How to Select Your Pilot Study Resource

How do you know if you need a pilot study? If you do need a pilot study, how can you ensure it will be effective?

Pilot studies are often used to validate or optimize a treatment process or technology and can provide the data needed for process design or state regulatory approval. Because all water sources are different and respond differently to treatment, design should begin with a complete water analysis.  At times, a water analysis alone may not provide enough information to move forward with a final design. In these scenarios, a pilot study becomes essential.

Some questions that should  be considered when selecting pilot resources:

  • Can the pilot study and protocol be customized to meet specific client needs?
  • Is there enough engineering value that would remain valid under the inquiry of regulators or an outside consultant?
  • Is the pilot resource experienced, dependable and known for providing sound advice?

With pilots that advertise as “simple and quick” it’s often unlikely that you will be able to move quickly to a comprehensive design following the test. These types of pilots can create more uncertainty due to missing or limited information. Intentional and customized protocols along with input from experienced system manufacturers can aid the design team in moving toward a final process design.

Once you have selected your pilot resource, you have the option to run the pilot yourself and record your own data or task the pilot supplier with operating your pilot on your behalf and cataloging the findings. Operating the pilot study within your organization may allow you to customize based on your requirements and may provide some cost savings. Utilizing a turnkey pilot operation can provide piece of mind as the pilot resource is the sole source for equipment, operation, data capture and analysis. These factors should be considered as you decide how you would like your pilot implemented.

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