60 seconds with John Southcott
John Southcott, MESA
Title: International chairman, Board of Directors, Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA)
Experience: More than 20 years in the MES industry. Southcott is the newly elected chair of MESA.
Modern: Our information management report this month is on manufacturing execution software, which is the focus of your organization. So, what’s the purpose of MESA?
Southcott: MESA has several areas of focus. First, there’s a real content component to the organization. For the past seven or eight years, we’ve developed a lot of research around best practices, metrics and key performance indicators that help end users get value from their manufacturing execution systems (MES). We provide a membership community that allows people to network around issues. Last, education is our No. 1 initiative for the next two years. We are really working to raise the level of understanding so that we have a more educated end user.
Modern: What is driving the adoption of MES today?
Southcott: There really is renewed interest in MES. My list of catalysts, in no particular order, is an aging workforce; the fact that home-grown manufacturing systems are becoming obsolete; the plant is no longer a black box, so driving more efficiencies is important; and new government regulations are driving the need for traceability. Finally, I think there is a focus by manufacturers on their core operations. They no longer want to be in the business of writing their own custom software programs and are seeing the benefits of a packaged solution.
Modern: For someone who has not looked at an MES for several years, what are three things you’d like them to know about today’s solutions?
Southcott: No. 1: The technology has evolved. That’s a statement of fact. No. 2: MES software is ready for prime time. It works as advertised, and that’s always helpful. No. 3: Big automation companies and organizations like SAP are investing major dollars into this space. When those kinds of suppliers are investing in their products, manufacturers need to pay attention to these solutions. You asked for three, but No. 4 is that end users are seeing real benefits from MES. The business case has become realistic.