Pressing on with Remote Lab Trials

by Ken Forziati , Director of Business Development & Product Management

September 22, 2020

Perseverance in the face of uncertainty is the recurring theme that many members of the industries we serve continue to communicate. We are all aware of the challenges the pandemic has had on our businesses and everyday life. We do our best to adapt, innovate, and carry on, making the necessary adjustments to overcome those challenges. Now that Parkinson Technologies’ Marshall & Williams Biax Lab operates at full capacity, we have adopted new techniques to help customers achieve successful trials.

The most common obstacles customers continue to face are COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Some researchers are reluctant to travel due to personal safety concerns, or they may face strict corporate edicts prohibiting them from making the trip to Woonsocket. Those coming from areas where the virus is not adequately contained may be required to quarantine or obtain COVID testing before arrival in Rhode Island, and international travel is not yet permitted.  These travel restrictions are a hindrance, but researchers still need to continue their product development initiatives.

Nothing can substitute for being side-by-side with a technician during a trial. The ability to observe the process in person, analyze data, discuss the recommendations, and make process adjustments in real-time are the true benefits of conducting trials at our technology labs. However, for those unable to make the journey to Woonsocket, RI, there are viable alternatives.

Like other aspects of everyday business activities, researchers can now benefit from technology that allows for remote trials. Through phone and video conferencing, trials can continue as scheduled. Mobile cameras and high-speed internet offer a real-time observation. Of course, the obvious benefit is not having to travel. However, another unforeseen benefit that researchers who already conducted trials have discovered is the ability for multiple locations to remote into the trial to share in those observations.

Conducting trials remotely is a practical, if not ideal, solution, but a few contingencies should be addressed in advance. If the internet connection should fail, an alternative communication method should be ready, such as a landline or cell phone. Time differences can be an issue if the researcher’s location is in another time zone. Here in Rhode Island, we start trials at 8:00 am Eastern Time. If the researcher is in California, then their trials start at 5:00 am local Pacific Time, which may be less than ideal unless they are an early riser. For European or Asian customers, however, it can be a deal-breaker. Parkinson Technologies allows customers to send us their camera equipment if desired to ensure that it is the appropriate video quality/format for their needs.

Conducting remote trials is a reasonable alternative to traveling to the facility to be present for trials. Researchers willing to conduct remote trials have had good results, and more customers are now accepting rather than rejecting the idea. However, there is careful planning involved.

The biggest issue remains that the lab is booked to full capacity through the end of the year as we continue working through the backlog of work that the COVID related shutdowns created. It’s more difficult than ever to schedule everyone in their desired time frame, so please be sure to reach out to us well in advance when you would like to run trials to see when a suitable time slot is available.

For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact us.