Manufacturing operations management maturity starts when drama ends

Engineering and IT Insight: MESA International’s Manufacturing Operations Management Capability Maturity Model (MOM-CMM) is designed to improve operational processes by evaluating how the people involved in operations handle normal and abnormal situations in a variety of settings.


The MESA Manufacturing Operations Management Capability Maturity Model (MOM-CMM) was released recently by MESA International, the Manufacturing Enterprise Systems Association. It is the result of a multi-year effort to develop an industrywide method for evaluating how capable an organization is in improving its operational processes. The capability is a measurement of the people involved in operations to handle normal and abnormal situations. The MOM-CMM applies to manual, semi-automated, and fully automated operations. It also covers production, testing, and quality operations as well as inventory, warehouse, and maintenance operations. 

Mature, robust, repeatable

Capability is one of the English words with multiple meanings, and in the MOM-CMM it means, "An ability or potential for an intended use." A MOM-CMM maturity level is defined as a measure of an organization's ability to have mature, robust, and repeatable manufacturing operations, in the face of unexpected and unplanned events. Basically it defines how to operate without drama when situations change. The MOM-CMM focuses on the policies, procedures, training, control of information, control of documentation, roles and responsibilities, tools, and metrics that provide the ability to execute effective operations. Unexpected events occur often in operations. Especially with production lines, testing labs, warehouses, tank farms, and maintenance operations.

The ability of an organization to handle these events and not experience productivity losses is a measure of its maturity. The ability may be based on the ability of key individuals to seemingly perform near heroic work on a regular basis or on a well-trained workforce following well-developed procedures for handling exceptions and any level in between. The less reliant an organization is on heroic acts by individuals or small departments, the higher the maturity level of the organization.

The MOM-CMM follows a model similar to the Software Engineering Institute CMMI model for software development. The MOM-CMM defines 5 levels of maturity (initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed, and optimizing). The higher the maturity level, the more efficient the organization, the fewer errors and mistakes made, and the fewer systemic problems in manufacturing operations exist.

Software maturity: 5 levels

Levels 1 through 5 are defined as:

  1. It is a characteristic of Level 1 maturity that processes are undocumented, or not formally managed, and in a state of dynamic change, tending to be driven in an ad-hoc, uncontrolled, and reactive manner by users or events. Success in the processes is often due to heroic individual efforts.
  2. It is a characteristic of Level 2 maturity that processes are repeatable, possibly with consistent results. Not all processes are documented, or they are documented with consistent quality and detail. Process discipline is unlikely to be rigorous. Processes vary across organizational groups, with different processes and procedures for similar tasks used in different groups.
  3. It is a characteristic of Level 3 maturity that processes are defined with documented standards for all activities. Processes are defined across all organizational groups, and the organization follows written policies. Subgroups tailor their processes from organization standards.
  4. It is a characteristic of Level 4 maturity that processes support all major activities and are defined, repeatable, monitored and managed across all organizational groups using agreed-to process metrics to manage the process effectively.
  5. It is a characteristic of Level 5 maturity that processes focus on continually improving process performance through both incremental and innovative technological changes/improvements.

The goal of the MOM-CMM is to help organizations determine where they could apply efforts to improve operational capability and thereby improve their productivity, efficiency, and reduce wasted effort and time. The model can be a benchmark for comparison, allowing a company to compare different company sites and compare their sites against others in their industry. The MOM-CMM also includes a section that provides a list of the activities and controls needed to raise maturity levels and a section on how to evaluate an organization's maturity level.

The MOM-CMM uses the activity models defined in the ANSI/ISA-95 Part 3: Activity Models of Manufacturing Operations Management standard. This standard has become the preferred template for many companies to evaluate their other operational system's requirements. Currently, most requirement specifications and vendor documentation for manufacturing execution systems (MES) are based on the ISA-95 standard. Using this internationally respected standard allows the MOM-CMM to be applied across industries, across countries, and across corporate cultures. 

Proof, not assertions

Dennis Brandl is a founder and chief consultant at BR&L Consulting Inc., specializing in helping companies use Manufacturing IT to improve production, laboratory, and logistics processes. Courtesy: BR&L Consulting Inc.The MOM-CMM defines a set of characteristics for each major ISA-95 activity. If the organization has the characteristics for a certain level and has proof of the characteristics (written policies and procedures, tools, etc.), then it would be rated at that level. A MOM-CMM requires objective evidence of the characteristics and admonishes that, "Repeated assertions are no substitutes for proof."

Using the MESA MOM-CMM will help stop unexpected and unplanned events in operational departments while providing mature, robust, and repeatable manufacturing operations to evaluate and improve operational maturity.

Dennis Brandl is president of BR&L Consulting in Cary, N.C., His firm focuses on manufacturing IT. Contact him at Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


Key Concepts

MESA's Manufacturing Operations Management Capability Maturity Model (MOM-CMM) is designed to evaluate how capable an organization is in improving its operational processes.

MOM-CMM is divided into 5 levels of maturity (initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed, and optimizing).

MOM-CMM can help improve operational immaturity and stop unexpected and unplanned events.

Consider this

What other methods can companies take to improve their operational capabilities?

ONLINE extra

This posted version contains more information than the print/digital edition issue of Control Engineering.

At, search Brandl for more on related topics. See other articles for 2016 at

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