Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Technical Assistance Programs
Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology’s (ORCMT’s) Technical Assistance Programs (TAPs) represent an important aspect of Oak Ridge’s technology transfer efforts. Designed to help small businesses, TAPs provide several mechanisms for private industry to obtain technical assistance from the manufacturing, analytical, scientific research, and informational resources available at the Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge facilities. TAPs criteria include: the company must be a small business; the company must be U.S. owned; the requested assistance must not be reasonably available in the private sector; the work cannot create intellectual property; and the work must be beneficial to the DOE.
Available through various technology transfer mechanisms, TAPs are designed and organized to provide customers with easy access to Oak Ridge’s capabilities. Customers can access TAPs by telephone (1-800-356-4USA), by e- mail (4USA@ornl.gov), through many of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Manufacturing Extension Partnership Offices, or through the U.S. Navy’s Best Manufacturing Practices program. ORCMT evaluates and discusses each request with the customer to determine the appropriate technology transfer mechanism. A principal investigator (technical expert), assigned to the request, contacts the customer within two work days.
The technology transfer mechanisms consist of short-term (up to four days) technical assistance at no cost to small businesses; full-cost recovery work (Work-for-Others [WFO]program); user facilities where customers perform work or research on-site at an ORCMT facility; manufacturing skills training provided through the Manufacturing Skills Campus; Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) where specific customer interest can use matching government funds; and licensing of existing technologies. These mechanisms may be used alone or in combination to provide the needed service to the customer.
Since most requests involve manufacturing or design problems at the customer’s site, TAPs’ most valuable resource is the technical expertise and experience of Oak Ridge personnel. TAPs can access all of the technologists located at the Oak Ridge sites and corresponding facilities based upon need and availability. For other cases, TAPs rely on the facilities and equipment at Oak Ridge to demonstrate an appropriate technology or result.
ORCMT has performed more than 2,200 short-term technical assistances and responded to over 1,500 information requests from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Data collected from customer responses indicates that TAPs generated more than $290 million in private-sector benefits and created (or retained) over 3,100 jobs (Figure 2-15). In addition, 93.6% of customers would use the TAPs’ services again.
Figure 2-15. Technical Assistance Programs Reported Benefits
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