Designing R&D Facilities that Work: From the Inside Out

November 3, 2022 - Author: Chris Arnold - Managing Director, ACS Michigan, Matt Jorgensen - Director, Facility Engineering and Site Management

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Designing R&D facilities that work from the inside out

Inside Out Approach to Design and Building R&D Facilities

Testing is at the heart of the R&D process, with test facilities crucial for developing and validating new products. Creating new technology demands substantial R&D. These R&D facilities have complex needs like intricate foundations, precise temperature control, and high power requirements. As the primary testing goals are to gather crucial data for decision-making, every component must be tailored to suit testing needs. Designing R&D facilities starts with understanding the testing process and prioritizing an optimized testing environment.

R&D testing aims to gather essential data for decision-making, requiring meticulous design, engineering, and procurement of every system component. Collaboration with development engineers is key to identifying the necessary data for evaluation upfront. For instance, in designing a battery test facility, understanding all constraints related to battery testing is crucial. Teams must ask pertinent questions about test circumstances and data collection needs, such as voltage and current limits, environmental constraints, and testing profiles. Documenting these conditions facilitates optimal selection of test equipment, location, and integration within the facility, ensuring swift response rates align with testing requirements.

Looking at the project’s economics from the inside out helps companies see the big picture. While construction cost per square foot is important, don’t overlook operating costs over time. The design choices affecting product flow, support systems, and labor directly impact operating costs. Designing from the inside out is an important step in the facility planning process and leads to a design and building process that’s well laid out from the start and with a realistic budget, resulting in minimal reengineering and field changes.

An inside-out approach tackles both the core concepts and physical aspects of a project simultaneously. R&D testing facilities are driven by project goals and business priorities, making it crucial to start with this core in mind and address other needs from there. These facilities are complex, especially due to the intricate nature of the tested products. Starting with a clear vision of the project’s end goal helps align various elements like design, infrastructure, processes, and layout more effectively. This streamlined approach ensures products are tested safely and efficiently, providing companies with the necessary information to bring their best products to market.

Read more in the Design News article, “Designing R&D Facilities that Work: From the Inside Out” written by Chris Arnold, Managing Director, ACS Michigan, and Matt Jorgensen, Director, Facility Engineering and Site Management, here.

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