Case Study

Patented Vial Automation Process Line Design and Build Support

Project Snapshot

In response to the government’s “warped speed” initiative to find a coronavirus vaccine, a custom automation company needed to develop a process line to mass produce vials that would be used to store the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines and therapeutics.

The process line used a patented Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Depositing Technology to apply a barrier media to plastics. Because of the urgency of the COVID-19 response, the prototype/design/fabrication cycle needed to be accelerated to meet the demand of “Operation Warp Speed”.

Project Challenges

A custom automation company and advanced materials company needed to co-develop a process line that consisted of multiple machine modules integrated with a patented technology.
Due to accelerated schedule to produce vials, the custom automation company needed to engage a partner who could quickly collaborate with the co-development team to design and build a proof of concept prototype.
After the prototype validation, a value engineering phase was required to reduce the system cost so that 13 automated process lines (~10 machine modules / process line) could be produced cost effectively within the compressed schedule.
The compressed design schedule also required daily design reviews and progress reporting to the customer.
To deliver the 13 automated process lines, the client needed additional help with project management, purchasing, machine build and assembly support.
“What may have taken most companies eighteen months to execute, was accomplished in a fraction of the time…”

Sterling’s Solution

Sterling Engineering was engaged by the client to provide the expertise to develop next generation designs and provide the manpower for scalability to bring these systems to market.

Sterling immediately mobilized and assigned design engineers to the project. The design and detailing of the project were accomplished by utilizing two shifts in less than 4 weeks.

To fast track the design during the kick off meeting, Sterling worked with the client to analyze the source data for similar stations and apply the knowledge to the design of the new stations for this particular application.

Sterling’s team included 2 Project Managers which served as a liaison between client’s lead engineers and SEI design engineers. Project Managers coordinated the design/detailing effort over around-the-clock shifts to compress the delivery schedule.

The system was designed with Solidworks 3D-CAD to produce assembly models, detailed part drawings and assembly drawings with bill of materials. These tools allowed Sterling to verify station operation and fitment of the overall system resulting in a safe and efficient process layout.

Sterling focused on the design, allowing the client to concentrate their expertise on fabrication, assembly and installation of the production line to satisfy speed to market demand.

After the initial project scope was completed, the client invited Sterling to construct a team (of project managers, controls engineers, electricians, machine builders, purchasing buyers and project coordinators) to help them coordinate the fabrication, assembly and validation of the process lines.

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