The 2020 Pandemic Hit Hard; Tekna, Inc. Hit Back Harder
See how Tekna, Inc. responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and even cut development times in half while working remotely with SOLIDWORKS.
Rapidly develop and commercialize ultraviolet disinfection technology for disinfecting common handheld items like tools, phones, and tablets to meet market opportunities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utilize integrated SOLIDWORKS product development solutions to quickly bring ultraviolet disinfection technology to market.
- Cut development cycle in half
- Quickly validated door-closing design via simulation
- Launched new company during pandemic
- Commercialized ultraviolet disinfection technology into broader markets Challenge:
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck the United States, many larger manufacturing companies halted much of their product development activity. Tekna, the largest design and product development consultancy in Michigan, was left lacking clients and projects. So, the company decided to build its own product to thwart the pandemic: Ultraviolet disinfection technology.
“We viewed the shutdown as an opportunity to develop our own product,” says Tekna Vice President of Product Innovation, Mike Nellenbach. “We saw the need for disinfection as a real market opportunity because the Covid-19 pandemic created the need to disinfect common hand-held items—tools, phones, and tablets—as well as larger items, such as laptops used in schools. With the AvaUV disinfection unit, which comes in three sizes, these items can be disinfected in as fast as 30 seconds, helping to curb the spread of pathogens.”
Tekna created a spin-off company to commercialize ultraviolet disinfection technology instead of cutting staff.
“Innovation isn’t just about creating an idea. It’s about transforming ideas into meaningful solutions and delivering value to the marketplace, and SOLIDWORKS tools are helping us achieve that goal.”
Even though they were forced to work remotely while developing a world-class product, the Tekna design team was able to cut the development cycle in half, from 18 to 24 months down to 8 to 10 months using several tools, including integrated SOLIDWORKS® solutions.
“The team knew that we needed to complete this project faster than any that we’ve done before, so in addition to a lot of late nights, we looked for ways to save time, such as using the model instead of physical prototypes for design reviews and building just one final prototype for testing,” says Mechanical Engineer/Project Manager Brendan Fike. “Using section views and cross-sectioning the model in SOLIDWORKS enabled us to identify and resolve design issues. This was actually more revealing than using a prototype because we could cut through and see inside the design.”
Tekna utilized integrated SOLIDWORKS mechanical design, simulation, and manufacturing solutions (and worked with an outside vendor that developed printed circuit boards (PCBs) using Altium® electronic design software) to further accelerate development. Fike says SOLIDWORKS Simulation tools were especially helpful in resolving a technical issue involving identifying and validating the best mechanism for opening and closing the door on the smallest “capsule” version of the AvaUV.
The AvaUV utilizes a specific 254nm wavelength of UVC, which is proven to deliver peak germicidal efficacy. UVC, or ultraviolet light, is an effective way to prevent microorganisms from replicating and spreading in any environment. When nucleic acids of pathogen DNA and RNA are destroyed, they cannot function. While originally designed for healthcare professionals and food production, the AvaUV is also targeted toward many other potential applications, such as hospitality, financial institutions, and schools. The AvaUV entered beta testing at Western Michigan University as well as several other regional facilities in late 2020.
Using integrated SOLIDWORKS solutions, Tekna quickly developed and introduced an innovative, in-demand product. As Nellenbach says, “Innovation isn’t just about creating an idea. It’s about transforming ideas into meaningful solutions and delivering value to the marketplace, and SOLIDWORKS tools are helping us achieve that goal.”