The recent pandemic has influenced all the market niches. However, there is no doubt that the strongest impact the current situation has made on the medical world. Among the issues caused by the pandemic, one of the major ones was the problem of disrupted supply chains. Another demand is common to the majority of industries. The medicine isn’t an exception. This demand is the one for automation.
Medical devices automation relies on many aspects. One of the main aspects is reliable and safe parts. All the components of a device shall be safe, reliable, highly precise. They can work for ages without the need for maintenance or replacement. For example, here are given the main features of actuators that can be used for medical purposes.
Advantages of Automated Medical Devices
Automated medical equipment is able to provide more accurate and consistent results than people. Let us have a look at just a couple of examples:
- Medical preparations manufacturing – a properly setup machine works non-stop for hours. The devices have multiple sensors, cameras, etc. They can detect any changes instantly and are even able to automatically adjust the system;
- Any parameter might be changed by a simple change in the settings of the device;
- An automated facility can scale up the production to mass volumes. The investments are needed but they pay off very fast;
- The wastes can be reduced significantly. The efficiency boosts.
These are just the main benefits of medical devices automation, and only from the economic point of view. Now, let`s have a look at what exactly can be automated.
Automation Trends and Forecasts
Robots in medicine are still applied in a different way than in other industries. Their application is very specific. For example, robots are used in pharmaceutics, or for performing minimally invasive intrusions. To automate the entire field, one needs big investments and effort. Therefore, it is frequently observed that when a new company enters the market, it introduces new equipment. Of course, this equipment is automated.
Now, the following trends are observed, and they will be ongoing ones:
- Robotic manufacturing lines: robots can deliver the consistency of quality and flexibility. To accommodate the manufacturing of new products, robots shall be just reconfigured. It reduces the costs needed to launch the manufacturing of new products and saves a lot of time.
- The volumes of production can be increased asap when the demand is growing.
- One more industry-specific feature is the need for special aseptic rooms. Before entering an aseptic room, people pass a thorough cleaning procedure. While robots would stay in this cleanroom. Thus, the risks to bring pollutants there. Thus, the automation of processes in cleanrooms allows reducing costs and the need for maintenance.
- When it comes to the packaging of devices, robots can be applied widely. They can increase the speed of work, and their reconfiguration in the case, when needed, doesn’t require a lot of work or approvals.
- With automation, safety in the workplace is boosted. Robots can be used to lift loads, carry weights, handle hazardous substances, etc.
Thus, the medicine can benefit from robots already at the manufacturing stage. Add other benefits that come with robots in patient care, and you will see that robots are an indispensable part of our lives even when it comes to medicine.
The Internet and Automation
The internet, IoT and cloud-based solutions, in particular, play an important role in the automation of medical devices manufacturing. They are crucial when it comes to big corporations that have facilities in different locations. The data can be interchanged efficiently and accurately among the devices and thus, guarantee consistency in all the facilities.
The IoT allows devices to communicate with each other. It is used to adjust to any changes in any procedure and to achieve the needed compliance with the existing regulations and standards. In the same way, updates about regulation changes are communicated to the facilities. The internet and the cloud-based solutions allow eliminating the issues of compliance and consistency among plants located in different cities or even countries.
While many processes in medical devices manufacturing are already automated, we still can say that all the innovations are still just being implemented. Medical manufacturing is a very demanding field connected with a lot of regulations and restrictions. Thus, the implementation of something new there is rather an expensive and demanding process.
That’s why in most cases, we see new companies coming with automated facilities and processes. The same applies to huge corporations where automation is a matter of increasing the manufacturing efficiency and supplying products to satisfy the increasing customer demand. While smaller companies are still on their way to automation.
Even though automation in medical manufacturing is still connected with some issues, its benefits are evident even to the most sceptical critics. Yes, automation is connected with significant initial investment. But it is difficult to imagine the future of manufacturing in medicine with the application of just human labour.