One of the most often overlooked supply lines in the world is not for fuel, electricity, or food. It’s for the healthcare industry. Medical device manufacturing is critical to a modern society where medical care is expected. As the current world continues to experience the ripples of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical device manufacturing is more critical than ever before.
Yet today, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, supply lines are faltering. Most manufacturing and supply lines operate on a thin margin, whether making raw materials, ordering them, shipping them, or using them. They order just what they need, never more.
So when a manufacturer for sterile tubing, medical gauze, wheelchair padding, or a specific electronic chip for an imaging system falters, the entire supply line grinds to a halt. Add to this the trouble with logistics and long-haul truckers quitting in droves – you have a recipe for disaster.
Medical device manufacturers face substantial challenges today and will continue to do so for months, if not years to come.
Pressure Points in Medical Device Manufacturing
Medical device manufacturers are struggling under several major pressure points, each presenting unique challenges.
The entire healthcare industry works under increasingly strict regulations like quality assurance, manufacturing, sterility, and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to ensure the safety of its users. While regulations are necessary to prevent faulty devices from doing long-term damage, it’s still an overarching pressure that all device manufacturers must contend with as they operate.
As medical treatment grows more personalized and nuanced, so do the demands on medical devices. Unfortunately, the customization necessary for many of these devices means that manufacturing a supply to keep on hand and insulating against supply chain issues isn’t feasible.
At the same time, the role of the medical device manufacturer is rarely “just” manufacturing today. Instead, manufacturers are called on to maintain, repair, and troubleshoot devices they make as well. Of course, all of this must be FDA-compliant, done promptly, and done satisfactorily for patients, facilities, and providers.
Finally, the pressure dragging manufacturers down is an increasingly outdated legacy system relying on historical demand, non-digital records, and out-of-date manufacturing systems and processes that make it difficult to adapt to challenges on the fly.
How can these problems be solved?
Addressing the Problems in Medical Device Manufacturing
Every manufacturer is different, but the challenges they face echo across the entire industry. As such, dramatic changes are necessary to adapt to the mid-pandemic and post-pandemic world.
Manufacturers would do well to invest in technology upgrades. These upgrades should enhance your ability to trace and handle adverse events and customer service problems and more accurately predict demands and buffer for surges.
The pandemic has made it clear that reliance upon one or two suppliers for critical materials is no longer viable. So whether it’s a raw material, a manufactured part, or even a single logistics company, redundancy will become the name of the game to avoid these problems in the future. But, unfortunately, redundancy isn’t possible in some cases without other companies building new facilities, so there will be some delay before this can happen.
Many medical device manufacturers discover that hiring new people – and the right people – helps adjust, adapt, and improve their core businesses to become more resilient to problems. In addition, hiring the right new employees helps verify compliance, bring systems up to modern standards, boost overall productivity, and breed more innovation.
How Verum Technical Can Help
Whether your company needs skilled engineers, quality assurance personnel, skilled labor, or another role filled, look no further. At Verum Technical, we’re one of the leading recruiters for these roles and more. So as your company navigates these challenges and needs more qualified team members, contact us to add to your roster and bolster your company’s resilience in the face of supply chain adversity.