Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology Concept
The end of the Cold War shifted the Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge facilities’ focus from producing weapons to enhancing the Nation’s industrial competitiveness through the utilization of defense technologies. In addition, Oak Ridge needed a way to maintain its core capabilities (critical to National defense) amidst declining DOE budgets. In response to its changing role and mission, Oak Ridge established Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology (ORCMT) in 1993. The ORCMT concept is a successful strategy for leveraging and transitioning a major facility from an older mission to a dual-use environment. As a model, ORCMT can help other federal facilities meet the challenges which may threaten their survival.
ORCMT, a virtual organization, combines the research and development capabilities of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with the unique manufacturing technologies of the Y-12 Plant. These facilities represent over 50 years of investment in defense technologies, allowing ORCMT to solve the most complex manufacturing problems which face U.S. industry and Department of Defense (DoD). ORCMT’s services include solving tough manufacturing problems with near-term, bottom-line benefits; creating prototypes and manufacturing processes based on emerging technologies; and training workers for advanced manufacturing environments.
Core competencies include precision manufacturing; manufacturing and materials technology development; metrology and quality assurance; and energy and environmentally-conscious manufacturing. Table 2-2 shows a detailed breakdown of the core competencies. Several opportunities exist for organizations to work with ORCMT such as technical assistance programs (TAPs), work-for-others (WFO) program, cooperative research, licensing, user facilities, and a manufacturing skills campus.
Internally, ORCMT faced the challenge of motivating employees into believing the transition plan was achievable. First, ORCMT needed to establish its vision as a national strategy and driving force for change in other organizations. Then, it built strategic alliances, many within Tennessee, so the vision could be achieved. The overall objective foresaw ORCMT as a national resource which could solve difficult manufacturing problems. Externally, ORCMT’s strategy possessed the politically appealing dual role of enhancing both national and economic security. Since its inception in 1993, ORCMT has generated almost $1 billion in private-sector benefits.
Table 2-2. Core Competencies
Figure 2-14. Return on Federal Investment and Benefits to Private Industry
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