Technology at the sharp end of medical device manufacturing
May 16, 2023 - Reading time 4-6 minutes
The medical device manufacturing industry is always at the forefront of innovation and technology, given that it provides advanced solutions to doctors and patients to meet healthcare needs. At the same time, this industry also faces many of the challenges associated with modern industries – rising costs, shortage of staff, and other such factors.
Given the above, the medical devices industry constantly needs innovation and transformation to deliver products that meet the healthcare goals of doctors and patients. At the same time, since this is a heavily regulated industry, integrating product innovations may sometimes take a lot of work.
However, to truly transform the medical devices manufacturing industry, digitalization is critical and must be integrated with the manufacturing processes. This will lead to more efficiency and better outcomes for doctors and patients. Let’s take a quick look at some of the trends driving the incorporation of innovation in the medical device manufacturing industry.
To begin with, and in these days of supply chain crisis, employing AI in deciding accurate and precise demand is the need of the hour. AI has been much spoken about in the healthcare industry, and here, as we look to create efficient manufacturing processes, it can play a crucial role. With enormous customer data regarding orders, product configuration asks, etc., AI will be used for determining precise demands, thereby helping in better inventory controls and planning. This will also smoothen the process for supply chain partners.
IoT and predictive analytics
Secondly, the Industrial Internet of Things will truly revolutionize medical device manufacturing. Given the many intelligent devices, effectively capturing, storing, and analyzing generated data will be needed to arrive at valuable and meaningful trends. This is not all. There are provisions to display statistical process monitoring reports to understand trends of crucial operations. This helps to take proactive actions, thereby minimizing manual efforts and maintaining process optimization.
Another exciting concept is the digital twin, which can provide a digital replica of a physical manufacturing facility. Digital twins offer real-time reporting to support informed, risk-based assessments and data-driven decision-making to improve operations and mitigate risks while allowing for more agile processes without compromising quality. This is a great way to validate and verify outcomes before building a physical manufacturing site. This also dramatically helps manufacturing and inventory supply planning, significantly improving efficiency.
Today’s technology is all about integrating standalone processes. In the concept of a factory, being “connected” means a factory that uses digital technologies to bring together people and machines, thereby leading to better quality, productivity, and, ultimately, more profitability. Connected factories, by their very nature, allow for controlled, perfected, and responsive operations. This enables real-time monitoring across the entire factory with the availability of real-time data to drive actionable insights and analytics.
Healthcare systems are a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. By some counts, for industrialized nations, that figure is close to 10 percent of national emissions, ahead of the shipping and aviation industries. While that is a source of worry, the good news is that a lot can be done to reduce the medical devices industry’s carbon footprints by using technology. A great way to start would be to enable virtual tours for a live factory experience incorporating hardware and software aspects. 3D mapping allows users to profile objects in three dimensions, providing the latest technical methods for visualization and information acquisition. Other steps would be to develop in-house competencies to reduce travel to supplier sites and use AR and VR for enhanced and real-time training.
The above trends are gaining prominence in the medical device manufacturing industry. Technology doesn’t stop evolving, and as tomorrow brings breakthroughs, healthcare manufacturing leaders will have to look at ways to incorporate innovations into the manufacturing process to meet the healthcare goals of individuals and society.
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