Automation in the Medical Industry
The medical device industry impacts every aspect of our daily lives. It covers a massive range of different products from handheld surgical implements to pregnancy tests to pacemaker implants. According to WHO estimates, there are 2 million unique medical devices currently on the market, falling into 7,000 unique categories. Altogether, it represents a $456 million dollar industry, expected to grow to $745 million by 2030.
Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a rapidly aging global population, has illustrated the need for fast, efficient medical assembly. In an economy driven by lean manufacturing, the ability to quickly produce large volumes of precision medical products can be lifesaving. Fortunately, modern automation is sufficiently advanced to meet the needs of medical product assembly, including conforming to government regulation.
The Amazing Benefits of Assembly Automation
Particularly for Class II and Class III medical devices, extremely high degrees of precision and sterility are required. Production errors could be indirectly or directly life-threatening, and manufacturers need to be confident in their medical equipment and automation systems. OEMs like +Vantage offer a comprehensive selection of turnkey solutions designed to ensure complete control over assembly processes from beginning to end.
Fully- and Semi-Automatic Medical Equipment Assembly
For highly complex devices such as computed tomography (CT) machines or ventilators, medical manufacturers must be able to meet exact specifications every time. Automated systems and robotic assembly solutions can provide that consistency, delivering high-quality precision parts at speed.
This is especially true for processes including torquing, press-fitting, and joining. For heavy, rapidly-moving machinery like an MRI, every bolt must be properly torqued to deliver a safe, functional machine. +Vantage machines utilize on-machine metrology to track even the smallest variation and can be programmed to carry out pre-load cycles to ensure a stable connection.
Additionally, for smaller-volume products, or applications that require asynchronous production, +Vantage also provides semi-automatic workstations. These provide the precision of fully automatic systems with assistance from operators to complete processes, as well as offering testing and metrology solutions. For assemblies where some steps are more efficient to complete manually, semi-automatic assembly provides powerful support to the industry.
Detailed Part and Product Inspection
Naturally, medical assembly automation requires advanced metrology solutions to support production. For small, high-volume components such as ligation clips or prosthetic pieces, non-contact visual systems provide 100% inspection. Depending on the complexity of the piece and the needs of the application, 2D and 3D systems are available, capable of identifying out-of-spec pieces for automatic removal.
Medical equipment assembly also requires delivering products capable of safely handling a variety of fluids. Products like catheters, respiratory breathing tubes, microfluidic chips, and medical one-way check valves all must pass different safety requirements before going to the end user. For these vital products, +Vantage offers automated leak testing equipment to check for material integrity at a variety of precisions.
Finally, real-time SPC and data tracking allow manufacturers to maintain a second-by-second overview of production. A record of every part that moves across the plant floor allows potential issues to be addressed before a catastrophic failure can occur, making customers safer, and enhancing production efficiency. This process control is what brings automation in the medical industry from a helpful tool to an absolute necessity.
High-Speed Marking for Accurate Tracing
The FDA imposes stringent requirements on medical devices, requiring serialization and tracking on parts where failure could have life threatening consequences. In the event of a defect, physicians, hospitals, and vendors need to be able to know where a product or component came from, so others who may be affected can be alerted.
To answer that need, +Vantage provides laser and part-marking equipment for production lines. FIS and traceability require all parts to be marked and scannable, and our machines deliver solutions for high-volume applications. We don’t just ensure safety for consumers either, but also our manufacturers. +Vantage has an in-house, accredited safety officer, and every laser system we ship will come with its own FDA Accession report, demonstrating full federal compliance.
Automate with Us!
Want to learn how +Vantage can benefit your precision assembly application? Download our +Vantage Quick Guide to discover our full range of capabilities! To learn more about our integration process, and the vast array of automation services we offer, visit our website. To discuss how our systems can benefit your custom process, contact us to speak with an engineering design consultant today!