With corporate trends towards “jobless recoveries” and reducing the ratio of fixed expenses relative to variable expenses, more Life Science instrument companies are choosing to outsource some combination of their design and manufacturing efforts.
Outsourcing is a valuable tool that allows instrument companies to shorten their design cycles and focus their internal resources on sustaining instrument designs and innovations relative to revenue-generating consumables.
Outsourcing can save money, but it adds complexity.
What should I outsource?
The answer to the question of what to outsource is different for every company. The answer always starts with an assessment of core competencies and the desired level of control over the design and manufacturing process. Answers range from outsourcing only the design to outsourcing only the manufacturing--and every combination in between.
In order to maintain a higher level of control over the instrument design and associated intellectual property, many OEMs are choosing to maintain system level design responsibility. They are working with suppliers that have both the engineering and manufacturing capability to provide instrument modules that are fully qualified and plug into the overall system, thus reducing risk.
What are some of the risks?
A significant project issue is the increasing geographical separation between OEM design teams, OEM manufacturing teams, contract manufacturers, and all the associated supply chains. To help to mitigate this risk, it is ideal to have a partner that can provide appropriate engineering support where the instrument is being designed and appropriate manufacturing capability where the instrument is being integrated. This type of co-location helps to minimize delays in communication and maximize overall support.
What are the keys to success in this outsourced world?
With automation, robotics, and motion control being such an integral element of today’s Life Science instrument, choosing the right partner specifically for a modular sub-system to the overall instrument can often be the most critical outsourcing decision. Ideally, your automation partner will be able to provide you:
- A portfolio of robust standard products for rapid early development
- The engineering capability to add value
- Technologies to optimize the product design for your specific application
- The overall process capability to act as an extension of your team both in development and production
- Modular solutions that can be reused to reduce regulatory approvals
- With Selectable Levels of Integration™, your best partner will provide the right solution at every phase of the development process.
Read more about the 3 Megatrends Driving Change in Life Science Robotics in our whitepaper.
You can also find more information in the first two parts of this series. The first blog looked at demographic changes driving increasing demand in automation and robotics. The second blog discussed personalized medicine, enabled by automation, and looked at how automation in being applied in Life Sciences. This blog, which focused on outsourcing, completes our series on megatrends driving change in Life Science robotics and automation.
Article contributed by Brian Handerhan, Business Development Manager for Parker Hannifin Corporation, Electromechanical Division North America, Automation Group.