Market globalization, increased regulatory requirements, more educated consumers, and today’s cultural demand for immediate results and satisfaction are fueling the whirlwind pace of breakthrough innovation in the medical device manufacturing industry.
To stay competitive, OEMs are facing increased pressure to develop and commercialize high quality, differentiated products faster and more efficiently. To do this, OEMs are exploring more creative approaches to how they innovate.
To learn more about successful ESI implementation, key questions to ask a supplier during the evaluation process and details on Parker’s ESI model, download the white paper "How ESI is Helping Move New Medical Device Product to Market Quicker & More Cost-Efficiently".
Enter Early Supplier Involvement
To strengthen their competitive position and help design, develop and launch new products more effectively, medical device manufacturers are turning to the product development strategy referred to as Early Supplier Involvement (ESI). ESI is defined as the vertical collaboration between supply chain partners in which the manufacturer involves the supplier at the earliest stages of the new product development process.
ESI is not a new concept, having been employed successfully in 20th Century manufacturing, notably with Japanese automakers. Rather, it is a continually evolving strategy uniquely deployed with each individual product. The commonality, when successfully implemented, is the rapid launch of a cost-effective, innovative product at a justifiable price, with high-quality standards and reliability offered to the customer. In today’s fast-paced Life Sciences markets, these attributes are paramount to success. The design and launch of innovative medical devices — with their broad range of components and sub-systems — offers the ideal setting for the successful application of ESI strategy.
Successful ESI - choosing the right supplier
Efficient, successful ESI program implementation depends on selecting the right supplier. A manufacturer should seek a supplier with the following general attributes:
- Cultural compatibility - a supplier with a track record for collaboration, flexibility and responsiveness can translate into a trusting and committed partnership. Look for a supplier with a well-known reputation and philosophy synergistic with the manufacturer.
- Effective communication processes - new product development processes can be time-consuming enough. If communication challenges stand in the way, the process will take longer and realizing the market opportunity will be put at risk.
- Capacity and ability to ramp up development activities quickly - the supplier’s market expertise, prototyping capabilities and dedicated resources, coupled with available capacity need to be understood by the manufacturer. They should be ample and readily available to be deployed as part of the manufacturer’s project.
The benefit of supplier familiarity
It makes sense to look to the existing supplier base for potential ESI partners. The familiarity a manufacturer has with its partner will contribute to the reduction of risk. In the selection process, familiarity can clarify supplier profiles that may otherwise seem consistent in the areas of technical capability and resource. The relationship with the supplier is an intangible attribute that can mean the difference between a successful and failed partnership and product launch. Careful consideration must be given to the ability of the two organizations to work together in pursuit of a common goal.
Supplier capabilities, capacity and dedication
The breadth of supplier capabilities should be thoroughly understood and meet the needs of the project. As it is much more efficient to coordinate efforts with one supplier than with several, identifying the supplier with the broadest technical and application expertise is beneficial.
Knowledge of open and available capacity on the part of the supplier is integral to keeping the new product development process on track. This is particularly important in the early stages of a project where delays can have residual effects on the rest of the process resulting in being late to the market.
The manufacturer should expect the supplier to identify one program manager for the project. This person would be responsible for the supplier’s performance against their commitments as well as managing the manufacturer’s expectations. It is critically important that the program manager for the supplier is trusted, credible and able to speak openly with the manufacturer’s team.
ESI partner profile
Some suppliers have developed a systematic approach to ESI implementation. Parker Hannifin, for example, employs a six-pillar model to ESI that focuses on ensuring the success of its manufacturing partners’ new product development success:
This strategy identifies key attributes of ESI in each stage of new product development as well as Parker’s specific role. For a medical device manufacturer looking for an ESI partner, this defined approach will help to assure an efficient process and adherence to the scope of the project. It will help identify pitfalls before they occur and, ultimately, lead to the launch of a successful new medical device.
Savvy OEMs understand the benefits of treating key suppliers which possess a strategic vision more like partners than vendors. When it comes to successfully introducing medical devices, you have to be smarter, faster and more economical to stay ahead of the competition. A well-implemented and managed ESI program can make that all possible.
Download the white paper "How ESI is Helping Move New Medical Device Product to Market Quicker & More Cost-Efficiently" to learn more about successful ESI implementation, key questions to ask a supplier during the evaluation process and details on Parker’s ESI model.
This article was contributed by the Healthcare and Life Science business development team.