When faced with a medical crisis, the speed with which medical equipment can be produced potentially becomes a life-or-death issue. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic is simultaneously causing enormous disruption to supply chains and daily operations for medical device suppliers and manufacturers. That slows everything down and, in extreme cases, can even grind manufacturing to a halt. How can anyone anywhere get components and parts for medical equipment built quickly when the coronavirus is wreaking havoc everywhere?
To start, expand capacity by wrapping in manufacturers who don’t normally work in healthcare production. For example, auto manufacturers are beginning to build ventilators. However, it’s challenging – to say the least – to completely shift production to a new and unfamiliar product. For that reason, manufacturers who already build components for medical equipment will be better positioned to accelerate production.
Leverage 3D printing capabilities.
As The Wall Street Journal puts it, 3D printing is stepping up in the coronavirus crisis. 3D printing offers a means to manufacture goods quickly, at scale, and with a low material cost. Suppliers with in-house 3D printing capabilities are a step ahead in terms of supporting the fast production of medical equipment.
Diversify supply chains.
The vast majority of manufacturers run their supply chains through China; with the disruptions in Chinese production due to the coronavirus, it’s causing supply chain difficulties that are rippling outwards globally. The companies that will be able to manage the greatest speed are those that already have alternative supply chains options, i.e. running supply chains through Europe or other parts of the world.
Build medically safe products.
Speed should never come at the expense of safety. Thankfully, both are possible. An easily overlooked aspect of medical device manufacturing is whether or not the machines and its components produced will be maximally safe to use. For example, do the enclosure materials and surface treatments of the input devices help prevent the transmission of germs? At minimum, medical equipment should be easy to sanitize quickly without risk of damage to the machine; ideally, it will incorporate antimicrobial treatments that diminish the risk of transmission with no effort at all.
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Critical components for high-quality medical equipment is a specialty at Hoffmann + Krippner. For more information about Hoffmann + Krippner’s COVID-19 preparations and our production capabilities, read our most recent statement and follow news as it updates here. For more information or for answers to specific questions, contact us here.
Technical wordsmith and guest blogger for Hoffmann + Krippner.