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The committee conducted two rounds of detailed


reviews of the document over an eight-month period and adjudicated nearly 350 comments. They went through the document with a fi ne tooth comb, twice, and made very deliberate decisions on nearly each and every word. The standard was published in November 2014.


What the Standard Does


AS6500 applies to all phases of the system acquisi- tion life cycle and is intended for use on all programs with manufacturing content. It describes both the tools to measure manufacturing maturity and the activities that should be conducted to successfully mature the manu- facturing processes. The standard covers manufactur- ing planning, design analysis, operations management (including supplier management), and manufacturing risk identifi cation.


A key element of AS6500 is the use of manufactur-


ing readiness levels (MRLs) to assess the maturity of manufacturing processes and components. MRLs have become the generally accepted approach in the defense industry to determine manufacturing readiness and iden- tify manufacturing risks. MRL determinations are made through the evaluation of nine topic areas or “threads,” arranged in a matrix of objective criteria that refl ects the growing expectation for product maturity as a program progresses through its life cycle. The threads, criteria, and matrix were developed by an MRL Working Group consisting of members of the Offi ce of the Secretary of Defense, military services, Defense Acquisition University, and industry. AS6500’s adoption of this approach will further ingrain MRLs into the defense industrial base and help prevent DoD from proceeding into production phases with signifi cant manufacturing risks. Because suppliers perform a signifi cant amount of development and production, many delivery and quality problems begin at lower-tier vendors before they become apparent to the prime contractor. AS6500 not only ad- dresses in-house manufacturing management at prime contractors, but also their management of suppliers. The standard requires organizations to establish and maintain supplier management systems to evaluate the capabilities of suppliers, track and report supplier performance, and identify and manage supplier risks. The standard also focuses on ensuring the quality of parts de- livered by suppliers by fl owing down quality requirements,


verifying suppliers’ procedures for controlling quality, and using predictive indicators to provide early detection of potential quality problems at suppliers. As illustrated in Figure 1, AS6500 goes hand-in-hand with AS9100, as well as with several other commercial standards Putting AS6500 to Work AS6500 may be tailored to meet the needs of each program’s unique situation. Requirements within the standard are designed to reduce program life-cycle costs. Those requirements that are not specifi cally applicable may be eliminated or adapted to fi t the program. For example, the requirements for design analysis may not be appropriate when applying the stan- dard in a mature production or build-to-print program. DoD currently has several major programs that are planning to include AS6500 in their Requests for Pro- posal (RFPs), which will be released later this year. DoD is revising its internal guidance and instructions to direct the application of the standard, so industry will be seeing it included in more and more RFPs in the future.


Benefi ts for All


Application of AS6500 in the early phases of develop- ment and production may require additional resources.


Figure 2


However, this investment will pay off very quickly by driving down the cost of development and production through improved quality, higher schedule confi dence, and more producible products. As Figure 2 depicts, the savings during development and production will far out- weigh the investments required in early phases. AS6500 sets the standard in manufacturing manage- ment and provides a contractual vehicle for ensuring more consistent implementation of these practices throughout the defense industrial base.


117 — Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2015


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