TRL4 is the point where technology has been proven to work in a controlled environment, while TRL5 is where it has been proven to work in a real-world environment. In order to achieve TRL5, you need to have demonstrated that the technology works in a way that is acceptable to your customers. This can be done through trials or other forms of customer feedback.
How to move from TRL 4 to TRL 5 in your product development project:
The key steps involved in moving from TRL 4 to TRL 5 are:
- Test the technology with customers or in a simulated customer environment. You must first define your target market and locate people who are interested in testing the technology, after which you must develop a test environment that mimics how the technology will be used in reality. For example, if you are developing a new life jacket, you might put it through its paces in a pool with a wave machine with people who are wearing different types of clothes to see how well it works.
- Integrate the technology into a system that simulates the systems it will be integrated into in the real world. Further to testing the technology in a simulated user environment, you must also test it in a simulated real-world environment. This can be done by integrating the technology into a physical system that replicates how it will be used in reality. For example, if you are developing a new life jacket, you might put it through its paces in a very cold pool with a wave machine that simulates the waves and currents found in the North Sea
- Evaluate the results of the trials. After testing the technology in both a simulated and real-world environment, you must analyse the results to see if it is viable for commercialisation. This evaluation should include meaningful feedback from both customers and testers.
In order to move from TRL 4 to TRL 5, you must demonstrate that the technology works in a way that is acceptable to your customers.
Understand and address the challenges you may face along the way
There are certain challenges you may face when trying to reach TRL5. These can include:
- Defining the target market and locating people who are interested in testing the technology. This can be difficult, as you need to find people who are both willing and able to test your technology and who also represent your target market. To address this challenge, you might consider using focus groups or conducting surveys. For example, you could survey people who work in a particular industry to see if they would be interested in using your technology.
- Developing a test environment that mimics how the technology will be used in reality. This can be difficult, as it is often expensive and time-consuming to create a realistic testing environment. You may need to enlist the help of experts in order to create an accurate simulation, or you may need to create a virtual environment that replicates the real world.
- Evaluating the results of the trials. This can be difficult, as you need to analyse a lot of data in order to determine whether the technology is viable for commercialisation. You may need to employ experts in order to help you with this analysis.
Addressing the challenges you face along the way can be difficult, but it is important to remember that they are not insurmountable. By planning ahead and allocating the necessary resources, you should be able to overcome any challenges that stand in your way.