Moving Technology From Applied Research to Operations
- G.D. Achenbach (Conoco Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1987
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 805 - 808
- 1987. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 7.10 Capital Budgeting and Project Selection, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment
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Summary. This survey paper summarizes the general requisites for and impediments to the efficient transfer of technology from an applied R and D organization to its customers and engineering and operations departments. Organization, procedures, and practices are then outlined to show how technology can be transferred.
Technology transfer has a variety of definitions. For an oil company's applied research department, technology transfer is the effective movement of relevant and timely technology from research to engineering and operations. The technological products include data, equipment, tools, processes, products, programs, and ideas. processes, products, programs, and ideas. The need for technology transfer is a direct consequence of the varied roles played by research, engineering, and operations. Efficient transfer of technology is a requisite not only for research to do its job, but also for engineering to have the tools it needs and for operations to achieve the optimum return on investment. At a time when enhanced productivity is essential to our industry, technology productivity is essential to our industry, technology transfer is a necessity, not a luxury. Technology transfer has been called a process that occurs between consenting adults. It happens person to person, one on one, eye to eyewith or without the help person, one on one, eye to eyewith or without the help of paper or electronics. It happens between individuals who have a respect for the credentials of the other party. And it happens routinely only when each participant sees the exchange to be to his/her personal benefit. The paper attempts to identify the fundamental requirements for and impediments to the effective transfer of technology from applied research to engineering and operations. Many of these observations appear in the literature. All are viewed from the admittedly biased perspective of a research manager. The paper concludes with a review of some of the methods we use to move technology from its applied research organization to engineering and operations.
Several requisites must be met to achieve technology transfer. Although the emphasis on these requirements will vary with time and location, there must be an underlying corporate and individual commitment to each. Management Mandate. Top operating management must want research support and must overtly encourage dialogue and exchange. Technological advancement must be part of management planning. This perspective must then part of management planning. This perspective must then be reflected in the policies and practices of middle management. Cooperation and teamwork become a part of the company culture, causing technology transfer to occur.
Agreement on Goals. The strategic plan of operations should set the agenda for an applied research organization. Operating and capital budgets reveal the technological areas that warrant primary attention. The long-range plans of the operating departments should be open to research management. Similarly, research must identify its long- and short-range objectives so that operating management can anticipate what technological capabilities research will provide. Goal setting is a dynamic process that should reflect the ever-changing economic and technical environment.
Identification of Roles. Many of the roles to be played by research, engineering, and operations are unique and easily defined. Functions at the interfaces between these groups, however, are inherently unclear. For example, what development belongs in research and what development should be done in engineering? Roles must be identified, agreed to, and honored by all interested parties. As with goals, roles are dynamic and will evolve with time. But role definition must reflect sound standards and criteria.
Delegation of Responsibility. Once roles are defined, the appropriate level of responsibility and accountability must be assigned. This allows each group to view itself as an essential, contributing member of the team. Each party will see the individual and collective merit in fulfilling its role. Together, they get the job done. Individually, they get recognition for their important contribution. Indeed, the groups are held responsible for doing their jobs. Failure to transfer information or attempts to play unassigned roles jeopardize the accomplishment of assigned roles.
Adequate Resources. When goals are set and responsibilities assigned, adequate staff, facilities, and funds must be allocated to do the job. The organizational relationship between research, engineering, and operations can be handled in a variety of ways.
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