Mike - I'm a mechanical/electrical/software engineer with 39 years of experience, and you apparently have missed the raison d'être of the Pi: delivering as much computing power at as low a cost as possible for educational purposes, period. Any other successful uses are purely coincidental and a happy byproduct of the Foundation's efforts. You're attempting to take advantage of its low cost and yet demanding personalized service you're not willing to pay for, which you might recognize as violating the laws of thermodynamics, i.e., not only is there no free lunch, but you can't break even in The Big Scheme of Things. What I would suggest is that you try to find out who is already using the Zero successfully in industrial environments ... oh, wait, no one is because it's only been available in extremely limited quantities (much of them glued to the cover of a hobbyist/educational magazine) for a grand total of six weeks.
In the spirit of the Foundation's official _charitable_educational_ mission, what I would suggest is that you work with other industrial developers to verify the Zero's actual performance for the attributes you're interested in, and then donate the results to the public domain. Participants can share in the cost (some, if not all, might even be able to perform various parts of the testing in-house) and then write it off as a charitable donation if there's an advantage to doing that vs. writing it off as a business expense. The reason you might want to do that is that you can get a lot of positive PR value by making it clear that you're supporting the Foundation's educational efforts (they really need to run a "Pi Inside" logo contest) by helping expand the market for its tools (they're _not_ products as they're a non-profit) and thereby further reducing per-unit cost across a larger number of units produced and sold.
If you're not already aware, most of what has made the Pi successful has been on the backs of volunteers who also happen to be world-class experts in their domains who make plenty of money in their day jobs. Even the pioneer of the Pi concept, Eben Upton, is a volunteer with a very difficult and demanding day job as software architect for Broadcom's GPU technologies. You might want to keep that in mind before playing bull-in-the-China-shop demanding answers to questions no one may be getting paid to determine. This is coming from someone who's occasionally succumbed to that mode, and who knows how to do your kind of job, so I feel your pain.
Do not underestimate the power of the Pi brand - what the Foundation has done on a shoestring budget is nothing short of amazing, and they're continuing to rewrite the "rules" for SBCs. The fact that it's benefitting not only schoolchildren, but adults who need to transition to new careers is to be applauded as loudly and widely as possible. Perhaps your organization could be a charter member of a Pi Industrial Association that performs/supports other services beyond the physical performance testing/verification function.
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close!
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!