What Does an “Inside-Out” Approach to R&D Testing Really Mean?

January 12, 2023

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If testing is the heart of the R&D process, then the test facility used to develop and validate new products represents the rest of the complex and moving body that the heart powers when producing safe, effective, and innovative products. The overarching goal of R&D testing is collecting vital data for decision-making. This means every piece of the body must be designed, engineered, and procured to meet the needs of that core test. In other words: if the heart isn’t working, the rest of the body will shut down. Starting the building design for an R&D facility by understanding the testing process at its center and working from the “inside out” is foundational to creating an optimized testing environment.

An “Inside-Out” Approach to R&D Testing Facility Design and Construction Means…

  • Avoiding pitfalls of an “outside-in” approach. According to Matt Jorgensen, Project Manager and Principal with ACS, “Owners often start the planning process by focusing on either the building footprint or the test equipment. While these are both critical components of the planning process, if considered independently, they fall short of accounting for all aspects of the testing process.”
  • Testing criteria is at the heart of the design. At the core of an inside-out approach is understanding the unit under test (UUT), testing program, goals, data requirements, process, and workflow. This turns planning into a valuable process of discovery. Front end planning accounts for the fact that testing is the core of any R&D testing facility. It’s best to clearly define the testing, design, and acceptance criteria for the facility at the start and adjust as needed, including current utilization requirements, future needs for potential growth, and changing technology.
  • Alignment established from the start. Taking an inside-out approach to designing an R&D testing facility is all about maintaining alignment across the whole process. When teams collaborate with involved parties including the facility managers, test requestors, operators, integrators, and other stakeholders on the front-end rather than after the fact, and it keeps testing goals, overall organizational goals, and the final facility result aligned.

R&D Testing Results in Growth

Designing and constructing a facility from start to finish is no easy task. An inside-out approach ensures planning is completed with collaborative, precise, and data-driven goals in mind that ensure the facility delivers on scope, timeline, and budget.

Delivering an integrated R&D, production or industrial facility construction project is a complex process that is best executed by a team with single-source responsibility. If you’re in need of a well-planned facility to achieve your goals, connect with us. Our expertise and “plan, execute, verify” approach to testing, equipment, and facilities projects can provide the foundation you need for your next successful capital project.

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Q: As you work with clients, what kind of testing criteria is essential to define before creating an R&D facility plan?

A: Fundamentally, we want to understand the product you plan to test now and in the future. We need to know what your product is today and what the maximums are for everything that will touch the unit under test (UUT) to future-proof for potential product iterations. It might be five things or two hundred. For example, if we’re looking at an engine cell, we want to know the performance specifications of the potential engine and everything you want to test for: what is the expected horsepower, speed, torque, pressure, temperature, and efficiency of the engine and any future iterations.

All the test equipment, test systems, utilities, and facility need to be designed to meet the potential performance requirements. A test is meant to push a product to its extremes. Dimensions of the space are critical, but I would say those are almost secondary compared to the performance specifications. — Matt Jorgensen

Matt Jorgensen – Director, Facilities Engineering & Site Management Project Manager; Principal


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