Innovation is necessary to meet the demands of the market but can rack up huge costs for manufacturers. KMC Systems explains how companies can make use of existing proprietary tools to create customised, unique and inventive solutions within time and budget constraints.
When conceptualising the next groundbreaking medical or lab-automation instrument, a certain degree of invention is required. The quest to deliver the next great instrument is necessary for continuity and growth in a rapidly accelerating marketplace. The challenge is how a company can achieve the desired level of innovation while meeting the target time to market, and without racking up too much time and money in invention hours.
Automating and integrating complex processes involves intense engineering hours and often multiple disciplines, which translates to multiple people collaborating on one project. A complex system may require hardware and software design, robotics, optics, fluidics, clinical chemistry, motion and thermal control, and more during development. Then there's supply-chain management, performance testing, and regulatory and quality control before ramping up production.
Customers often ask if using off-the-shelf, plug-and-play components can accelerate development time and speed up transition to manufacturing. While this approach may make sense in certain scenarios, developing new systems for an intensely competitive market does require a certain degree of invention. The ultimate goal is to break barriers and solve complex medical and laboratory challenges while launching the new instrument on time and within budget.
Invention can lengthen the duration of product development due to the necessity of complex breadboard analysis and prototyping, which will ultimately increase development time and expense. Invention also requires solving technical challenges, thereby increasing the product's risk profile. So how can a company remain competitive by bringing new platforms to market, while also controlling development and manufacturing costs - without sacrificing innovation?
Producing a library of proven, proprietary tools that can be incorporated into complex new platforms and customised to meet objectives is the best approach. By using an existing yet unique proprietary set of tools that can be customised to a customer's needs, expectations can be met more cost-effectively while producing truly one-of-a-kind, viable, innovative design solutions.
These existing yet agile and customisable tools include robotics, which can be modified and adapted to meet the specific needs of individual projects; a library of motion-control tools to drive the robotics (universal architecture, or UA); and related hardware that enables customised prototyping and the ability to develop software that is associated with the motion control, sensor, and input/output (I/O) requirements. By using proprietary tools that can be customised, the work can be rapidly assessed throughout the breadboard phase of design and development, yet remains unique to each customer's project. This allows the agile development of unique designs for each specific project, with costs equivalent to or less than cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf solutions.
This approach enables agile invention in response to the demands of ever changing markets, without adding unnecessary development time and cost to a project. It's a win-win, as companies are able to deliver unique, cutting-edge new products to market within time and budget constraints.