MESA raises MES awareness at inaugural seminar

THE first Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) semi nar was held in Australia on 7 September and, according to the MESA Australian Working Group, productivity, ‘competitive ness’ and ‘sustainability’ are the most significant trends for manu facturers in Australia.

Research launched at the semi nar showed the benefits of manu facturing enterprise solutions or MES — the systems that plan, operate, control and report on shop floor activities — are per ceived as very wide by opera tional-level managers.

However, according to MESA Asia Pacific Expansion Committee chairperson Greg Johnson, a better job needs to be done in translating those bene fits to hard return-on-investment for the C-level.

Johnson also says that, accord ing to data gathered at the semi nar, 61% of operations managers plan to expand the systems that plan, operate, control and report on shop-floor activities but only 27% of respondents say that MES has been embraced by the majority of individuals within their organisation.

A mixture of software vendors, consultants and manufacturers attended the inaugural MESA seminar, including Schneider Electric, Siemens and Accenture, and manufacturers BlueScope Steel and Schweppes.

“We had a bout 50 people along to the event, which is a very good turnout,” Johnson told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“This will now become an annual event as the interest is massive out there. There wasn’t much publicity around the event but still people turned up. Next year, we’re aiming to have 100 or even 150 people along.”

According to Johnson, MESA decided to hold the seminar off the back of various trends which have popped-up in the manufacturing industry of late, including increasing adoption of energy management and sustainability systems.

“The whole topic of operations management systems began dur ing Y2K and has grown ever since. It started with your SAPs and Oracles as a way to pull through Y2K, however lately peo ple’s attention is shifting to the processes that happen beneath those layers,” Johnson said.

For Johnson, there is now enough awareness of MES in the marketplace, and the right peo ple still are not aware of the ben efits it can reap.

“There is an interest [in MESA], but higher levels of man agement need to know about it. The current state of the systems and what is possible now is not widely understood. We need to share best practices and raise awareness. People at the opera tions level know about it, but hopefully more people at the CIO level will pay attention in the future.”

According to Johnson, MES can help manufacturers reach their sustainability targets and can also assist with energy and water management.

“MES is about managing your assets, materials and people. All the inputs of the process, includ ing energy and water, along with outputs like emissions, can be tracked and improved with MES. It’s not just about producing more at lower cost: it’s about understanding. It’s essentially about lean manufacturing,” said Johnson.

“My message to manufacturers is that if you’re not investing in your operations management sys tems today then you need to be looking at it. It’s a source of tremendous return-on-investment and is very accessible.”