6 steps to quick innovation in engineering

17 Feb 2020 7min read

In medical device consulting we are often faced with a complex problem to solve. With the right brains and the right tools, we can solve most challenges. But how do we get to these solutions quickly and to budget?

When we are exploring solutions and innovative ideas for medical devices, it’s good to assess their feasibility early on and determine which ideas are worth developing further. Usually a collaboration between design and engineering, we need to work cooperatively to work through and test out our ideas.

We want to quickly find a solution that works – to save time and money and avoid getting wedded to bad ideas. Here are our six tips for solving problems quickly and cost effectively.

1 Assess feasibility

Sometimes, it’s really worth doing some due diligence before ploughing ahead with design and prototyping. Can your idea actually be achieved? Are there some assumptions you are making which need to be proven? Some quick calculations or desk-based research can help sanity-check your ideas before potentially wasting time and effort on something which isn’t feasible.

2 Be collaborative

It’s very tempting to try and solve problems alone but – especially in medical device development – there is a high chance that a colleague of yours has faced a similar problem before or knows a lot about a technology you are trying to work with. Speaking to others and asking questions can save time, result in a better concept and stop you from making mistakes others have already learned from.

3 Focus on the key challenge

In early phase development, the fastest way to get to the solution is to remain focussed on the main problem. What is it that you’re trying to solve? What is it that your design needs to achieve? If the challenge taking you extra time is not key to the function of the product, focus on it later.

4 Sketch

Computer Aided Design (CAD) is a fantastic tool, used by almost every designer and engineer for designing and analysing concepts before manufacturing them. However, jumping into CAD too early can be a mistake. Sketching out an idea first and figuring out what you want to design can save a lot of time and stop you from getting stuck twirling your CAD model around without knowing what to do next.

5 Iterate, test, iterate, test

Analysing ideas in theory is important, but often takes longer than needed and is not always comprehensive. Sometimes, the best way to figure something out – and to understand aspects of a design that need adjusting – is to get a concept in your hands. If you have a theory, build it and test it. A fast-paced process of design, prototype, test, iterate can help produce great results, quickly.

6 The 80/20 rule

In early phase concept development, your design isn’t going to be made in vast volumes or go anywhere near the human body; it doesn’t need to be perfect or refined to the nth degree. The 80/20 rule says that you can achieve 80% of the development in 20% of the project’s length. Following this rule can be a great way of speeding up the innovation process: if you focus on the key deliverables of the concept, and prioritise these, you can provide assurance that the design is feasible much earlier on. Once that is proven, you can devote the remaining 80% of the time to refinement and optimisation.

To conclude

Our fast-paced approach to the early phases of medical device development sees quick and effective innovation. It helps our clients get off on the right foot, with early clarity on the reality of a project’s challenges to prevent stumbling blocks and surprises further down the line. Time isn’t wasted pursuing infeasible concepts, but different ideas are explored and evaluated so that the best solution is established early.

Are you struggling to solve an engineering challenge? How can we help you? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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