The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland helped specialist engineering consultancy Astrimar develop its Rapid Acceptance of Product & Technologies (RAPAT) tool, which rapidly guides users through developing and deploying new products for market.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers increasingly diversified their product portfolios to meet the needs for masks, visors and other health equipment. With many companies failing to gain product approval for new products due to a lack of awareness of requirements, standards and documentation, Astrimar looked to develop a Microsoft Excel-based tool that would guide users through the development and approval process as quickly as possible.
How did NMIS help?
Astrimar provides consultancy for risk, integrity, reliability and technology qualification within various sectors, but lacks in-house product development experience and relevant medical industry links and approached NMIS for support in these areas.
NMIS engineers from the Design Engineering team attended workshops and reviewed the tool during development to provide feedback and insight, helping to assure the quality of the finished product. They also collaborated on a series of Astrimar-led webinars to help increase industry engagement and helped guide potential users on practical use of the tool. The NMIS Machining and Additive Manufacturing team provided links to relevant medical industry contacts and projects to help pilot the tool.
Funded by Innovate UK, the RAPAT tool has grown in scope and impact since it’s successful launch in 2020. The RAPAT tool, initially provided for free to support the urgent pandemic reposonse, is now available as a commercial license with access to a broader range of tools and support. It has been downloaded around 200 times and allowed Astrimar to reach new markets beyond its key oil and gas markets, such as medical, manufacturing, aerospace, renewable energy, utilities, automotive, and defence.
Astrimar received a total of £75,000 Innovate UK funding for developing the tool, which allowed it to return two employees from furlough, meaning it could retain key skillsets despite multiple contracts and projects being cancelled/delayed due to the pandemic.
A positive industry response to the tool shows its success in facilitating rapid response technologies to aid the COVID-19 response and recovery, but also supporting the UK supply chain to innovate in a wide range of sectorsthroughout COVID. Beyond the COVID response the commercial RAPAT tool, provides additional functionality to support wide-ranging technology innovation and product development activities, and provides a new revenue stream.
“We are delighted to have played a part in helping companies develop and bring potentially life-saving products and technologies to market.
Our intent wasn’t commercial gain but to support the UK manufacturing supply chain with innovating through the pandemic and challenging economic climate. The tool has, however, allowed us to retain staff during this time and plan for future growth with an enhanced commercial version scheduled to launch in September 2021.”
Caroline Roberts Haritonov, Director, Astrimar