You may not be very familiar with the concept of a systems engineer. But can you imagine the launch of a satellite without someone having been responsible for ensuring all the systems work together? Or the opening of a new railway without confirmation that the system is fully functioning? Or in our case, the implementation of an automated system for processing laboratory samples that includes several instruments, different types of consumables and users, connections with information systems… without exhaustive guidance from the conception stage to ensure that all the parts of the whole interact harmoniously as one?
Your answer will probably be ‘no’.
The list of past fiascos is as long as the results have been costly and frustrating, from the satellite that never managed to go into orbit, because two teams of engineers on different sides of the Atlantic were working with different unit systems, to the case of the high-speed train, where, close to its launch, it was discovered that between the rails that led to a tunnel and the rails in the tunnel itself there was an insurmountable difference in level of more than half a metre, which put the project back years.
As Bernardo A. Delicado observes in his article “The need to introduce systems engineering into education programmes in engineering,” the role of the systems engineer is becoming one of the most important roles in engineering in the present day, mainly due to the appearance of new technologies and a growing demand from clients for the development of increasingly complex and interconnected systems.
Systems engineers are the chefs of engineering
In relation to automated solutions for microbiology laboratories, this role is of decisive importance. We could divide the principal responsibilities of systems engineers into two broad categories, based on when their contribution is made:
- Conceptualization of systems
- Identification of added value
Together with the marketing and business development teams, the first important contribution made by the systems engineer is to help with the conceptualization of new instruments that will generate value for users and clients. This process is not a simple one, given that it requires a combination of numerous elements which, after a joint evaluation, end in a proposal.
Why is the systems engineer so important in the conceptualization of automated solutions for laboratories?
The systems engineer must have a knowledge of market trends and regulations, they must be familiar with the different profiles of user who will use the new instrument, and finally, they must be able to identify the many different technologies available.
Drawing on these three types of knowledge, the systems engineer must devise creative, innovative and holistic solutions that are oriented towards the client.
There are many parameters to consider:
- A focus on improving patient diagnosis.
- Holistic olutions that can be integrated into different workflows.
- Multiple connectivity, ease of use
- Development or integration of pre-existing modules
- Product life cycle…
Systems coordination and integration
At a later stage, the systems engineer plays a vital part in the technical coordination and integration of systems
They must coordinate the integration of this knowledge of different fields into the development of the (electronic, mechanical, software, …) system defined, guarantee the quality of this integration, thereby increasing the possibilities of success of the new instrument, and ensure that the system conceptualized earlier offers the added value expected by the end users.
Would you like to learn more about our systems engineering team and the contribution they make to our automation solutions for laboratories? Contact us >