NASA, the US Government and many companies attempt to manage the development and launch of new technology using Technology Readiness Levels, TRLs. Unfortunately, TRLs as generally defined are outdated and flawed, based on the extent of prototype or hardware use in the field. Urgency in improving TRL levels drives early release of hardware before it is ready, and initiates cyclic rounds of debugging and fixing failures in the field or laboratory. Such a build-test-fix approach to product development is now well documented to be inefficient and wasteful. We present updated definitions of technology readiness levels (TRLs) based on the lean and design-for-six-sigma product design methodology, a radical departure from the “build-test-fix” methodology of conventional TRLs. We argue that the iterative build-test-fix approach of cyclic rework is costly to product development, as well as, downstream manufacturing and services. We call our updated TRL the L-TRL, for Lean TRL. Consistent with our L-TRL, we also present updated definitions for Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs) to address lean and six-sigma manufacturing principles. Hence we call them L-MRL. We address a void in the literature and unveil definitions for service readiness levels (SRLs).

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