Chapter 4
BARRIERS TO TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

The NDCEE’s primary customers for the technologies examined in this study are military depots performing maintenance on a wide range of military equipment, including transport and combat aircraft as well as trucks and mobile artillery. To a lesser extent, the original manufacturers of military equipment are also customers for specific products of NDCEE programs, such as powder coating of the tips of small-caliber ammunition.

DEPOT MAINTENANCE

Depot maintenance is defined by the Department of Defense as

that maintenance performed on materiel requiring major overhaul or a complete rebuild of parts, assemblies, subassemblies, and end-items, including the manufacture of parts, modifications, testing, and reclamation as required. Depot maintenance also serves to support lower categories of maintenance by providing technical assistance and performing that maintenance beyond their responsibility. Depot maintenance provides stocks of serviceable equipment by using more extensive facilities for repair than are available in lower level maintenance activities.1

Military depots performing this work face such pressures as reduced budgets, declining workload, and privatization. The number of depots declined from 39 in 1988 to 19 in 2001. The privatization of Air Force depot maintenance was planned to exceed 50 percent in fiscal year 2000, but this requirement has been waived temporarily because of national security concerns.2

Reduced budgets in real terms and the declining workforce in the defense industry make it difficult for depot personnel to travel to gain knowledge of new technology. The relatively static processes used by depots can tend to limit opportunities to adopt new technologies in maintenance. However, the more entrepreneurial approach required from depots in response to the defense downsizing and privatization of functions described above may also create such opportunities.

In general, new technology is most easily introduced in new systems. The stakeholders, funding, and methods of application differ for new weapon system acquisitions and for defense maintenance installations, and the Department of Defense has therefore developed separate pollution prevention strategies for each.3

Because military systems are remaining in service far longer than envisioned by their designers, continued maintenance of some systems may be impractical without new maintenance technologies. For example, the coating removal and resealing of wing fuel tanks on KC-135 tanker aircraft that have been in service since the 1950s is unprecedented in either military or commercial aviation. This additional maintenance was necessitated by delamination of the topcoat inside the fuel tanks that resulted in clogged fuel filters.4 The pressure from environmental regulations may provide additional incentive to drive the use of new technologies for maintaining existing weapons and equipment in service for long periods of time.

1  

Defense Technical Information Center. Undated. DOD Dictionary of Military Terms. Available online at <http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/d/01905.html>. Accessed January 2002.

2  

Government Executive Magazine. 2001. GovExec.com Daily Fed, DOD Depots, Buyouts on Agenda, September 26, 1997. Available at <http://www.govexec.com/features/0601/0601s2.htm>. Accessed December 2001.

3  

Office of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security). 1997. Environmental Quality Annual Report to Congress. Available at <http://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/News/OSD/EQ97/toc.html>. Accessed January 2002.

4  

Nieser, D.E. C/KC-135 Integral Wing Fuel Tank Topcoat Removal. Presentation to this study committee, November 1999.



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Transfer of Pollution Prevention Technologies Chapter 4 BARRIERS TO TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER The NDCEE’s primary customers for the technologies examined in this study are military depots performing maintenance on a wide range of military equipment, including transport and combat aircraft as well as trucks and mobile artillery. To a lesser extent, the original manufacturers of military equipment are also customers for specific products of NDCEE programs, such as powder coating of the tips of small-caliber ammunition. DEPOT MAINTENANCE Depot maintenance is defined by the Department of Defense as that maintenance performed on materiel requiring major overhaul or a complete rebuild of parts, assemblies, subassemblies, and end-items, including the manufacture of parts, modifications, testing, and reclamation as required. Depot maintenance also serves to support lower categories of maintenance by providing technical assistance and performing that maintenance beyond their responsibility. Depot maintenance provides stocks of serviceable equipment by using more extensive facilities for repair than are available in lower level maintenance activities.1 Military depots performing this work face such pressures as reduced budgets, declining workload, and privatization. The number of depots declined from 39 in 1988 to 19 in 2001. The privatization of Air Force depot maintenance was planned to exceed 50 percent in fiscal year 2000, but this requirement has been waived temporarily because of national security concerns.2 Reduced budgets in real terms and the declining workforce in the defense industry make it difficult for depot personnel to travel to gain knowledge of new technology. The relatively static processes used by depots can tend to limit opportunities to adopt new technologies in maintenance. However, the more entrepreneurial approach required from depots in response to the defense downsizing and privatization of functions described above may also create such opportunities. In general, new technology is most easily introduced in new systems. The stakeholders, funding, and methods of application differ for new weapon system acquisitions and for defense maintenance installations, and the Department of Defense has therefore developed separate pollution prevention strategies for each.3 Because military systems are remaining in service far longer than envisioned by their designers, continued maintenance of some systems may be impractical without new maintenance technologies. For example, the coating removal and resealing of wing fuel tanks on KC-135 tanker aircraft that have been in service since the 1950s is unprecedented in either military or commercial aviation. This additional maintenance was necessitated by delamination of the topcoat inside the fuel tanks that resulted in clogged fuel filters.4 The pressure from environmental regulations may provide additional incentive to drive the use of new technologies for maintaining existing weapons and equipment in service for long periods of time. 1   Defense Technical Information Center. Undated. DOD Dictionary of Military Terms. Available online at <http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/d/01905.html>. Accessed January 2002. 2   Government Executive Magazine. 2001. GovExec.com Daily Fed, DOD Depots, Buyouts on Agenda, September 26, 1997. Available at <http://www.govexec.com/features/0601/0601s2.htm>. Accessed December 2001. 3   Office of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security). 1997. Environmental Quality Annual Report to Congress. Available at <http://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/News/OSD/EQ97/toc.html>. Accessed January 2002. 4   Nieser, D.E. C/KC-135 Integral Wing Fuel Tank Topcoat Removal. Presentation to this study committee, November 1999.

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Transfer of Pollution Prevention Technologies ADDITIONAL FACTORS Before a new technology can be implemented by a depot or other military facility, a clear definition is needed of the technology’s role, including it’s suitability for meeting the customer’s needs, its impact on current and future regulatory compliance, and its impact on labor and other operating costs, as well as the cost, schedule, and requirements for training associated with its implementation. Because the systems in place are complex—including equipment, facilities, specifications, existing technology, the knowledge base, and so on—it is often a challenging task to implement a new technology, whether the changes in existing operations are minor or major. A clear understanding of a maintenance depot’s needs, both with regard to the specific problem at hand and how the proposed solutions would support the depot’s ability to meet its overall mission, is essential.5 Some of the major considerations that determine the success or failure of technology transfer are as follows: Maturity. The technology must be at the appropriate level of maturity. A technology ready for transfer has already been implemented in a similar facility or a similar product, either in an industrial or academic setting. Organization. Both the transferring and receiving organizations must be well prepared for the technology implementation process, which is guaranteed to consume additional time and funds in the short term. When a technology is owned by a supplier with few employees to aid in implementation, or a depot is unable to allocate adequate personnel to the project, the budgets, time lines, goals, and objectives must reflect this shortcoming.6 Identification of champions on both sides of technology transfer is especially critical when validating and accepting a new process or material for defense applications, for which the technical complexity, environmental demands, and system considerations are generally high when compared to many commercial activities. For example, implementing a new coating for aircraft that meets VOC compliance regulations typically requires new surface preparation, new application methods, new specifications, and new maintenance procedures, as well as training of depot facility operators. Design Control. It is important to understand which organization controls the design of the product and the process. In general, the designs are controlled by the original equipment manufacturers of the weapons or by the research laboratories in the military services. Therefore, for example, the implementation of vapor-deposited coatings on a part for an Army helicopter would require the approval of both the Army Aviation Systems Command and the helicopter manufacturer—perhaps with no input from a major technology user, the equipment depot. In addition, the design may or may not follow military specifications. This complex interdependence requires a technology intermediary like the NDCEE to be able to convince all stakeholders that new technologies proposed are safe and effective for all stages in equipment lifetime. The ability to sell new technologies to external organizations as well as cooperating with the user depots requires a high degree of communication and trust. Time line. The time line for use of a new technology requires careful consideration, because the time for maturation and implementation may exceed budgetary, environmental, or other constraints. Plans for alternative capabilities must be assessed, as well as the possibility that a technology may become obsolete by the time it is put in place. Life-cycle costing should always be considered, and cost models must relate future benefit to present cost and risk. System Considerations. The system drivers for technology implementation must be well defined. Due to the substantial effort needed to implement process changes, processes without an immediate regulatory or specification driver tend to remain unchanged even if less-polluting processes are available. A system-level understanding of logistics and of depot operation is required in order to select appropriate technologies for transfer. Details such as equipment 5   Asiello, David. 2000. Navy Program Experience. Presentation to this study committee, January 11, 2000. 6   NDCEE. 1999. Ion Beam Processing for Environmentally Acceptable Coatings Final Report. Johnstown, Pennsylvania: Concurrent Technologies Corporation.  

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Transfer of Pollution Prevention Technologies capabilities and parts requirements including size, accessibility, and throughput should be clearly defined when scaling a technology from demonstration to regular use. Communication. The decentralized nature of depot maintenance and the limited opportunities for interaction between locations due to time and budgetary constraints tend to prevent the transfer of expertise. Decentralization can, however, provide the freedom to implement innovations in trial operations. Purveyors of new technologies and expertise in technology transfer need to understand this potential as well as general business practices among military suppliers and maintenance depots. Technology champions are key in this communication process. Life-Cycle Accounting. A combination of past practice and current incentives can cause depot managers to maintain a short-term view of cost and operational effectiveness versus the long-term goals of pollution prevention and reduced life-cycle costs. Base command staff are typically rotated within 2 to 4 years, and investing in technology may result in negative budget impacts during their terms and savings that accrue to future commanders. Program managers face similar difficulties. Some means of extending the life-cycle benefits to all parties or of adjusting the life-cycle accounting is needed to ensure adoption of appropriate new technologies. Ownership. Implementation of a new technology will generally result in a short-term increase in workload for depot personnel. To justify this sacrifice, depot managers should be willing to assume some ownership of the new technology. They must also clearly understand the goals and objectives, along with budgets and time lines, prior to technology implementation so that the cost of successful transfer can be defined. A more nebulous barrier to technology transfer is the inability of those working to implement a new process to overcome the inertia inherent in years of use of an existing technology. Families of technologies that become integral to the workings of societies tend to remain dominant for many decades.7 The technologies proposed for replacement by the NDCEE’s efforts, such as chemical paint stripping and cadmium plating, have become integral to the functioning and maintenance of military and similar commercial equipment. In essence, the issues determining success in technology transfer can be categorized as money, people, and logistics. The need for adequate funding is the barrier cited most often. Most people are aware that funds must be available to implement a change and pay for the equipment, time, and training needed, but the role of personnel, which may be even more critical, is often overlooked. Not only must adequate personnel be allocated to implement a change, but they must also be properly trained. Moreover, everyone, from the commander to the technician, must buy in to the need for and the process of change. Finally, the logistics of change is a less well recognized barrier. Logistics ranges from communicating a change to external support organizations to revising in detail such control documents as specifications, technical orders, drawings, or maintenance cards. The role of the implementing organization is one of the most critical factors in achieving success in technology transfer. The implementing organization needs to: Concur with the NDCEE’s statement of the organization’s needs; Identify a champion who has the authority to make the business decisions and to commit the resources needed to make the implementation succeed; Approve the proposed demonstration and participate in the testing and evaluation; Send personnel to the demonstration for training; Cooperate during the facilitation and implementation; and Communicate issues and problems as they occur. 7   Weinberg, M., E. Eyring, J. Raguso, and D. Jensen. 1994. Industrial ecology: The role of government. Chapter 8 in The Greening of Industrial Ecosystems. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

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