metrics, and dramatically cut costs. "The best practices of the enterprise players need to marry with the wealth of value uncovered and harnessed by the plant players for so many years – and we're proposing that 2009 be the year when the plant floor finally arrives at centre stage. "The brightest minds of industry – yes, from Operations, IT and academia – must join to focus their attention and budgets on this great challenge." Dyck believes that the current economic challenges will prompt different thinking, and "shine the spotlight on some of the less glamorous but high-value solutions that can consistently and dramatically cut costs, reduce waste and reshape our work processes to be more effective".