2/15/2011 | 3 MINUTE READ

The New Rules for the MedTech Game

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Last Word


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You probably already know the big players in MedTech: Stryker, DePuy, Medtronic, Zimmer, Smith & Nephew. But have you heard of Synthes, GreatBatch, Medartis, Heraeus, Precimed, Medacta, Stratec, Applied Medical, Straits Orthopaedics, and Satelec? In the dental sector, Nobel Biocare and SybronEndo are well known. But there’s also Straumann, Sweden & Matrina, Thommen, BTL, Komet, Anthogyr, MIS, KLockner, Conexao and Impladent. 

All these companies (and their suppliers) are successfully using Swiss turning technology to manufacture medical and dental parts right now. And the list grows every day. With so many new businesses entering MedTech, the rules are changing fast. So what are the challenges these companies face today? 

Before we get to that question, I want to share the solution: versatility.

One thing I’m hearing frequently in the field is that companies making medical and dental parts are more focused on what their new equipment can do than they are on purchase price. My customers not only want to know if the new machine they plan to buy can make the projects they have in hand; they also want to know what else it will be able to offer their customers going forward. Versatility, it seems, is more important than ever. Versatility is at the heart of the winning strategy when it comes to turning medical and dental parts. It’s the solution to most of the challenges that MedTech companies and their contract manufacturers encounter.

In talking to MedTech customers around the world, we have found that the following factors are influencing the medical market to a great degree: globalization of markets; continuous price pressure; legislation (FDA, GMP, traceability); the rapid pace of technological change; reduced product life cycles; and the need for rapid response to customer demands.

The fact that Tornos has medical and dental customers in 34 countries across the world offers some proof that the MedTech market is now global. Our contract manufacturing customers, too, are experiencing a surge in quote requests for parts headed to overseas markets.

With this globalization comes new price pressures on MedTech suppliers. For example, medical products headed for Europe—bone screws, implants, devices—can’t command the high prices that they do in America. As a result, our customers have to make more price concessions on parts going to European markets than on those that stay in the U.S. 

Other monetary pressures are related to legislation. Implementing and adhering to a quality management system can be time-consuming and expensive, but validation protocols, training, auditing and monitoring of quality processes are SOP in today’s regulatory environment. This is especially true if you’re a preferred vendor or top-tier supplier for major medical companies. Medical components manufacturers are required by the FDA to lock down their own processes; but they must scrutinize suppliers, too, continuously monitoring conformance to ISO standards. All this non-revenue generating activity adds to the cost of every job. 

So the next challenges on the list—the rapid pace of technological change, reduced product life cycles, and the need for a rapid response to customer demands—only add to the stressors of globalization and legislation. Surgeons, doctors and their engineers are designing more complex products every day that require medical component manufacturers to change technology on a dime. How can companies absorb the costs of quality management legislation, deliver lower cost products for global markets, and do everything faster than they were yesterday, while continuously adopting the new technologies needed to make more advanced medical components? 

Again, to get ahead in MedTech today, you need to be nimble. Versatility is the key to keeping costs contained and gaining that competitive edge that helps you turn a profit.

All the most successful MedTech customers buy the best equipment, cutting tools, oil and raw material available. Their shop environments are pristine: They maintain their equipment in like-new condition to eliminate downtime variables, and they buy versatile equipment.

Want to hit global pricing targets, absorb legislation costs and deliver the goods no matter how rapid the pace of MedTech today and tomorrow? Stay ahead of the game. Think versatility. 