Partially fueled by the pandemic, medical device and component manufacturers have been procuring and installing medical automation systems in record numbers in the past few years. What’s different about these systems compared to production lines from four or five years ago, has been the growing importance of digital technology and data.
As reported by Medical Manufacturing and Machining, the rise of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) have positively impacted manufacturing. “The true benefit of Industry 4.0 is found in how that data is used — for part tracking, error reduction, or process stability — all of which play a critical role in the manufacture of medical devices and equipment.”
At the same time, medical parts are being made into smaller, more sophisticated geometries, which need to be perfect to meet stringent FDA regulations. Plus, the machines to build these parts are scrutinized by the FDA. The agency requires you to document machine parameters, including deviations on a part-by-part basis. Digital technology allows you to collect and store this data automatically.
Yes, if you’re in this industry, you know medical device manufacturers face unique challenges in terms of product mix, throughput requirements, quality standards and regulatory guidelines, said Assembly. “Whether a company is producing diagnostic equipment for cancer screening, disposable devices such as syringes, or implantable devices such as stents, the manufacturing process must be absolutely error-free while delivering high throughput,” said Assembly.
Integrating Medical Automation Systems With Digital Technology
Furthermore, this kind of high performance can’t happen without tightly integrated IT functionality. So what does this mean for the medical device company looking to reap the many benefits of automation systems? “The best way to integrate and capitalize on Industry 4.0 capabilities is to specify production equipment that is designed with the automation-IT connection in mind,” said Assembly.
What’s more, medical automation systems are replete with IoT gateways in the form of control panels that are actually small computers. These gateways can be breached by hackers, which makes them a security risk. Make sure you build in firewalls and digital “moats” to protect your systems from bad actors. You can also build secure remote access capabilities using cloud-based apps and industrial-strength VPNs.
Hire an Automation Partner that Designs and Builds Custom Systems
Finally, keep in mind that it’s also challenging to achieve higher performance goals using strictly off-the-shelf automation systems. Especially if your goals call for a complex design, which include conveyors and robots that must perform a wide range of tasks: pick, place, assemble and label.
Today’s Medical Developments magazine recommends you “Find an automation partner who can quickly and cost-effectively deliver tailored, custom solutions. Ideally, the partner can design, build, and integrate high-speed, high-volume automated equipment and systems.”
With 25 years experience designing and building medical automation equipment and systems for discerning engineers, Summit has is a trusted collaborator and custom builder for medical device companies looking for inventive solutions to challenging production problems.
Whether you’re seeking solutions for medical device assembly automation or need pharmaceutical process control, we have the engineering expertise and tools to have you up and running fast and efficiently.
Want to learn more about how medical automation systems can increase manufacturing productivity and lower operating costs? Let’s talk