While our customers are mainly focused on the design of the new product and its functionality, we can use our expertise and provide external support for the customer through a virtual design process. This combination provides a strong basis for optimal product development.
When Nolato receives a customer assignment, it often involves being on board and supporting them throughout the entire process from concept development to full-scale manufacture of the complete product.
“Nolato’s end-to-end concept is an important foundation for the company’s success,” comments Bill Torris, Director of Medical Solutions’ Technical Design Center in North America. “Although our main focus is on production itself, supporting customers during the development phase is an extremely important and growing part of our business.”
Over the past 10 years, Nolato has developed significantly within systems for administering medication, including inhalers and autoinjectors.
“All around the world, we’re seeing a greater focus on self-care in the home and patients being able to administer their own medication. This means the often vital devices they use need to be simple and reliable,” says Herbert Kaminski, Strategic Account Director at Medical Solutions.
Nolato’s Technical Design Centers in Europe and North America support customers in developing new products in the medical sector by reducing uncertainty, risks, cost, and in particular, time to market. This is achieved by means of advanced simulation tools.
“Over the past five years, the applications for computer-aided design, simulation and testing have become much more precise as a result of the meshed models generated during production simulations,” explains Bill Torris. “This has made it possible to develop new products at a faster pace, as you don’t have to develop physical prototypes to test the robustness of the designs.”
“While our customers are mainly focusing on the design of the new product and its functionality, we can use our expertise and provide external support for the customer through a virtual process of establishing the design’s robustness, cost effectiveness and environmental sustainability,” adds Herbert Kaminski. “I would say that it’s this combination of the customer’s own development and our support that creates a firm foundation for an optimal product.”
“For example, we can take the customers’ own 3D drawings and carry out simulations to examine how the design would function in practice in our production,” says Bill Torris. “And once we have simulated production of the individual components, we can then also simulate their assembly into a complete product. We can then use the results of these simulations to virtually test the design as a whole.”
These tests can look at scenarios such as what happens when a patient drops the autoinjector on the floor for the fifth time, without actually destroying a physical prototype. And it’s easy to test different solutions to work out how it should be designed to cope with such situations without getting damaged.
You can even virtually test the exact strength that a spring in the same autoinjector needs to be to deliver no more than the promised number of injections.
“Just imagine what this means in terms of shorter development time, reduced costs and the right level of quality when it comes to new components and products,” comments Bill Torris. “The earlier on in the process we come on board, the more time and money that customer can save.”
Bill Torris goes on to explain that this virtual technology makes it easier for Nolato to support customers by proposing changes to designs.
“It’s easy to demonstrate to the customer that if we make certain changes to the design, the product will be less complicated to make, which in turn saves money for the customer.”
And since no physical product has actually been made yet, it’s simply a case of going back to the customer’s 3D files and adjusting them to the point that the design is optimal from every angle.
However, as both Bill Torris and Herbert Kaminski emphasize, without close collaboration between TDCs and the production units, all this might have remained just theoretical. Nolato’s extensive experience of working with efficient production, coupled with considerable knowledge of the customer’s market and a strong client-oriented culture, means it’s only a short step from theory to practice, which is highly beneficial for customers’ projects.