Members Question Time (MQT)

When an IRDG member company has an issue or query about which other members may have experience, ideas and/or expertise, we circulate that to the wider network on an anonymous basis – via Members Question Time. We collate the feedback and make the final report available to those interested.  

Below you will see a sample of the questions posed by members. Any member is welcome to request a copy of the report compiled arising from any of the questions below. Equally contributions are welcome from anyone who may be able to assist with a particular MQT. Contact Mary Byrne, Membership Development & Communications Manager – – with any queries.

Members Question Time – 2018

Well-established Irish SME company is seeking to identify an Irish based contract manufacturing company operating to Good Manufacturing Practice (Pharma) for an established

(a) oral powder and sachet’ed medicinal product (325kg batch size x 8+ batches per year filled into individual sachets) and

(b) tableting and blistering packed medicinal product (400kg approx 800,000 tablets per batch x 5 batches).

Seeking to move manufacturing into the Irish market.  Feb 2018

Our member is a software development company trying to build their capability in the area of unit testing.  They would appreciate the opportunity to connect with others who have expertise / experience in this area and they could talk to.

Please get in touch if you, or someone you know, would be open to engaging on this subject.  Feb 2018

An IRDG member has a question relating to Sprint & Hardware Development.

This member runs a 2-week cycle of Sprint with a daily scrum meeting. Most companies who use this approach are software companies, as scrum methodology originated in the software sector. They run the Sprint methodology to align with Agile project management and to take advantage of the high team engagement that is needed for Scrum, however there are challenges.

Our member would be interested in talking to and sharing experiences with other hardware development companies running sprint similarly to themselves.  They would be interested in discussing the advantages, disadvantages and pitfalls others have encountered and steps taken to overcome these.  They would also like to understand the systems being used to manage the backlog or to-do list, and how companies are measuring performance.  Jan 2018

Members Question Time – 2017

We are a small-sized, Class 1 medical device manufacturer who have designed and developed a range of products. Our activities cover the full range of R&D activities as well as manufacturing and sales. Our current systems (aside from financial) are all spreadsheet-based except for a recent attempt to cover some R&D activities with a combination of OneNote and SharePoint.

We are looking for suggested software packages to cover as much as possible of the activities and parts in the following areas:

In the R&D area:

  • R&D project planning.
  • Cloud-based collaboration between team members from different devices.
  • Documentation of experiments and prototypes with pictorial records.
  • Tracking hours for R&D tax credits.

In the manufacturing area:

  • An MRP or ERP system to cover a growing SKU list amounting to hundreds of components with the full capability of scheduling, resource planning, BOMs, inventory tracking & valuation.

Any and all feedback (positive and negative) from both prospective suppliers as well as businesses who have implemented any similar systems would be much welcomed.  Dec 2017

We are looking to source a product development system to manage our NPD projects and would appreciate some input on what systems people are using successfully at the moment, and any experiences they have gained from implementing them.

We operate in the Food & Beverage area, so systems used by those operating in that sector are obviously of interest, as are those used in other sectors that may potentially be applied to us.  In particular we would appreciate feedback on the use of any system to manage the costing element as well as the technical aspects.  Nov 2017

A member is trying to locate space to establish a laboratory, associated offices, reception and storage, which might be available to purchase or lease/rent to facilitate their expected growth. The space would ideally have previously housed a laboratory and be either furnished/unfurnished. The space available should be greater than 350sq meters and be located in the South East. They would need access to this space as soon as possible and where leased the minimum lease duration would be approx. 5-10 years.  Oct 2017

An Irish business, experienced in agri-business development and trade at an international level, is seeking to expand their business with new innovative offerings.

They are looking to acquire or collaborate with companies or individuals who have developed products or processes with respect to crop, poultry or livestock production.  This opportunity might suit some person or business who has developed an interesting product, and would benefit from the expertise and connections to bring it to market either in Ireland or internationally.

Companies can either be pre or existing turnover.  Sept 2017

A Class 1 medical device manufacturer producing custom-mouldable devices is looking for prospective partners (or personnel) to assist in the development of smart sensor and IOT technology into their devices.  In particular, to detect and prevent skin-surface pressure points with the ability to communicate pertinent data to the cloud for better patient and healthcare outcomes is their near-term goal.  Aug 2017

A member is trying to locate a contract manufacturing facility (ideally based in Ireland or alternatively the UK) with fermentation capability.

The facility would ideally be able to ferment 80-90grams of E-coli cells/litre (wet weight) using IPTG to induce the E-coli cells; minimum volume of 300 litres.

Proposed start date: January 2018. Duration of contract – initially for one year.  Jul 2017

We are looking for a piece of equipment used in labs to split samples for testing. It is called a Rotary Riffler.

We would hope a lab with one of these pieces of equipment would allow us to use their Riffler as we would like to try one before we purchase.  Jul 2017

A global software development house is building a team to develop virtual reality and augmented reality concepts for industrial applications.  They are now looking to speak with any IRDG members who are interesting in partnering in the provision of these technologies for industry.

They would particularly be interested to hear about relevant pilot cases from members which could be developed for demonstration.  Jun 2017

A member with very significant R&D activity and investment is seeking to explore the potential and practicalities of the TRIZ approach for creative problem solving.  We are interested in recommendations for the best presenters on the subject to do an internal seminar on the approach and practical real-world examples of its execution.

Who have people used?  Do any members have their own internal specialists that would be interested in sharing their experiences?  Apr 2017

We want to add automated conformal coating capability to our SMT (surface mount technology) production line and are seeking recommendations for potential suppliers/distributors based in Ireland, UK or Western Europe.

We would be most grateful if anyone within the IRDG network might have any suggestions or contacts that could help us with this query.  Mar 2017

A global leader in contract manufacturing services with expertise in automation engineering for all sectors, would like to partner with a technical institution or company that is in late stage development/commercialisation of a disruptive manufacturing innovation which would have significant productivity benefits to those that have expertise. Interested in discussions from all sectors including but not exclusively medical device, industrial, energy, consumer & food.  Feb 2017

We are conducting a review of our sampling and analysis procedures, and are hoping we might be able to utilise the IRDG network to assist us.

The products we are sampling are both powders and solids.  We would like to identify the best practice approach around sampling methods, distribution of samples, and composite samples. We are looking to achieve a balance between high reliability and statistical significance/robustness of the analysis results, and the practical aspects of work, time and investment involved.

We would greatly appreciate any contributions the members may have, either from personal experience or by way of putting us in touch with recommended people who might be able to advise us (either from academia or industry).  Jan 2017

We are developing a strategy to implement DevOps methodology.  We have been looking across departments at what this involves for us.  We are at the stage of beginning to put this strategy into action and, to that end, we would be very interested to know whether there are other IRDG members who are practising DevOps methodology and who might be willing to talk to us.  Jan 2017

One of the areas where we as a company continually try to improve, is in how we communicate internally with our people.  During 2017, we see the opportunity to further innovate, whether in the processes followed, technologies used etc.

We are very keen to understand whether any IRDG companies have introduced new techniques, technologies, methodologies or processes to improve how their companies communicate internally, and the impact of these innovations in terms of the timeliness & relevance of the material and effectiveness of the messages communicated.

Internal communication happens at many levels in our business:

  • Company-wide communication, within Ireland and internationally;
  • Department specific communication;
  • Communication within teams;

We would really like to learn about any innovations in “internal communication” in other companies across various industry sectors.   Jan 2017

Members Question Time – 2016

Our member seeks recommendations of contract extrusion moulding companies who could supply them in the region of 2,000 PVC tubes per day, on an ongoing basis.

The suppliers would ideally be based in Ireland, but they are open to recommendations.   Dec 2016

We are seeking information from IRDG members regarding the measurement of R&D activities within their organisation, including the models used to measure value so as to assist informed decision making on such activity.

Our interest is to understand how companies measure value (assuming revenues may be subjective for future periods and perhaps not the only measure of value) and how investment costs and returns are reflected in their business models.

We would be very interested to discuss further and receive any information other members may have on the topic.  Dec 2016

We are seeking a supplier that can co-design and source/build 8 futuristic-looking and high quality sensor enclosures (approx. 150x80x40mm) and a central command module (approx. 300x300x50).  They would need to be delivered in a 3 to 4 week window once the contract to supply has been agreed.  The units are needed for customer demos of futuristic sensor technology which will be embedded within the sensor.  We can supply the electronics; we are just seeking enclosure design and quality. Whilst we have in-house capability both in terms of machining and 3D printing, we need these to be of much higher quality.  Do you have any contacts or recommendations of people or companies who could assist in this area within these timelines?  Nov 2016

We are currently looking for a gel manufacturer who is FDA/GMP approved in order to export a product to America.  The product could be manufactured either here in Ireland or overseas if necessary, and we will handle the distribution.  We would intend this to be a long term contract.

(Projected volumes in the region 1,170,000 applicators a year with individual production batches of approx. 130,000 applicators. With 5 g tubes this comes to about 6000 Kg a year with individual orders of 650 Kg batches).

We would be most grateful if anyone within the IRDG network might have any suggestions or contacts that could help us with this query.  Aug 2016

We are a group of companies located multi-nationally operating primarily in the manufacturing sector. We are in the process of looking to move from current IT providers, with whom we have outgrown, to a provider that can support multi-site, multi-region operations. We are looking for recommendations of providers that you could recommend?  Jul 2016

We would like to get feedback and advice from companies who have undertaken the Lean Plus and/or Lean Transform programme in association with Enterprise Ireland as we are considering undertaking this journey. If any individual / company would be willing to have a conversation with us on this, we would appreciate if they would put themselves forward.  Jul 2016

We are a group of 8 diverse companies which are primarily in the manufacturing sector. We are in the process of scoping an ERP system and are looking for a list of potential packages. The system will have to have multi-lingual and multi-site capabilities.

I would appreciate the names of any packages that you can recommend, and any advice from the experience of implementations and / or use of same.  Jun 2016

We are looking to either dry/evaporate or freeze dry approx. 1.5 tonnes of a high moisture vegetable to generate the powdered material, ideally stopping at a 10% moisture content, but this is open to discussion. This would be a one-off requirement for the moment and we are not too concerned with the method of generating the powder once it does not change the constituent elements of the vegetable. Any help is very much appreciated, either from vendors directly or contacts of people who may be able to help. We also need to do it in the next 4 weeks!  Jun 2016

We are looking for people with expertise in writing white papers that might be interested in coming to our company to give a lecture on the topic.

May 2016

We are looking to source a company which could supply or hire to us an industrial oven, electrically powered. The oven would have to be capable of housing 4 to 8 200kg drums.

We would appreciate any suggestions or feedback the members may have.  May 2016

To improve our production efficiency, we are investigating the installation of an automated IBC (Intermediate Bulk container) filling system for liquid chemicals.

If any members have such systems in place can they recommend companies which supply and install this type of system.  Apr 2016

We are looking for an engineering/fabrication company that have expertise it constructing large steel process equipment. We have detailed drawings and designs of the equipment and require a company that can construct the equipment based off the designs provided. The equipment is quite large; there is approx. 500 tonnes of steel in the equipment so we would need a company whom are capable of handling this type of large scale industrial fabrication.  Apr 2016

An IRDG member manufacturing company, a subsidiary of a foreign-owned corporation, is looking for recommendations of consultant(s) to facilitate the development of a strategic plan by the local Irish entity.

Can you recommend any consultants / agencies who could meet this need?  Mar 2016

We are looking for recommendations of a tool which will translate from Arabic to English to Arabic to embed in our software product – would be grateful for any experience / suggestions?

Feb 2016

Automated liquid precision / liquid handling in a biomedical environment:

We are looking for a company or an individual with experience (direct or indirect) in automated liquid handling/sampling to work with us on an exciting new project. The opportunity is specifically related to blood, which when spun using a centrifuge, separates into a variety of constituent parts. We want to be able to extract the blood plasma (the amount of which varies from sample to sample) and distribute relatively accurate amounts into 5 small containers, which will have been pre-filled with another liquid type. These bottles will then be sealed, labelled and made ready for the operator to remove from the machine. There is currently an NDA in place with the client but we can share more information with you if you make your interest known.  Jan 2016

We are looking for expertise in specialist ink formulation & printing (pad and/or ink jet) technology.  We want to develop and apply a pattern to a medical device.  The pattern would be less than 10mm wide with three distinct colour areas.  The pigments/inks would need to be FDA approvable for a FDA Class II medical device which is autoclaved.

Do you know any consultants or companies that might be suitable to work on the development?  Jan 2016

Members Question Time – 2015

Would any member know of a contract powder packaging facility that would be able to repack food ingredient powders into a foil pack packaging with appropriate high standard sealing of same?  Volumes involved would be 100kgs – 2T.  This work will be required to be conducted for a period of 12 to 24 months as the member develops this side of the business.  Nov 2015

An IRDG member company needs to crush/mill a trial batch of approx. 5 tonnes of CaO (calcium oxide) and package into bulk bags for shipping. The material is currently in approximately 50mm size lumps that need to be reduced to 10mm or less. Cross-contamination with other materials needs to be avoided. It is possible that more than one batch will need to be processed.

Do you know of any company / facility that could do this on a contract basis? It would be preferable to conduct this activity in Ireland, but if really necessary the company can travel overseas.

Any recommendations or pointers would be greatly appreciated.  Sept 2015

We are an SME food company who have no experience in conducting innovation research amongst our employees.

We would like to hear about how other companies go about generating, validating, executing and also rewarding employee ideas within their company?  Jun 2015

Our company is facing a restructuring project in order to be best in class.  This fortunately will not involve a reduction in headcount.  We are a multinational firm, operating in a B2B environment.

We need to organise ourselves in a more dynamic way to be able to respond to additional projects and the way in which Group is going.  That could mean we become a more Product-facing organisation or Group-facing one – we are open minded about that at this stage.

Devising this most appropriate new structure is the challenge.  We are therefore looking for recommendations of methodologies, tools and approaches that have been used within companies to help them to decide on a most appropriate structure for their business.

We are not looking for recommendations of consultants to assist us, rather an indication of best practices/frameworks which could help.  Any advice would be very much appreciated.  Feb 2015

We are trying to find good project management software, ideally open source and low cost, or a free solution, to assist in the implementation of Research & Innovation projects.

We are hoping to identify any products that work (or fail) over the market leaders, such as Microsoft Project and impressive programmes like Smart Sheet.

Any advice on low cost or free to use products that offer a good user interface and easy to update/modify with changes (rather than just excel) would be very much appreciated.  Jan 2015

Members Question Time – 2014

Our company would like to conduct occasional surveys of our customers, gathering data from them via surveys distributed by email or online forms to which they login.  We could have anything from 200 – 1000 customers to contact depending upon the topic at the time.

We use Salesforce as our CRM system, the most basic package.

We seek the members help in identifying suitable tools to gather together this information but also enable it to be mapped into each customer’s account in Salesforce so we don’t have to manually do it.  We are a relatively small business and don’t have a significant budget to spend so any advice, contacts or help would be appreciated.  Nov 2014

We are currently looking to develop/introduce a topical skin care product for consumer use. We have access to a particular formula but need some expertise in product formulation which will ultimately lead to a manufacturing/supply opportunity if the product goes to market.

Can you put out an enquiry through the network as we need to identify a person or organization with this following expertise:

“Formulator who specialises in the formulation of topical products for problem skin; in particular problems caused by the overproduction of oil (sebum), irregular shedding of dead skin cells, resulting in irritation of the skin’s hair follicles and or the build-up of bacteria”.

The solution here may be either a company or person.  The type of expertise most relevant would be someone / company who has worked in the cosmetics industry or the pharma sector in the area of problem skincare products, primarily skin creams lotions.  Oct 2014

We are looking to introduce a chemical tracking system and wonder if any of the other members could recommend a system that they are currently using.

It should have the following features:

  • Be able to track all chemicals from delivery to the site, moving from lab to lab (and even down to which cabinet it is in), and finally to disposal.
  • We should also be able to track the owner of the chemical, and these can change as chemicals are shared across the site.
  • While we accept that it may have to be manually entered at the start, all subsequent interactions with the system must be as easy as possible (e.g. using barcode & scanner).
  • The interface should be web based, so no client software need be installed & maintained.
  • The chemical entry should include SDS or link to SDS.
  • The option of including/attaching a chemical risk assessment would be a bonus.
  • The option to include segregation rules would be a bonus.
    (e.g. cabinet X is labelled for non-flammable chemicals only, so chemical A, which is flammable, cannot be allocated to that cabinet)
  • We would want certain fixed reports to be set up initially. These could include i) expired chemicals ii) usage of certain chemicals, etc.
  • The option to create ad hoc reports would be a bonus.

Oct 2014

Just wondering if any of the members would know of a pilot scale evaporator (1000 – 2000L) available anywhere? Ideally would like access before the end of this month, for a one off event.

We would be grateful for any information or referrals which could help us.  Aug 2014

We currently import a cosmetic product from Asia which involves a long lead time from order to delivery and also a number of different SKUs. We see significant opportunity for this product in our various markets and are now in the process of designing and developing a more innovative packaging container come applicator for the product. We have sourced the bulk manufacturer of the material (which is in powder/micro fibre form) but would prefer to do the final pack off/fill here in Ireland. We are looking for a company with dry fill capability into containers and pack off line. The facility needs to meet GMP requirements as set down on the EU Cosmetics Directive 1223/2009.

We would be grateful for any information or referrals which could help us.  Jun 2014

We have produced an industrial chemical which is in a solid wax form. The product is currently in a cylinder shape, each cylinder weighing approximately 450g. We would like to know if there are equipment or companies which could transform these wax cylinders into a pellet form (4-5mm). Ideally, we would like to package the pellets in a thermoplastic bag for end user convenience.

We would be grateful for any information or referrals which could help to resolve the issue.  May 2014

An IRDG member company, operating in the healthcare area, is seeking to engage with a contract engineering company that has plastics as a strong part of their offering.

Do you know of any companies who could meet this need?   Apr 2014

An IRDG member company has just recently completed the development of an Innovation Strategy.  They are now seeking recommendations of Innovation Consultancy Companies who can help them turn that Strategy into a Programme which will then be implemented across their company.

Please recommend any Innovation consultancy companies for providing advisory, facilitation and/or training services with supporting theory and practical experience for all aspects of planning, establishing, embedding, managing and improving an Innovation Management capability in an organisation.  Feb 2014