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Technology Readiness Level

Definition

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a methodology to estimate the maturity of a technology. Based on observations, formulations, experimentations, and running feedbacks the TRL approach is used to position the progress of a technology on a scale ranging from observed concepts (1) to validated operating systems (9).

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Here is an example of the TRL scale presented by the European Community (EC) for its program Horizon 2020 (H2020).

EU TRL scale

As shown in the figure, the TRL methodology allows to identify the progress of any technology according to a milestone sequence.

Adopting the TRL tool provides a common understanding of the technology improvement within an organization in order to manage and evaluate progress in Research & Development activities. Although globally very similar, there are two slightly different definitions of TRL, one in the USA and the other in Europe.

First used by the space and military sectors, the TRL was adopted by the European Union in their framework program Horizon 2020 in order to boost innovation. This means that any technology can apply for specific funding based on its Technology Readiness Level.

There is also a more marginal definition of the TRL especially designed for the Oil & Gas Industry based on API recommended practice, as shown below:

O&G TRL scale

No matter which scale is chosen, the aim is to consolidate development activities by transferring technologies into an integrated model. In this way, organizations can better manage their innovation and rank their projects to scale up their technologies.

To conclude, TRL is a great tool to monitor and map Innovation but this is not enough to achieve projects. For this purpose, it is necessary to adopt a more structured methodology, such as proposed by the forthcoming ISO 50501 and its dedicated platform: Industrie 4.0 Smart Platform

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