News Mesa Conference

I’m still getting caught up (sort of). The bad news is that I’m at the United Club (new name for combined President’s Club and Red Carpet Club) at LAX. I’m going to visit Weftec to scope out automation’s role in the water industry. Also will meet with a bunch of people.

Since I’m here, I’m not at ISA Automation Week or SMRP. If there are any loyal readers who would like to send a report from one of those, please send me an email — or I suppose you could just comment.

I never gave the MESA conference of three or four weeks ago more than a short mention. The conference was well attended; although I get the vibes that MESA organizers would like to attract a higher level of attendee. Instead of director and manager level–the practitioners who buy and implement albeit on the plant level, MESA leaders have voiced the opinion that they would like to attract “C-level” executives, you know, CIO, CFO and the like. The idea is that these executives need to be “educated” about the importance of MES/MOM. We’ll see how that goes in the future

MESA Executive Report

John Southcott, MESA chair, recognized Mike James as Contributor of the Year for heading up the education effort. He announced that the executive board has erected “Four Pillars” of strategy for the coming year. These include:
Global Education Program with its certification processes
Membership Development Focus
Generating new content every month for the Web site and members
Step up marketing – “We are an unknown organization. We’ve found users at the conference asking for help in selling internally. We need to get the word out.”

During the conference, Microsoft announced a Chemical and Oil Refining Industries Reference Architecture. The intent is to detail a stable platform for developing solutions based upon Microsoft technologies for application development in these industries.

Chris Gaffney, SVP Coca Cola Refreshments, gave the second day keynote detailing his company’s Demand -Driven Journey. This entailed developing IT support for an organization change embracing a customer-centric supply chain. This means identifying real-time demand signals and adapting manufacturing to “make what we can sell rather than sell what we make.” Selling to more outlets with more variability requires faster manufacturing response with the ability to adapt product and packaging quickly. One key tip–run pilot implementations before rollout.


The conference once again featured several “Unconference” sessions. These are gatherings of people interested in discussing a topic. There are no powerpoints and no designated speaker. A designated facilitator records thoughts and gently guides discussion if someone’s comments become inappropriate or wildly off topic.

I facilitated a session on social media for business use. Some of the questions we raised and discussions included:

  • Sharepoint
  • How do you get people to use social media?
  • It was noted that MESA committees are making good use of Sharepoint.
  • Build communities using subnets.
  • Blogs to customers.
  • Blogs for internal communication.
  • Internal blogs to disseminate lessons learned – knowledge base.
  • Wiki for mass collaboration.
  • How do you gain traction for your twitter account, blog, community’?

Join Stack Exchange Group
Then we learned that one of the participants, Gaute Grastveit from Norway, had developed a question and answer industrial automation software site on Stack Exchange–the open community based on the wildly successful programmers’ site Stack Overflow by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood. Please join Industrial Automation Group.

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