In an earlier blog, How to Select a Custom Manufacturing Equipment Supplier, we provided a flowchart you could use to find your way to the right solution for your equipment needs.
Created by our VP of Engineering with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, the chart captures the sometimes challenging decision flow involved in getting from custom equipment need to solution. This blog will take you through the first step in the process: searching for an off-the-shelf (OTS) equipment option for your manufacturing solution.
The Right Place to Start
It’s wise to start by looking for an OTS solution; you might be surprised at what can be found. Today’s industrial ecosystem is incredibly diverse and specialized. A solution to your problem may be just a click away. But finding that ready-made solution can be a frustrating process…
Presumably, you’re looking for a custom solution because your initial web searching didn’t reveal anything useful. At this point, wading deeper into the search engine results may seem like an exercise in futility.
We are regularly asked to design custom equipment that we know (or strongly suspect) can be found off-the-shelf somewhere. In such cases, we may be able to help refer you to the appropriate vendor(s). But it’s worth the time and effort up front to try to short-circuit that process.
Searching Best Practices
Search terms are the key of course, and specialized or technical keywords work best. At Owens Design, we get regular website hits from people looking for equipment to handle lyophilized beads because we’ve worked with these unique materials and, frankly, it’s hard to imagine a more specific and specialized search term than lyophilized bead handling. If you’re looking for this, you’ll find us!
Sometimes, however, the challenge is that the equipment you need exists in a different industry and/or application, and the right terminology may be a complete mystery to you. Start by casting a wide net of related terms. Spend time exploring what may appear to be unrelated links to try to “sniff out” something close to what you need; it might lead you to the right industry or jargon. Sometimes an image search may be more useful; you know what the machine should look like, and a suitable image may end up being the gateway to the proper terminology to complete your search.
In the end, there may be no existing solution. But it’s worth the due diligence because, if there is an OTS solution, it will likely be the fastest and least expensive option.
If OTS is not a realistic option, it’s time to figure out how to engineer and manufacture the custom machine that fits your needs. In our next blog, we will explore a vital first step in this process: determining your purpose for the custom manufacturing equipment.
Follow us on LinkedIn for our next blog update. If you have an immediate need for custom manufacturing equipment, feel free to contact us. One of our team members will be happy to help you through this process.
We’ve written a series of blogs introducing various manufacturing equipment options and the process for determining which is the best for you. Start with the first blog, or read the next blog: How to Select a Custom Manufacturing Equipment Supplier.