Engineering Center For Medical Customers

PM interviews Steve Lesnewich, from Doosan Infracore, about the company's new Medical Engineering Center.

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 Production Machining received its invitation to attend the grand opening of Doosan Infracore’s Medical Engineering Center December 9 and 10, 2008, in Memphis. As the medical manufacturing segment is increasingly important to precision parts manufacturers, PM was curious about the company’s decision and plans for this new center. To that end, we contacted Steve Lesnewich, president/COO, to get the story on this new venture for Doosan.

PM: Steve, what is the genesis of Doosan’s Medical Engineering Center in Memphis?

SL: It’s our intention to use this center as a central clearing house to support customers involved in the medical industry. Providing the resources in one location helps consolidate resources and disseminate innovative processes and practices.

PM: You chose Memphis as your location. Is the center planned as a regional center or something more comprehensive?

SL: Our decision to locate in Memphis reflects the city’s global status as a hub for orthopedic device manufacturing. While Warsaw, Indiana, is considered the nation’s top center for orthopedic device manufacturing, its location is relatively difficult to reach by air. Memphis is considered the second most active center for medical device manufacturing with companies such as Smith & Nephew, Wright Medical Group and Sandvik Medical as well as many other smaller companies that support them located here. Moreover, our location near the Memphis International Airport makes us accessible to domestic and international customers alike.

PM: Do you see this concept as scalable to other industries and locations?

SL: Yes, in fact, we have established other centers like this. Since manufacturing in the U.S. is generally geographically based, we have a new facility located in Houston for oil and power generation. The grand opening will be in April. We have already opened an engineering center in L.A. for access to the aerospace industry and (at least for the moment) Detroit for automotive and automation. We view Memphis as a geographic center for medical manufacturing.

PM: How do you see this center functioning for the kinds of services that will be available?

SL: It’s our plan to provide services from simple machine tool selection for manufacturing practices to full-blown validation processes for medical manufacturing. Increasingly, machine tool builders are being tapped by customers to provide more than iron to help manufacturers efficiently compete in medical and other industries. An center like ours is a means to help us differentiate ourselves in a crowded market by delivering expertise in process prove-out, product development, machine tool advisement and good manufacturing practices. Sure, we want to sell machines, but our long-term viability rests heavily on the value-added proposition we can bring to the customer’s successful production of its application.

PM: Who will have access to these services? Is there a fee attached?

SL: While we give priority to our customers, the medical engineering center is open to any manufacturing environment. It’s a “high tide raises all boats” strategy. The more successful U.S. manufacturers of medical devices are, the more successful we will be. As for fees, David Nelms, who manages this center, will base them on the level of engineering required for specific services needed.

PM: The medical manufacturing segment is a fairly broad topic. Are there aspects of medical engineering that the center will focus on?

SL: Our expertise is cutting metal of all kinds and shapes using experience that encompasses tooling, programming and fixturing that make the machine tool perform efficiently and profitably for the shop. In the medical engineering center, we will focus mainly on orthopedic parts—specifically implants and instrumentation. We will also provide product and process expertise for spinal and dental implants as well as their instrumentation. When a company comes to the center with a prototype for a new device it wants to machine, our employees help select a machining process and walk them through the steps necessary to manufacture the part. We also provide the compliance information to qualify the parts for FDA and other regulatory standards.

PM: This center seems poised to provide a good value-add service for existing and potential customers. Do you see other builders possibly duplicating this idea?

SL: Most definitely!

PM: Thanks, Steve, and good luck. 

To contact Doosan Infracor’s Medical Engineering Center, call (901) 362-5192.