The medical industry may have faced unimaginable hardships over the pandemic, but it also saw some of the most remarkable technological advances in any field. For those who have been paying attention, the past few years have ushered in a thrilling new era in medical automation. These technological strides have the potential to increase the quality of medical equipment, decrease development and treatment costs, and keep workers, patients, and manufacturers safer.
Here are the five most exciting recent advances in medical automation systems.
Medical devices are shrinking every year, to the point where certain components can now be measured in microns. Micro-manufacturing is a recent automation development that takes over the manufacturing process of small materials when they’re too small for humans to handle.
Much of this technology is still in development, but we are quickly moving towards a successful process integration model which will incorporate sensors and machine communication to create microscopic devices and components without the high pressure of macro-sized grips and suction devices.
2. Multi-channel testing
Since the start of 2022, 41 medical devices have been recalled by the FDA for damages and defects. In a world of supply chain issues and increasing medical equipment needs, manufacturers are looking to automation for better product testing. Multi-channel testing is emerging as the optimal solution.
Multi-channel testing combines core testing components into one medical automation solution. This allows manufacturers to invest in a single testing system while ensuring their products are up to FDA code. Product tests included in multi-channel systems can include assembly checks, laser processes, leak testing, and advanced vision systems to search for damages too small for the human eye to spot.
3. Storage and retrieval
The past two and a half years pushed hospitals and healthcare organizations to their breaking point—and those struggles have not disappeared. People in the healthcare system simply do not have the time or space to handle the massive amount of storage and retrieval of medical supplies and medicines.
Pharmacies were already users of medication storage and retrieval systems (or MSRs), but hospitals are now installing similar technology. MSRs use automation and robotics to retrieve programmed items from vertical storage areas at key points in the hospital layout. These automation solutions provide protection from hazardous substances, maintain required temperature conditions, and eliminate much of the risk of human error.
Since Louis Pasteur’s writings on germ theory were published in the 1800s, concerns with sanitation and sterilization have been at the forefront of modern medicine. With COVID management, it’s now become even more essential and frequent. New robotic creations, like the Xenex LightStrike robot, are quickly stepping up to new sterilization demands.
Specialized robots not only speed up the sterilization process in medical automation manufacturing, but they also decrease pathogen spread. When a robot disinfects a room, a human doesn’t need to risk contracting and passing on any pathogens. Robots are also much easier to clean post-disinfection than a healthcare professional, which decreases delays in the work process.
5. Flexible automation for low-volume manufacturing
The healthcare industry requires a fair amount of mass production, but it also remains one of the fastest-changing industries in terms of devices, models, and supply chain shifts. As a result, up until recently, many medical product manufacturers found themselves frustrated with high-tech, but inflexible automation and machinery.
New, advanced automation systems allow flexible capabilities in a single solution or robot. These systems are reprogrammable and allow operators to switch parts in and out for a variety of capabilities.
Summit Medical Automation Solutions
The future of medical automation systems is here. With so many advances, having a reliable partner who is aware of the changes and skilled at implementing them has become even more important.
Unsure where to start, you can count on our team to assist you forward. We stay on top of emerging technology in order to understand how these changes will impact the world of medical automation and shape the direction of manufacturing. You can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to go into this future alone.