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Manufacturing Readiness Assessments

AETM 022

DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

A structured evaluation of a technology, component, manufacturing process, weapon system or subsystem using Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs). It is performed to define the current level of manufacturing maturity, identify maturity shortfalls and associated costs and risks and to provide the basis for manufacturing maturation and risk management.

Alternate Definition

According to the Glossary of Defense Acquisition Acronyms and Terms, Manufacturing Readiness Assessments (MRAs) are defined as, “A structured evaluation of a technology, component, manufacturing process, weapon system or subsystem using Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs). It is performed to define the current level of manufacturing maturity, identify maturity shortfalls and associated costs and risks and to provide the basis for manufacturing maturation and risk management.” MRLs are defined as, “A measure used to assess the maturity of a given technology, component or system from a manufacturing prospective. The purpose of MRLs is to provide decision makers at all levels with a common understanding of the relative maturity and attendant risks associated with the manufacturing technologies, products, and processes under consideration. There are ten MRLs, with MRL 1 being the least mature and MRL 10 being the most mature.”
According to MIL-HDBK-896A (25 August 2016), MRL Assessments “were developed by OSD’s Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel” with the intent “to create a measurement scale that would serve the same purpose for manufacturing readiness as Technology Readiness Levels serve for technology readiness – to provide a common metric and vocabulary for assessing and discussing manufacturing maturity, risk, and readiness. MRLs were designed with a numbering system to be roughly congruent with comparable levels of TRLs for synergy and ease of understanding and use.”

General Information

MRA Applicability: For Major Capability Acquisition (MCA) pathway programs, in accordance with DoDI 5000.85, the acquisition strategy must demonstrate the Program Manager's understanding of "manufacturing and quality approach and risks."  Also, Milestone B requires final demonstration that all sources of risk have been adequately mitigated to include "technology, threat projections, security, engineering, integration, manufacturing, sustainment and cost risk.”  DoD guidance continues that “The EMD Phase will end when … manufacturing processes have been effectively demonstrated and are under control. (Para. 3.11.b.6)” and that Milestone C decisions are made in part based on “any significant manufacturing risks (Para. 3.12.b).” Further, proceeding to the Full-Rate Production “requires control of the manufacturing process … (Para. 3.14).”

MRAs are also applicable to other acquisition pathways, as well. The DoD MRL Deskbook states, that "In general, MRL Assessments are not required for Business Systems or Defense Acquisition of Services but are considered “best practice” for Major Capability Acquisition, Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) and Urgent Capability Acquisitions (UCA) pathways. Manufacturing risk management plays an integral part in the acquisition of all weapon systems throughout their entire life cycle. DoDI 5000.88, Engineering of Defense Systems requires both Systems Engineering reviews and Independent Technical Risk Assessments (ITRA). As defined in the DoD ITRA Framework, MRL Assessments can be used as a “best practice” to inform the ITRA. Chapter 3 of the DoD MRL Deskbook provides more detailed use of MRAs and MRLs for the MCA, MTA  and UCA pathways.

MRAs are tools that help determine the risk areas and develop maturation plans to address those risks. According to the MRL Deskbook, “The purpose of an assessment of manufacturing readiness utilizing the MRL criteria is to analyze current conditions and to identify manufacturing risks in order to assist the program/project manager in creating a plan or options to reduce or remove those risks. Identifying risk is a key part of developing mitigation efforts; it is a key enabler of program success.”

 

MRA Conduct:
The MRL Deskbook (Chapter 4) advocates an 8-step approach to conducting MRAs per the following diagram:

 

 

Successful manufacturing has many dimensions. These dimensions, referred to as MRL threads, have been organized into nine manufacturing risk areas: Technology and the Industrial Base, Design, Cost and Funding, Materials, Process Capability and Control, Quality, Manufacturing Workforce (Engineering and Production), Facilities, and Manufacturing Management. Chapter 2 of the MRL Deskbook explains that “Many of the MRL threads have been decomposed into sub-threads. This enables a more detailed understanding of manufacturing readiness and risk, thereby ensuring continuity in maturing manufacturing from one level to the next.” Criteria for each of these threads and their respective sub-threads can be found in the latest MRL Criteria Matrix on the DoD MRL site.

 

Program/project personnel are likely to need training and additional information. The DoD’s Manufacturing Technology Program keeps an up-to-date website, dodmrl.com that features the latest MRL Deskbook, interactive users guide, criteria matrix (for the 10 MRLs), government and company MRL expert contact lists, available tools and training and working group information. Also, application guidance for MRAs can also be found in the Systems Engineering Guidebook found on the AAF website.