Supply Chain: The key to Optimized Medical Device Manufacturing

Supply Chain: The key to Optimized Medical Device Manufacturing

By Manufacturing Technology Insights | Thursday, October 17, 2019

Simplifying the supply chain can streamline the complex medical device manufacturing process and enhance the output economically

FREMONT, CA: Manufacturing medical devices is a complex process because of the diverse nature of the products. However, with a simpler supply chain, the intricate manufacturing process can be tamed. Typically, device manufacturers and supply chain partners are continually looking for leveraging stable, scalable, economic, and efficient manufacturing strategies.  Furthermore, every device manufacturer is aware of insurer reimbursement, which always has a downward trajectory. Thus, manufacturers have to deal with the constant pressure of making efficient products with a streamlined process. 

A materials supplier with in-house R&D capabilities and custom formulation services can assist an original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) in seeing products in a fresh light. On the other hand, OEMs are always eager to find converters which can offer multiple capabilities owing to the simplicity it presents from a regulatory standpoint and minimal supply chain confusion. To be on the safer side, OEMs are opting for dual sourcing arrangements, requiring at least one back-up supplier for every aspect of production which gives them a competitive advantage over other OEMs.

There are some interesting advances within the manufacturing supply base to enhance productivity and cost-efficiency. As an instance, the latest polymer extrusion equipment is capable of producing thinner materials which results in overall consumption of fewer chemicals and inputs for the device. Also, leading medical converters are adopting laser cutting technology which optimizes the manufacturing process with low waste in the form of debris and dust. Additionally, innovation in flexographic and inkless printing is assisting OEMs and their converters to print with greater flexibility and less waste.

The low-key consequence of manufacturing optimization is greater environmental sustainability. As the manufacturing process requires fewer components, less must be consumed and disposed of. However, greater environmental sustainability is one side of the coin. Device makers are always watchful of substances that are deemed harmful to human health or the environment. Most likely in 10 years, the material device makers use today will be unacceptable, and therefore, they have to stay ahead of the curve and be ready with alternative solutions. The European Union (EU) REACH regulations are refreshed twice every year with an updated list of “substances of very high concern.” If a chemical is deemed harmful, then the EU encourages manufacturers to seek alternatives actively.    

OEMs must ensure that they have a reliable material and component supplier. A dual-source supply is one of the best practices and in turn, material suppliers should have dual-sourcing procurement practices in place with their raw material supply base. Medical device manufacturing is witnessing a continuous increase in momentum as OEMs are keeping track with patient and healthcare provider expectation and market forces. To deliver high-performance products and innovations to improve patient care, device makers and their supply chain partners have to work together to overcome the challenges and find new opportunities.

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