March 05, 2019

How Did We Prototype New Products and Research New Ideas

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Whenever we worked on new products at Robroy, we would often have to prototype them, as well as research new ideas that would lead to new processes and systems.

Of course, we couldn’t just create a new product and start producing it en masse; we had to research it, prototype it, and test it before we could ever offer it on the market.

The way we went about it all depended on the product, but there were certain steps that every new product had to go through.

We had a consistent ongoing review process of the products and the standards that were in place at any one given time, including things like EPA regulations, OSHA standards, ANSI, and UL standards. We continuously looked to ensure each product met or exceeded any one of those.

We would ask for feedback from the users of our various products and we had an ongoing review of all of this feedback. We made necessary adjustments to existing products, and add features and capabilities to the existing products as a way to make the users’ lives easy.

Not only did we use our internal staff to monitor and manage all of these processes, we had outside subject matter experts and designers that we regularly worked with. For example, if we wanted a higher chemical resistance of a glass-reinforced epoxy liner, we would use subject matter experts like chemists to add value to that process. That meant we didn’t have to hire them and keep them on staff all year, we just used them when we needed them.

When it came to actually prototyping the products those were usually hand-made. This was before anything like 3D printing, which has been a real boon to prototyping. Of course, 3D printing cannot necessarily handle all types of materials, and there are some limitations to it in certain places. However, it has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.

Once we had the initial research and prototyping done, then we actually had to produce the first run of the product. Then we would test it by sending it off to various testing laboratories, like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), for official testing and certification. For example, there’s a UL stamp on all your home appliances. You have to test each appliance with UL to ensure that you meet or exceed the minimum standards. We had to do the same thing with nearly all of our products, since they were being used primarily in the oil and gas industry, and safety was an important factor.

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