The ability to listen and to adapt to the needs of the customer are the strengths of FPS. The mock-up phase is a unique opportunity for the users and the designers to collaborate.
Is a mock-up really necessary?
Some companies feel that they have surveyed the needs of their internal users well enough that they don’t need to confirm the design with a mock-up and can save some money.
But decades of experience have proven otherwise. Mock-ups are critical to optimize ergonomics, maximize user friendliness (the devil is in the details) and get the end users buy-in (because they are associated to the design process). It also avoids misunderstandings that can lead to small design imperfections which would cost time and money to get solved later in the project.
What is the goal of the mock-up?
A mock-up mimics the final system and help determine the optimal positioning of all the components, simulate the process tasks and the product flow as well as examine the issues that were not discussed previously.
What exactly is a mock-up?
It is a structure that faithfully reproduces the machine on a 1:1 scale and provides a physical representation, as detailed as possible, of what the final system will look like. The structure is typically made of wood. It also allows the designer and the customer to quickly make changes and try different types of improvement during the mock-up review.
Who is involved in the mock-up phase?
It all starts with the ergonomic study from FPS which is carried out by an experienced design team. This results in a General Arrangement Drawing (GA) that is submitted to the customer. The customer project team is typically made of engineers, users and health & safety staff. They review the GA and offer comments. These are integrated in an 3D Design which is the starting point for the mock-up (see below).
What are the steps?
- 3D Model of the isolator
- Drawing the mock-up
- Construction of the mock-up
- Construction of the internal components (or integrate equipment, tools, containers, etc)
- Make the polycarbonate windows and position the glove ports
- Mock-up review by the customer and the project team
- Final report with the details of the findings and solutions found
What is the mock-up review?
It is a simulation of the routine tasks that the operator will perform inside the isolator. It is preferred that the actual process equipment, tools, containers, etc, are used for this simulation but if not available FPS will simulate them.
The great advantage of making a mock-up is to let real end users perform the tasks and "play" with the system and then critique how these tasks are actually performed with the isolator.
Where is the mock-up review conducted?
Typically, customers visit FPS to perform the review in Italy along with the project manager, the designer and other project team members. For small and medium size isolators, the structure can be shipped to the customer site. It allows the review to take place with the highest number of users and stake holders. In that case some FPS members will visit the customer and a remote session can be organized with the rest of the FPS project team.
Using a mock-up can really help achieve the best possible ergonomics and user friendliness. It fosters strong collaboration between the isolator designers and users. The customer is supported and guided at each step by the FPS project team, that under the coordination of the Project Manager, works together with the customer to find the best design solutions.