What do you expect will be one significant change within medtech development and/or manufacturing as a result of the pandemic?
In response, Dr. Mark Ostwald, president of minimally invasive solutions and Europe at Freudenberg Medical, said:
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the medical device industry has seen challenging supply chain disruptions. Supply chains involving suppliers from multiple regions (i.e., Asia, Europe, and the U.S.) didn’t always cope well with this unprecedented stress test. The concept of free-flowing materials throughout the world suffered and showed its limitations. As a result, the importance of supply chain security has already and will continue to increase. In response to the elevated risks of supply chain vulnerability, companies are holding more WIP [work-in-progress] as safety buffers throughout the supply chain.
OEMs are expected to continually assess how to decrease risk in their supply chains. The focus has shifted away from just cost and lead time toward active risk management—to simplify and shorten the supply chains. This endeavor starts with improved visibility on who is actually supplying and increased transparency across the entire supply chain. Being able to rely on long-term sustainable partners is one key element to mitigate and address these concerns. It is to be expected that the focus will shift to supply partners that can offer nearshoring and “local for local” manufacturing. Suppliers with proven financial stability and a global footprint allow the OEM to model a supply chain that suits its desired risk profile best. Offering choices such as nearshoring and regional/local manufacturing will be the key to answer the supply chain challenges for efficient uninterrupted manufacturing.
In the development space, most OEMs put more emphasis on their development activities in 2020 to ensure an even stronger market position coming out of the COVID-19 crisis. To allow product development teams to continue to collaborate, the medical device industry quickly adapted to digital ways of communication and collaboration for internal as well as external information exchange. Out of necessity, the use of digital solutions such as ZOOM, TEAMS, etc. was expanded and found to work very well and efficiently.
Remote working schemes became the new norm and were quickly accepted as a legitimate way of working. Digital communication tools became essential and most companies are still surprised how efficient this new normal has proven to be. The willingness to test the limits and give new tools and solutions a shot turned out to be very successful and added a new dimension to the toolbox of cooperation and collaboration. The ease of more regular cross-functional and/or cross-locational meetings has been an unexpected positive side effect of this new working scheme with only the time zones remaining an organizational hurdle.
Virtual meetings led, in some areas, to improved and more efficient collaboration with customers, resulting, at times, in shortened project timelines (e.g., topics are being discussed as soon as they arise through virtual meetings that previously would have been discussed in-person only).
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