Proof of Concept: De-risking Intricate Automated Solutions

When creating a new automated manufacturing system, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of automation and how it can be integrated into your daily operations.
What is proof of concept?

When dealing with complex ideas, a Proof of Concept (POC) can help validate your needs, reduce investment risk, and ensure you get the most value from the final solution.

POC serves as an initial checkpoint of validation. During the planning stage of an automated manufacturing project, there will be various technical uncertainties. No matter how experienced the automation provider is, each customer’s requirement is unique, with unknowns from the offset. A POC is developed and tested to determine its feasibility and potential practicality. This process, also known as Proof of Principle (POP), includes designing and refining the proposed methodology to help mitigate risks and validate the idea.

It is a collaborative approach, and through leveraging shared knowledge, we can gain a deep understanding of your product, materials and processes and combine this with our extensive knowledge of automation to ensure maximum value is generated.

How can POC derisk complex automated solutions?

Unlocking the potential of automation can significantly enhance your manufacturing processes. Nevertheless, developing and creating an automated solution without proper testing poses a greater risk. Whilst developing an automated project, we consider numerous potential solutions during the concept stage. By conducting proof of concept tests using rapid prototypes and test cells, we can detect possible obstacles and technical uncertainties and adjust our design until we find a safe and effective solution, ensuring you receive the maximum value and that we deliver a complete solution that is optimised in a cost-effective and low-risk manner.

Benefits of proof of concept

Proof of concept is an invaluable part of the production process, with many clear benefits:

Identifying and mitigating risks early

Proof of concept helps us pinpoint and isolate any functional or logistical issues early on, helping to reduce risk to your business by saving time and minimising costs.

Proving key concepts

Before implementing an automated solution, it is essential to conduct trials to ensure the underlying theory or concept is working as intended. While our solutions are based on proven principles, we take priority in investigating all unique elements to minimise risks to our customer’s investment.

Developing strong partnerships

Concept development isn’t an isolated process. It involves close collaboration with customers and suppliers. Deep research and development are the starting blocks for any new project; through knowledge sharing with the client, we gain an in-depth understanding of their product, including the materials, processes, application and any other general requirements necessary. By liaising with suppliers, we forge stronger supply chain partnerships, which improve the process and simplify project logistics and procurement.

Enables accurate time and cost forecasting

By ensuring that an automated solution is viable, we give ourselves a clearer picture of the end product. This enables us to predict production turnaround times more accurately, understand necessary supply chain connections and offer realistic quotes, improving the customer experience.

Leads to innovations

While testing new ways of working, we can explore alternative avenues of production, and depending on the outcome of our trials, we may be able to open up innovative new ways of working. Solutions that may have once seemed unviable can be explored as technology changes and associated risks can be reduced by operating trial cells and rapid prototyping, leading to significant industry-wide benefits.

What is PCE’s approach to proof of principle?

Even with our long-standing experience producing automated solutions, POC is still an invaluable part of the development process whenever the PCE team start a new project. Each project is unique – and bespoke work requires a bespoke approach.

We always use proof of concept when establishing a solution for a completely new product, but POC is also helpful when a customer is looking to upgrade their manufacturing processes and integrate new technologies or move from a manual to an automated system.

Whatever the brief, our approach to proof of principle involves:

Collaboration

We’ll conduct knowledge sharing with each customer when a brief comes in, to ensure we understand the ins and outs of the project and their automation requirements.

Research and Development

We’ll carry out an in-depth analysis of the options available to us, looking at machines we have produced before and ways that fresh technology can enhance these systems, and exploring new, innovative ways of working to enhance production, increase ROI, and give our customers a competitive edge. We’ll also look for solutions that minimise waste and keep carbon footprints low.

Design and Testing

Once we have decided on a possible solution, our design team will create a blueprint and we’ll test its viability via simulations or by creating product prototypes, allowing us to assess its efficiency, as well as assess the strengths and shortcomings of a particular route.

Finalisation

When tests have been completed, the design will be presented to the client, together with realistic turnaround times and costs. Once signed off, it will be carried forward to the production phase.

Let’s Make This Happen

PCE have over 60 years of experience in delivering bespoke automation and has undertaken many successful POC trials for many global customers such as Pfizer:

“We consulted PCE Automation for a proof of concept (POC) study that involved a high-speed inspection and packaging line of plastic syringes. PCE provided an innovative solution that involved using laser cell technology to cut the strip of plastic syringes into individual components after a two-step process. Combining this approach with an iTRAK carrier system to transport the components resulted in a successful outcome. The requested machine speed was beyond feasible and the cutting quality was well within the predefined acceptance criteria. The POC provided by PCE was very technologically advanced and was a massive achievement, especially considering the plastic syringe components are made from a difficult-to-handle material.”

Pfizer Lead Engineer

If you’d like PCE to take your next manufacturing project forward, contact the team. We’d love to start the conversation and help you find the right solution.

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