Neil Saunders, the General Manager at Burkert Fluid Control Systems, explains how his company uses an international network of local Systemhaus facilities to develop microfluidic products and systems for customers.
Most modern technology is on a continuous march towards miniaturisation, with a need for reliability and cost effectiveness the main controlling factors. For businesses involved in Life Sciences, analytical chemistry, in-vitro diagnostics and medical devices, the ability to automate processes and miniaturise the devices involved is becoming a driving force for manufacturers in this field. Key to this requirement is the expertise of the people involved in manufacturing components and their ability to deliver products that perform to exacting standards.
The world of microfluidics, for example, is advancing quickly and as new developments and technologies arise, so the number of possible applications increases. Maintaining a global presence in this diverse arena is Bürkert Fluid Control Systems; the company has developed a microfluidics product line and expanded it over the years based on experience and expertise in the field, working with its customers to deliver on demanding expectations.
Bürkert uses an international network of Systemhaus facilities to take requests from customers and develop them into finished products locally, using a philosophy developed over 15 years which allows the company’s development engineers to pool resources and knowledge in order to solve problems at the Systemhaus design and development hubs. The whole process focuses on the clients’ requirements and how they can be delivered by the best qualified team in the most efficient way. The first goal is to respond to every customer inquiry within 48 hours and provide an initial outline of the solution.
As soon as the project is initiated, a project manager is assigned and it is their responsibility to create a team that will pursue the project to completion. This team will contain all the necessary skills and expertise to design, simulate, prototype, construct and test the finished product. Working closely with the client, this team has the ability to ensure the most efficient methods are used to develop an idea into the completed design.
The first step for the team is to use their expertise to help the client understand all the available options and develop a design which will meet all the necessary specifications and standards as well as perform reliably and integrate with any existing infrastructure. By using 3D CAD animations or simulations combined with expert knowledge in manufacturing, materials and tool design, a firm production concept can be delivered at an early stage.
Detailed product definition
Once the concept is approved, the project is planned in detail with a full specification sheet defining exactly what will be delivered by the system and the requirements of each component. With such a wide range of standard products as well as the ability to create bespoke components, the project team can deliver a detailed product definition along with thorough documentation.
Within the Systemhaus facility it is only a short distance between the design office and the production areas, which helps in the communication of the product definition to the production engineers, who have the ability in some cases to deliver a functional model within 24 hours. The project team delivers the sample components to the client along with all the necessary local and global approvals to ensure that the design can go into production.
Each Systemhaus facility has a flexible development and prototyping space which enables the necessary machine tools, assembly areas and work areas required for each project to be located together and maintain the efficiencies of the project team involved. Using such a versatile and efficient workspace enables the Bürkert team to deliver the customer’s requirements on time.
Each and every product delivered by Bürkert is tested before shipment, and is supported by a comprehensive range of services including installation, commissioning, training and maintenance.
As the technology in microfluidics expands, so this innovative approach to product development allows Bürkert to meet challenges and expand its product range to accommodate new customer requirements. The company continues to invest heavily in research and development to ensure that it maintains its leading position within the industry.
Experts at Bürkert are always available to offer advice to clients looking to create or develop a microfluidics system and with a huge range of in-house capabilities, provide cost-effective products. The Systemhaus teams, based across the world, offer the knowledge and expertise to design the product combined with the manufacturing capability to produce it and obtain all the necessary global approvals required.
As the range of industries employing microfluidics grows, so the diversity of the systems required expands as well. Bürkert has been careful to ensure that its business model is fully prepared to accommodate this expansion while giving every customer the detailed and timely attention they require.
To learn more about product development, including microfluidic systems, please visit www.burkert.co.uk.