MESA International Announces Smart Manufacturing Conference 2017 Dates

MESA International Announces Smart Manufacturing Conference 2017 Dates

MESA International

MESA International has found a willing home for its annual North American conference once again aligning with the IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology (M&T) Conference & Expo. Both events will be held at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, May 8 – 10, 2017.  Registration for the global MESA community is now open.

I remember when one of the early leaders of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition was worried that it would lose its branding for Smart Manufacturing. Lately I’ve held conversations with marketing directors in the industry who use the SM term in a more or less generic way. So that leader was correct—Smart Manufacturing has become a phrase in alignment with other global phrases such as Industrie 4.0.

Saying that, the theme of the MESA North American Conference is “The Real Value of Smart Manufacturing” and will focus on highlighting the quantified business value realized by practitioners who have implemented “Smart” solutions.  The MESA event will have one dedicated track of speakers and a pre-conference networking and problem-solving workout within the IndustryWeek M&T schedule-of-events. MESA will also have a booth in the M&T Expo, International and Americas Board-of-Directors meetings, committee and Working Group collaboration and networking opportunities for the global MESA community.  Event information is available here.

Commenting on the event, Stephanie Mikelbrencis, Chair of MESA’s Americas Board, said, “The business leaders who read IndustryWeek want to know how to demystify Smart Manufacturing.  I encourage them to join us in Cleveland to learn and to interact with others on the same journey to improved operations and business performance.”

The three-day IndustryWeek M&T Show brings together over 1,200+ senior manufacturers, 100+ exhibitors and 50+ conference sessions across eight tracks in manufacturing operations and design engineering. Conference content focuses on the key elements of advanced manufacturing: technology integration, leadership, operational excellence, design/engineering, talent development and supply chain.

Mike Yost, MESA President, added, “This is our 3rd year formally co-locating our NA Conference with IndustryWeek because it’s our opportunity to connect a company’s drive for continuous improvement to the IT-based solutions that can empower them.  If your ‘Manufacturing-IT Strategy’ and the expected business value aren’t clear to everyone in your organization, you need to get your teams to this event.”

About MESA
MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) International is a global, not-for-profit community of manufacturers, producers, industry leaders and solution providers who are focused on improving Operations Management capabilities through the effective application of Information Technologies, IT-based solutions and best practices.  Goals:

  • Enable members to connect, contribute, cultivate understanding, and exchange strategies to drive operations excellence.
  • Collect, share, and publish best practices and guidance to drive greater productivity and the overall profitability of the manufacturing enterprise.
  • Educate the marketplace on manufacturing operations best practices through the MESA Global Education Program.


Leadership Training–Just BS?

Leadership Training–Just BS?

On my other blog, I write about leadership regularly on Fridays. I saw an article that came through an email newsletter that spurred some thinking. See if you relate to this.

You got shipped off to some type of leadership training. Maybe it was for work. Maybe for church. Maybe for another type of organization.

You attended the training. It was long. The coffee was less than satisfactory. The pastries were stale. The leader was pumped up on something that made him or her optimistic to the point of causing gagging. You recorded a bunch of cute sayings from old leaders in your conference notebook. The talks seemed like they belonged in some sort of old-fashioned tent revival meeting.

You went home. The boss asks what you learned. You show her the notebook with notes.

Nothing changes.

I have been to so many of these that I’m lucky to be able to lead a kid to a candy store!

So the article title on the email newsletter caught my eye. Why Leadership Training Is So Much BS. It is in a manufacturing trade journal called Industry Week written by an acquaintance, Steve Minton. He interviewed Jeffrey Pfeffer author of Leadership B.S.: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time (Harper Business, September 2015). I’ll have to buy the book, now. Maybe I can score an interview.

Minton writes:

“But a steady diet of inspiration fables, Pfeffer warns, also misleads and does little to improve organizations.” He contrasts the state of leadership training with medical education, which strives to base its teaching on carefully measured studies and their results.

“No wonder medical science has made significant strides in treating many diseases while leadership as it is practiced daily all over the world has continued to produce a lot of disengaged, dissatisfied, and disaffected employees,” he writes.

What can businesses do to improve their leadership development efforts? Pfeffer told IndustryWeek that companies first need to change their evaluation criteria. Too much development work either is not evaluated or evaluated on the basis of enjoyment of the course.

“What are we trying to accomplish in leadership development? If we are trying to attain higher levels of employee engagement, higher levels of trust in leaders, higher levels of job satisfaction, lower levels of turnover, more people succeeding and having more people ready for leadership positions, then those are criteria you ought to use to evaluate your efforts,” he stresses, “not whether or not people had a good time, whether or not they liked the donuts, whether or not they thought the speaker was inspiring.”

Companies must also have people teaching these programs who have at least some expertise in leadership, he adds.

I continue to see people go off to leadership training only to memorize stories and tips. Putting the knowledge into practice is left to chance.

Thinking about various leadership training experiences I’ve had, I’d have to agree about using some sort of science. There was a class in 1981 that has stayed with me–and experience has proved it over again. The trainer displayed a 2×2 matrix. Feel for people (good, poor) versus Intellectual control of emotions (good, poor). Top performing leaders? Feel for people didn’t matter much. Intellectual control of emotions was the key ingredient.

Other than that, I’ve found that better leadership training is done in smaller groups over time. This allows time for trial and error and feedback.

Think Yoda teaching the young Jedi Luke Skywalker.

Find your Yoda. Or, find your Luke.

Me? I’m looking for another Luke to bring along.

Leadership Training–Just BS?

Internet of Things, Fieldbus, and Politicians

There are a couple of interesting notes I’ve picked up recently.

Before I get to the first one, I took a long weekend and attended a conference on developing small businesses in developing nations. I met some successful business people who have a passion for helping others survive and thrive in difficult places.

We have learned (or should have) that sending huge chunks of aid money to developing countries has had little effect on changing people’s lives. A significant number of people engage in going to these areas and starting businesses, employing local people, treating all of them ethically, and making a profit for all involved.

If you wish to use your business and/or engineering talents to directly impact people, send me a note. I will get you in touch with the right people.

Are Democrats Throwing In the Towel On Manufacturing

Bill Waddell writes about Lean manufacturing. He is a practitioner and an evangelist. About the only place where he and I part ways relates to accounting. He is a Lean accounting follower. I follow Resource Consumption accounting.

At any rate, Industry Week ran an article authored by the Alliance of American Manufacturing asking if the Democratic Party had thrown in the towel regarding the importance of manufacturing in America.

Waddell responded with his typical acerbic wit by taking political leaders in America (both parties) to task for misunderstanding economics and manufacturing’s place at the table.

If you are a manufacturing professional, I dare you to put aside your party preference blinders for a second and just look at what politicians have to say about manufacturing. Comments are by-and-large ignorant (in the sense of not knowing something).

Where do they get it? Try reading articles about manufacturing in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. They also have trouble really understanding what’s going on in manufacturing. Those are two sources of information for politicians.

Drones And Internet of Things

Interesting article in Uptime magazine poses the idea of drones as a part of the infrastructure for the Internet of Things. At the time I write this, the article has not made it from print to Web, so I cannot link to it. Hey Terry, try “Web first” journalism 😉

Expanding our thinking about what constitutes “sensing” and how we get the information is a great service to the industry. As we move past the buzz of IoT and start to look for innovative ways to get the information we need, these ideas are needed.

Modbus as Fieldbus?

John Rezebek, a Foundation Fieldbus evangelist and process control engineer writing in Control magazine takes Grant Le Sueur of Schneider Electric (Foxboro) to task for making a comment about Modbus as a fieldbus.

Schneider Electric became the owner (or leader) of Modbus when it acquired Modicon almost 20 years ago. And Modbus was long in the tooth then. So it was an interesting comment.

However, Foundation is difficult to use. It perhaps tried to solve too many problems in one package. Modbus is too slow and lacking bandwidth for much of what we do in process control and in the Internet of Things for industrial/manufacturing use.

One thing I find surprising about trying to reinvigorate Modbus is that Schneider (again from absorbing Modicon an early Ethernet supporter) became an ODVA member supposedly to support the CIP protocol and EtherNet/IP. Wonder what’s going on there? I’m writing a post for next week about that protocol’s growth in process.

Check out John’s comments and let us know what you think. Is there a third way? Are we still lacking an adequate fieldbus? (OK, Carl, open mic night 😉 ).

Leadership Training–Just BS?

Manufacturing Industry Consolidation

What Does It Mean When An Industry Consolidates?

For companies in the control and automation space, as well as manufacturing in general, acquisitions power growth.

Rockwell Automation became a factor in process automation through a number of strategic acquisitions. Siemens fulfills its digital manufacturing vision through acquisitions. ABB, until recently, pursued a growth by acquisition strategy. Schneider Electric, keeping pace with European rivals swallowed Invensys—and much to my surprise seems intent on not only keeping but even building its software presence.

What is the result of acquisitions in an industry? Consolidation. And the result of consolidation? Less competition.

Writing in Industry Week Michael Collins, president of MPC Consulting, asks, Is Manufacturing Industry Consolidation Stifling Competition and Innovation?

That is a fair question. I have been surveying the industry in the two years after leaving Automation World (and Maintenance Technology, where I stayed briefly) looking for what’s new and interesting. The latest cool startup was ThingWorx, which sold to PTC. There are companies doing instrumentation, control and automation well, but not much really new or innovative.

Collins tries out a definition, “Capitalism is a free market system that is supposed to promote competition. In capitalist theory, competition leads to innovation and more affordable prices for consumers. Without competition, a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel may develop.”

This statement contains an amount of belief, but it does describe a market economy in keeping with the 18th Century “liberals” who valued “liberty” over government. The economic theory superseded mercantilism where the government picked winners and losers.

Wishing for more government regulation, Collins reviews history, “This formation of monopolies and oligopolies also occurred in the Gilded Age, when the robber barons controlled entire industries, including oil, railroads, steel and the telegraph. The consolidation did not stop until President Theodore Roosevelt broke up the monopolies using antitrust legislation.”

Today’s monopolies/oligopolies

Collins then surveys today’s consolidations:

  1. Airlines
  2. Banks–“In 1995, the six biggest U.S. banks had assets equal to 18% of GDP. Today, they hold assets of about 63% of GDP.
  3. Search Engines–The search engine business is dominated by Google, which, according to Forbes, owns 90% of the market in non-mobile search worldwide.
  4. Media Companies–In 1983, 50 companies controlled the vast majority of news media including newspaper, magazines, radio and TV stations, books, movies, videos, and wire services. Consolidation reduced the original number to 24 companies by 1992 and to six companies by 2000. Today, five corporations—Time Warner, Disney, News Corp., Bertelsmann (of Germany) and Viacom control the majority of the U.S. media industry.
  5. Hospitals

Manufacturing industries also have consolidated:

  1. Meat Packers–In 1982, the five largest meatpackers controlled 16% of the meat industry. Today four firms control 85% of the beef market, an oligopoly that includes National Beef, Cargill, Tyson, and JBS (which purchased Swift).
  2. Microsoft
  3. Intel
  4. Beer–At that time (1970s), there were 43 firms making beer, and the largest had 25% of the market. Today two firms—Anheuser Busch and Miller/Coors—own 90% of the non-craft beer market.
  5. Autos–The auto industry is now a global industry where five multinational companies have 50% of the world market. The top 10 auto manufacturers control 70% of the world market. [Note: and now the Chrysler CEO is drumming up support for a merger with GM.]
  6. Oil and Gas–Exxon merged with Mobil Oil and Conoco merged with Phillips. Along with Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, these four giants have 70% of all oil produced in the U.S. (1,919 barrels).

Collins concludes:

I think it is in the DNA of capitalism to create oligopolies and monopolies, and they can only be restricted by government regulation.

Gary Responds

Often consolidation is a reflection of a mature industry. Not much is happening. It’s an industry ripe for disruption.

A number of entrepreneurs are trying innovative airline models. Who knows when one will “take off”, so to speak?

Doctors are forming small companies, removing outpatient surgery and other services out of the hospitals.

Brewery consolidation means companies run by finance people rather than product people. While many will buy according to price even if the taste is not there, the interesting end of the market is now wide open among small craft brewers. When I travel, I always ask for the local beer.

Microsoft is being pressured by Linux in the enterprise and smartphone and tablet products in the low end. Google docs are a viable alternative to Office.

Intel is pressured on many sides with new competition.

Software as a Service models are pressuring the major automation software companies. And open source hardware and software threaten disruption of those markets.

Innovation often comes from outside the dominant market leader group. It is difficult to predict. But there is no doubt disruption is occurring. What’s that famous phrase? “The future is here, just not evenly distributed.” Yep.

MESA International Announces Smart Manufacturing Conference 2017 Dates

Manufacturing IT Event Plans Unveiled

MESA International

MESA International

Just in from MESA International regarding its 2015 conferences. Yes, that’s plural. MESA has partnered with Industry Week magazine for several years in order to participate with the IndustryWeek Best Plants Conference & Expo.

The thinking goes along the lines that this venue attracts attendees whose positions include plant manager to director of manufacturing. These are the people most interested in the direction of the company’s Manufacturing IT direction and implementation.

The Americas Board-of-Directors for MESA International announced its North America events include plans to co-locate its annual conference within the IndustryWeek Best Plants (IWBP) Conference & Expo. The MESA conference will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, May 4 – 6, 2015. Registration for the MESA community will open mid-December 2014.

The theme of the MESA North American Conference is “Advancing. Manufacturing. IT.” and will focus on highlighting the business value of solving plant and enterprise-level manufacturing challenges with Information Technology (IT)-based solutions.

The MESA event consists of one dedicated track of speakers within the IWBP schedule-of-events, an exhibitors’ pavilion (the MESA ‘Manufacturing Meets IT’ Pavilion) within the IWBP Expo hall, and several MESA unConference sessions in Monday’s IWBP pre-conference workshops.

Commenting on the decision to co-locate with IWBP, Dennis Brandl, Chairman of MESA’s Americas Board, said, “The business leaders who read IndustryWeek want to know how modern Information Technologies, when properly understood and utilized in their operations, can change their manufacturing business for the better. I encourage them to join us in North Carolina to learn how leading companies are using advanced manufacturing IT solutions and to interact with others on the same journey to improved operations.”

Future Process Industry Plans

MESA is currently looking for the right venues and locations in the second half of 2015 that address the diverse makeup of its members. Brandl added, “Batch and continuous processes are equally important to MESA as is discrete manufacturing. Many companies have combinations of all of these processes, and supporting the right events that represent the breadth of these processes is the right way to cement and advance the MESA community.”

Commenting on the events plans in North America for 2015, Mike Yost, MESA President, said, “Everyone has a ‘Manufacturing-IT Strategy’. If it’s not clear to everyone in your organization – including the business value of your approach – you need to know the industry professionals that make up the MESA community. So, mark your calendar for May and stay tuned for more details about a fall event.”

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