Changing a process? Ask MOM for help

Change is a fundamental reality of the manufacturing environment. Old products are abandoned. New products are introduced. Processes are improved. Demand fluctuates. Suppliers go bankrupt. Companies merge. Information systems become obsolete. None of these changes is particularly new. What is new is the speed and frequency with which these changes are taking place.


Change is a fundamental reality of the manufacturing environment. Old products are abandoned. New products are introduced. Processes are improved. Demand fluctuates. Suppliers go bankrupt. Companies merge. Information systems become obsolete. None of these changes is particularly new. What is new is the speed and frequency with which these changes are taking place.

MOM—Manufacturing Operations Management—can help. Change management—the process of planning, implementing, and stabilizing changes—is an ongoing process whereby the current state (composed of people, processes, and systems) is determined to be inadequate and in need of revision. It involves:

  • Recognizing the need to change: Why will the status quo not suffice?

  • Identifying what needs to be changed: What processes, systems, and roles are impacted?

  • Communicating details of the change to the affected role, gaining commitment from their reporting chain, and soliciting feedback, with the objective of generating a desire to change;

  • Providing training prior to the change and support during the change period; and,

  • Reviewing results of the change to make sure the desired outcome was achieved and correcting as necessary.

Two types of change

Any change project involves two sets of personnel: those implementing the change (the project team) and those impacted by the change (the users). The change manager’s function is to work with these two groups, to act as an intermediary and to ensure bi-directional communications. To achieve this, the change management process must encompass two sets of activities. The first set centers on the project team and is focused on identifying the impact of the change. The second centers on those affected and is focused on communicating the change and gaining organizational alignment.

MOM focuses on two types of change. The first is change introduced within the boundaries of a company’s existing production operations management model. This is an “operational change.” The second type alters the company’s production operations management model; for example, changing the production workflow. This is a “model change.”

Both require change management to a different degree, and each benefits from the application of an ISA-95-based change management process. Pre-defined change management processes, or “change management workflows,” can be created using ISA-95 and a superset of MOM activities.

Risks of change

A main risk involved in change, especially when large scale process or system changes (model change) are being implemented is overlooking some aspect. Starting with a blank piece of paper and trying to list all the activities, people, and systems that are going to be impacted by a large change project is difficult. The scope of the change often crosses organizational and system boundaries. The likelihood of the project team having sufficient information to identify the full impact of the change correctly is low.

Using the ANSI/ISA-95 model as a checklist allows the team to examine each activity, data flow, user, and system and ask the question “Is this element impacted by the proposed change?” Either the team knows the answer and acts accordingly, or the team seeks outside input to find the answer. Either way, there has been a deliberate process of examining the superset of MOM activities and data flows. The goal of such deliberation is to determine:

  • Whether an element is impacted;

  • What aspects need to change;

  • Which systems are responsible for execution of that element; and,

  • Which users will be impacted.

Having this deliberate process in place increases the likelihood that all the required changes will be identified and can be planned for properly.

This article is excerpted from a white paper written for MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) by Michael Grasley, P.Eng. director, consulting for ASECO Integrated Systems; and reviewed by Mary Patterson, Nestle Purina Pet Care; Charlie Gifford, GE Fanuc Automation; Reinoud Visser, Atos Origin; and Ramana Kumar, Siemens. The MESA Website is at .

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