By Tom Paquin
Manufacturers across the board are waking up to the potential of servitizing previously product-oriented businesses, building out their book of business with service and outcomes-based solutions. For manufacturers who build and sell medical devices, the opportunity is certainly just as apparent. While some customers expect systems and assets to work as expected, medical workers often require uninterrupted utilization in order to keep their patients safe and meet the unique day-to-day challenges that they face. Issues need to be resolved quickly, and service technicians need to work around the diverse, and often inconsistent needs of the business. Getting this right is a daunting task, but one that certainly pays dividends. It starts with a smart approach to technology, and a solution-oriented mindset.
For many medical device companies considering how service technology fits into their business, they naturally assume that custom implementations will ultimately be required in order to meet the demands of a complex and bespoke type of manufacturer. The truth is, though, that smart service management software is designed to be configured to the contours of your business, rather than requiring the time and complexities that come along with customization.
To get this right, it’s important to focus on the right set of capabilities for your business. There are invariably a huge variety that are worth considering, but based on what we’ve seen, there are some common challenges that can be remedied with powerful solutions. I like to pick elements from each stage of the service lifecycle to frame some key capabilities around. To do so, let’s look at these four:
Connected Assets: IoT-enabled capabilities have come a long way from emerging technology, especially in med devices, and the ability to proactively resolve issues before they arise is paramount to the successful operation of many businesses. For example, when it comes to centrifuges for clinical labwork, connectivity to internal systems is the difference between samples aging on a shelf or being actioned effectively. Knowing the status of systems proactively can make sure that organizations are always working at full capacity.
Service-Level Agreement Compliance: Making sure that you’re meeting SLA expectations for medical device manufacturers can be a life-or-death situation in many cases. For that reason, it’s imperative that when service arises, that any SLA requirements are immediately triggered in order to ensure that you’re meeting any contractual outcomes, resolution targets, and privacy requirements through scheduling, delivery, reverse logistics, and invoicing. Getting this right means building your systems around service—not bolting service on to an abstract set of applications. SLA compliance can be tricky when integrating customers into a new service system, but getting it right at the beginning, and building in triggers that inform and enhance all of your service systems, can make a huge difference in the quality of your service interactions.
Optimized Appointments and Planning: In light of the fact that you’ll need to manage and mitigate service issues as quickly and effectively as possible, getting service optimization right is the first and most important step. A good optimization engine combines scheduling capabilities with parts management and technician management to ensure that all elements are working in tandem. Best-in-class optimization goes way beyond one-day scheduling, too, building in the capabilities for simulations, as well as the ability to build multi-time horizon planning to manage demand, headcount, scheduling, and parts allocation by day, week, month, and beyond.
Consumable Management: Medical device manufacturers have a unique relationship with consumable management, and doing it right requires that many of the previously-cited capabilities be in sync with expectations of the business. Especially when dealing with hazardous materials, managing removal and disposal is, for many organizations, a need-to-have. To do this correctly, comprehensive reverse logistics can be the silver bullet. Best-in-class systems help you mange not just routing and depot repairs, but sunsetting of all materials that your service workers come into contact with.
There are obviously a wide arrange of additional considerations for medical device manufacturers to keep in mind when mapping out their service plans, but these are some of the issues that we see come up repeatedly. Getting service right for medical device manufacturers often requires more careful planning, but when it’s in place, it can make a huge difference.