One of the challenges that technology driven startup businesses face is how to package their invention into a product platform that will be well received in the market, is operator-friendly, robust, and reliable (just to name a few of the desirable attributes that drive sales). Many times, these small companies are focused on staffing to develop their proprietary know how and associated process equipment. Unfortunately, they do not necessarily have the engineering resources to actually design and build a production worthy system that will embody their new technology and have the needed features and performance for use out in the general manufacturing environment.
Previously in this space, we have blogged about the “Science Behind Process Manufacturing,” in which we talked about the necessary fundamental skills and process understanding that are the foundation for helping our customers troubleshoot their production problems. Today, I would like to share a specific scenario where this idea clearly plays out. Our premise is that in order to be effective at recommending corrections or improvements to our customers’ manufacturing platforms, we must first understand the science of what drives their process, based on sound engineering practices (in the disciplines of mechanical, electrical, chemical, software/controls, and structural). The business challenge that I think is a great case study of the need for these fundamental capabilities has to do with aftermarket support of complex production/process systems.
When your solution provider presents you with a proposed equipment project to solve a current manufacturing need, is he or she really offering you the most cost effective approach? How can you be sure that your partner has left no metaphorical solution stone unturned, and that you are in fact being offered a well thought out and thorough answer to your requirements? We have discovered that a complete investigation should involve a check to see if a retrofitting (read this as used with upgrades) equipment approach would be a fit that might offer near comparable performance at a fraction of the cost.