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Equipment Design Review & FMEA Success Story

A US provider of medication handling systems to hospitals and long-term care facilities was failing to make significant progress on the alpha system for an innovative approach to medication management.

person adding notes to a detailed project plan and timeline


The company engaged the services of Pre Automation Solutions to validate the business case, evaluate the concept, and advance an executable program plan.


Beginning with a review of the project already underway and the alpha concept and equipment, we made several vendor site visits and performed an overall project risk analysis. Initial findings concluded that the project was following an iterative design and test process rather than a more formalized approach. As a consequence, there was no design/build end in sight. The client, with little previous exposure to fully automated systems, was skeptical.

We initiated an equipment design review and failure-modes-and-effects-analysis (FMEA). The result was a rebuilt and re-programmed working system that demonstrated technological capability and included:

  • the identification of short-term and longer-term remedial activities
  • documented user and design requirements
  • control code changes
  • mechanical assembly changes
  • vendor changes

This resulted in a renewed confidence in both the technology and in a potential partnership with an automation company.

Once all the system requirements were captured in a formal User Requirements Document, we were able to outline several automation solutions and estimate the cost of each. By considering the market potential, the typical long-term care profile and demand forecast, and the cost of the various conceptual automation solutions, we developed a viable business proposal.

We developed a ProModel™ simulation of the proposed system to challenge the design assumptions and predict the performance of the system within each new long-term-care facility using the facility’s order history. Where performance was not as expected, simulation experiments led to clarified design details, all of which were incorporated into the User Requirements.


Our client received approval to proceed with the business plan and placed an order with us for the design/build of a new automated system—the first of a multi-order purchase. The order included activities aimed at mitigating future risk. The simulation model was added to the customer’s marketing tools for demonstrating system performance to future customers.  And, the client entered into a turnkey automation partnership agreement with ATS.