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medical fasteners are a critical component during medical procedures such as this scene in an operating theatre

Quality medical fasteners are a critical component in the health sector, and can be found in everything from surgical lasers, MRI scanners, ventilators and even items such as implantable pacemakers.

These life-saving devices are manufactured to the highest possible standards. A failure of one of these machines is not only costly from a financial point of view but could cause danger to human life.

For this reason, it is necessary to ensure accurate and reliable performance from medical equipment.

However, the high demand for the materials and parts used throughout medical devices can add constraints to the supply chain.

This is an increasingly efficient industry which has worked hard to become leaner over the years, but this leaves a variety of weaknesses in a supply chain when facing global crises, the likes of which we are seeing in COVID-19.

To overcome these weaknesses organisations from alternative industries, including our own company, have prepared to assist in smoothing the operational efficiencies of a constrained supply chain by offering resources to scale manufacturing to fluctuating demand.

Fasteners in the medical industry

Medical engineering poses a unique challenge for manufacturers. The parts need to withstand very particular scenarios.

For implants or artificial joints, for example, the parts need to withstand millions of fluctuating load cycles without a chance for retightening. In other medical machinery, key concerns can range from reliability to avoiding interference with the actual machinery operations.

This is a field where second chances are often, quite simply, not an option. There is rarely a good or acceptable time for one of these machines to break or malfunction.

Medical tools and instruments necessarily require dependable performance. This is especially true for surgical equipment or life support equipment such as ventilators.

An adaptable supply chain

Across the global medical supply chain pressure has continued to mount over the years to reduce inventory cost.

What this means for manufacturers and distributors is maintaining less and less inventory at any one time. Instead, keeping between a 15 to 60-day reserve depending on how quick the product is to move.

Thin margins mean its impractical to keep any more materials, parts, or products stocked at any one time.

Some hospitals have adopted a similar approach, a “just-in-time” practice which allows them to spread out the cost of supplies and reduce unnecessary expenditure.

This just-in-time approach relies on remarkable co-ordination, but it can also mean that a hospital is replenishing supplies worryingly last minute, sometimes with as little as 24 hours worth of supplies left.

The result of this lean supply chain has created inflexible conditions which, when stressed, can fall apart fast.

The current global pandemic has demanded increases in production, however, with the current structure of the supply chain geared towards operational efficiency, scaling up this production of necessary life-saving medical equipment is slow.

Supplying High-Quality Medical Fasteners During COVID-19

We have talked numerous times about the need for supply chains to be adaptable and flexible in the face of crises as well as outlined tactics and methods for supply chains to achieve greater flexibility alongside their increased efficiencies.

For the medical industry though, a broken supply chain doesn’t just mean lost revenue because of halting production, rather it means an unnecessary loss of life.

As increasing strain is placed on the medical supply chain from the increasing demand for life-saving equipment during this unprecedented global crises, it is equally important to remember that this is an industry where a drop in manufacturing quality could easily lead to loss of life as well.

This is why JPAero is ready to meet this heightened global demand with its speciality high-tech aerospace-grade fasteners.

Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

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