Technology, Manufacturing and Supply Chain readiness: how ready is your company?


How ready is your company? This is a hard question to answer, and frankly speaking, rather generic.

To provide a proper answer, let’s make a similarity and try to think about a school exam or a sports competition: what must a student or a sportsman do to be ready for an exam or a sport event, or to reduce the risk of failure, thus increasing his own probability of success?

In the first case, the student will have to implement a study method to learn the skills necessary to pass the exam. In the second case, the athlete has to implement a training method to be able to develop those technical and physical skills capable of making him run faster, jump higher, and so on.

Similarly, to know how ready a company is, it is necessary to develop a methodology that allows to know if it is able to face the competition of the global market with the required skills.

For this reason, in engineering fields where the risks are considered high from multiple points of view (such as technology or manufacturing), suitable tools have been developed to assess the readiness level of a technology or a production process. In addition, similar tools have recently been developed to assess other critical aspects within the business context, such as in the supply chain.

In fact, the production crisis generated by the pandemic has highlighted various problems relating to the supply chain, from the procurement of raw materials to the supply of components.

Below we will see 3 tools to assess the level of maturity of a company from a technological, manufacturing and supply chain point of view.

Technology Readiness Level

For those who work in sectors considered strategic such as aerospace, this tool will already be well known. However, more and more companies are discovering the its benefit, especially in reducing the risks due to the introduction of new product technologies.

The Technology Readiness Level is a methodology for assessing the degree of maturity of a technology, originally developed by NASA in 1974. It is currently used by various American and European bodies, such as the US Department of Defense, NASA, the European Space Agency, the European Commission and others.

The basic concept essentially lies in providing a methodology based on 9 levels to objectively assess the level of readiness of using a new technology in the market, in order to reduce the associated risks. It is based on a scale of values from 1 to 9, where 1 is the lowest (definition of the basic principles) and 9 the highest (system already used in the operating environment).

In 2013, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published its own standard to define the levels of technological maturity and the related evaluation criteria.

Below is an example of TRL levels:

Technology Readiness level

Manufacturing Readiness Level

In a completely similar way, the Manufacturing Readiness Level was developed in the manufacturing field to assess the readiness level of a new production technology as objectively as possible. The United States Department of Defense began the systematic use of the MRL scale in 2005.

Like the TRL, the MRL is also articulated on a 9-level scale, where level 1 indicates the approval of a concept on a scientific basis, while level 9 certifies the production technology mainly in terms of process capability and robustness.

Below is an example of the staircase:

Manufacturing Readiness Level

As you can imagine, TRL and MRL are strongly connected. This means, for example, that TRL 6 cannot be certified without first passing MRL level 4:

Supply Chain Readiness Level

As we anticipated at the beginning of this post, the production crisis caused by the pandemic has highlighted some critical issues relating to the supply chain. In order to guarantee the company Business Continuity, it has become increasingly important to have a resilient supply chain that is “ready” to the demands of the markets.

For this reason, The Manufacturing Technology Centre based in Coventry (UK) has developed a methodology to assess, in analogy to the TRL and the MRL, the level of readiness of the supply chain. More details on this methodology can be found on this Whitepaper.

However, here we list the main highlights:

  • 9 “threads” (threads) subject have been identified:
    • Innovation and technical mastery,
    • New product introduction,
    • Supplier-customer relationship,
    • Contract management, risk management and security,
    • Sustainability of the offer,
    • Offer synchronization (physical),
    • Organization and governance of the supply chain,
    • Agility and transformation, and
    • Digital competence.
  • For each Thread, five specific skills / competences have been identified, called “Sub-Discussions’
  • This gives a total of 9×5 = 45 relevant skills which are evaluated during the process.
  • Each capability of the sub-thread is then evaluated with respect to 4 levels, namely: “Awareness”, “Comprehension”, “Advanced” and “Expert”.
  • A numerical score is then assigned to each level to aid in the analysis and evaluation of the results.
  • This guarantees a rich assessment space consisting of 45×4 = 180 business capability maturity assessments.
  • The summary output of the SCRL Assessment Matrix includes a radar chart, which defines the readiness profile of a company along each of the 9 SCRL Threads, plus contextual and numerical feedback based on the ratings of each Thread.

What support do we offer?

The assessment of the level of maturity or readiness in different business areas (technology, manufacturing and supply chain) represents an activity that every company must be able to carry out to reduce the risks associated with the introduction of new technologies, new production methods and supply chains increasingly stressed by external conditions, sometimes difficult to predict.

In this context, Accialini Training & Consulting can provide you with valid support in technology management assessing maturity in terms of manufacturing capability. In fact, the MRL methodology represents one of the 3 pillars on whom our service Manufacturing Capability Management is based.

For more info, contact us to assess more details.

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