Oct 28, 2013

Onshoring manufacturing

Medical devices are largely designed in the United States and while the US has a decent size medical device manufacturing industry, it has been significantly moved offshore the last twenty or so years. The offshoring I've been part of hasn't worked out nearly as well as the executives planning the move has hoped with the offshore sites running into labor or quality problems that took years to work through. Two articles have recently caught my attention on companies starting to inshore production.

The NY Times published an article which covers the negatives of out sourcing and companies who have shifted manufacturing to the United States:

Time was foremost among them. The Indian mill needed too much time — three to five months — to perfect its designs, send samples, schedule production, ship the fabric to the United States and get it through customs. Mr. Winthrop was hesitant to predict demand that far in advance.
There were also communication issues. Mr. Winthrop would send the Indian factory so-called tech packs that detailed exactly what kind of fabric he wanted and what variations he would allow. But even with photos and drawings, the roll-to-roll variance was big. And he couldn’t afford to fly to India regularly, or hire someone to monitor production there.
He also found that suppliers deferred to his wishes, rather than being frank about some of his choices, which weren’t, he conceded, always good ones.
These negatives match my observations and aren't easily solvable. Additionally, Atomic Delights details how Apple makes the Mac Pro in the United States:
What makes Apple fascinating is not that they are using some wiz-bang alien technologies to make things - even here in Portland, Oregon, all the technologies Apple shows in this video are in-practice across numerous local factories. What makes Apple unique is that they perform their manufacturing with remarkable precision and on a scale that is simply astonishing, using techniques typically reserved for the aerospace or medical device industries.
Usually a company undergoes an expensive clean up the line activity (clarifying documentation, improving equipment, etc.) before offshoring, then still runs into the problems. I think if companies spent more of the money they spend on offshoring on improving production processes then they could be just as profitable in the US.


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Danielle Solich said...


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pc said...

I am not sure a company like Apple is a good example, most of their devices are manufactured in China. In Spain we do not have that problem, we do not have medical device indsutry

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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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Dannie said...

Good post.. Outsourcing is not an easy task always. We manufacture wound care products and being in a medical industry, what I personally think is even though there are certain difficulties to overcome we must make sure we give quality products on time..

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James Falasco said...


I really enjoy reading blog posts on health issues. There is however one huge story that hasn't been fully covered. Namely the quality of the implant parts. Yes people go overseas for cheaper procedures and yes there are increasing amounts of lawsuits every day. The new hot follow up topic though is quality of implant parts of all types including mesh material.

Many people undergo implant procedures every year but how many of them know that the implants they are getting were most likely never run through any type of quality control. Yes I was shocked to learn that while there is legislation to cover everything from toxic spills to banned words over the airways the FDA 510 -(K) process medical implant device manufacturers are mandated by only requires "best practices" be followed in the quality control of parts. What does that mean exactly? Seems it means that the manufactures would rather set up lawsuit reserves to pay out on the thousands of claims that are floating through our courts today and that really is all people want to write about. I think there is a real story here and it isn't the lawsuit aspect but the story on the quality of the parts themselves - or the lack! I think a follow-up article on your site that looks into the area of quality and what could be done to improve it would go along way in accomplishing a higher patient safety record. I’d be happy to provide additional details if you want to pursue this path.

GPC Medical Ltd. said...

Very well written post. Liked the facts that you have mentioned in it about outsourcing.

I totally agree that outsourcing is not an easy task. But still most of the big brands outsource their work because of the rising demands of their products/services and lack of production capacity.

As far as outsourcing of medical equipment and supplies are concerned, there are few good companies in India that produce best quality medical equipment as per customer's demands and fulfill their requirements on time. GPC Medical Limited is one of best company in India that engaged in manufacturing, exporting and supplying of medical, surgical and hospital equipment. GPC medical equipment are highly recommended and appreciated by importers of all over the world. Read more at: http://gpcmedicalequipment.wordpress.com/


TheDrs Toy Store said...

Great post here. Outsourcing can be something that will not help the economy. Finding Doctor Equipment with a company within your country is best.

vijay lotus said...

Nice post,

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WPamplify said...

Slowly but surely manufacturing is moving back to the United States. I think more companies are discovering the long-term costs of outsourcing and are bringing it back to America. It is also helping to create much-needed jobs.

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Medical Supplies said...

Great Post!
There are advantages and disadvantages of "Onshoring manufacturing". But, minimized operation costs and maximized revenue are always the primary objectives.

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Great post, really needed to be said for a long time now.

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