Over the past couple of years, Dekati R&D Director Ville Niemelä has been frequently feeling like a winner. The feeling comes when he checks with the R&D team what they have achieved, and the result has been better than he expected.
– At the end of such a week, I feel like a million bucks when I drive home, Niemelä says.
In early 2019, Dekati made a strategic decision to strive for a market that would open up from scratch when it became clear that European legislation on particulate measurements in car inspections was changing.
– It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. We thought that the technology we had been using for 25 years would be the best choice to implement the device that the market needs, and our assessment has proven to be correct. The solution based on our patented technology is reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable.
The advantage of the patented Dekati® ePNC ™ sensor is its simple structure. Thanks to the patented technology, no sample dilution or flow control are required. Every single measurement or adjustment increases the complexity, susceptibility, and cost of the system – now they have been kept to a minimum.
A Two-year Product Development Project
The development of the Dekati® ePNC ™ sensor started in early 2019 in the eight-person R&D team. The company had recruited new know-how, e.g. an aerosol physics specialist, and new equipment was also procured for development work. For the first year, the team equipped with different skills came up with ideas, innovated, and explored opportunities until a guiding idea for implementing the product was found. It combined Dekati’s previous expertise with new knowledge of theoretical phenomena.
– It was always a happy moment when we found out our solution worked exactly as we wanted it to work, Niemelä recalls.
In the project, year 2020 was divided into two halves: during the early part of the year, the team utilized its experience in building the device. The first table-sized, function-tested implementation was reached with mechanical and electronics designers in a fairly straightforward manner, proceeding to the final device, the size of a coffee packet.
The rest of the year was spent on ensuring production capacity and a sufficiently low production cost – designing manufacturing technologies, planning production infrastructure and production methods, and building testing systems.
The Dekati® ePNC ™ Sensor Is Ready for the Market
Different R&D projects often have many of the same elements, but in one respect, the development of the Dekati® ePNC ™ sensor was different from typical Dekati projects.
– The requirements for measurement have been enshrined in legislation, so it does not make sense to create a more accurate measurement, and this made the project partly easier. We are used to measuring as accurately as possible, Niemelä describes the needs of Dekati’s typical customers in the scientific community.
Finishing the product was also a lighter-than-usual process: because clients are device manufacturers, user interface design and device design remain for them to finalize. Dekati Technologies supplies the sensor as an OEM component.
Now, Dekati® ePNC ™ sensor is ready for the market. Test batches from the subcontractor have arrived and trial use of the automated testing system has begun.
External sensor evaluations at Ricardo PLC in the UK have shown that Dekati® ePNC ™ meets regulatory requirements. Similar evaluations in Switzerland and Italy are just beginning.
– Such a product development project is a great opportunity to see how our product development team can combine their skills. The contribution of the whole team, both in terms of theoretical knowledge and practical know-how, leads in the same direction; marketing brings a message about things to consider, and mechanical and electronics design identifies the requirements that are essential for the product’s functionality. We have been able to do the right things and the project has been very interesting, thanks to the whole team. Now we can congratulate ourselves – we did better than we could have imagined in the very first phase, Niemelä concludes.