Steelworks and scalability:
A study in contrasts

As our ‘smallest’ project realizes a major development milestone, our ‘largest’ project embarks for a new home in the American mid-west.

On Monday, December 8, Steelworks was host to a press conference announcing the PKA Soft Touch – a revolutionary micro-needle drug delivery system – was preparing to enter clinical trials. The device, conceived by PKA Soft Touch CEO Dick Crawford, penetrates just below the skin and above the underlying network of nerves. The resulting pain-free drug administration is set to revolution the treatment process for diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Steelworks has worked with PKA Soft Touch since 2007 to design and develop the complex production equipment required to produce the micro-needle’s drug capsule. “It’s not the kind of project we get every day,” explained Steelworks President Don Barnet. “While it presented unique challenges, including the forming and sealing of the capsule, our methodology to overcome them remained consistent with our other work. It’s only the final product that stands out as being different.”

Clinical trials being conducted at Westmount Pharmacy, the project’s third partner, are expected to take six months.

Meanwhile, Steelworks’ engineers and fabricators were busy wrapping up production of their largest project to date. The transport trailer-sized testing skid for GE Oil & Gas, was developed to test a new breed of downwell pump designed in a recent GE/Steelworks collaboration.

The equipment is designed to simulate a variety of operating conditions and measure the resulting output. “A project of this type, one that’s incredibly complex to design and build, requires a very strong engineering capability” says Don Barnet. “It’s very meaningful that after our initial work in designing the pump, GE Oil & Gas approached us to continue partnering in it’s development.”

Testing will occur at a GE Oil & Gas facility in Oklahoma City, OK.

The PKA Soft Touch fits comfortably in the palm of a hand whereas the GE Testing Skid dwarfs the engineers milling around it. Evident between them however, is the scalability of Steelworks’ process. As Don explains, “Clients approach us with concepts in various stages of evolution, some well-formed, others simply as ideas. Our goal with each is to ‘find the middle’, the most challenging hurdle to overcome and work out from there.” As a process, it places thought and problem solving front and centre, and ensures we remain true to the purpose of the equipment, throughout it’s development. At the same time it affords us the freedom to take on projects that would not otherwise fit more conventional approaches.