Emerging from a year of living with a health crisis, the medical contract manufacturing business is booming with demand for increased production, both to compensate for supply chain interruption and to satisfy need for new technologies for less invasive surgeries and vaccine distribution. Market research indicates records growth by 2026 with forecasts predicting $76 billion in revenues.
The merger of electronics with the medical manufacturing industry to create more sophisticated equipment has spiked the production of electronics. These intricate parts are more easily managed via outsourcing to contract manufacturers to simplify assembly of medical equipment containing many intricate parts. Most of the recent sector growth can be attributed to increase in demand for electronics to manufacture more affordable equipment.
To manage this exponential growth, more manufacturers are upgrading their inventory software to a tool capable of integrating their in-house inventory with outsourced production. Should they provide raw materials to that contractor, they can track shipments to and from that contractor.
Like food, medical devices are one the most highly regulated industries, demanding careful attention to manufacturing conditions, tracking, reporting, and proving compliance. Under these stringent circumstances, production houses that are already set up to meet these standards are more capable of meeting demands at reasonable costs as they already possess the equipment and training to do so. Designing, engineering and prototype development require specialized skills that a contract manufacturer can more readily provide that a manufacturer of less regulated equipment.
How Has Covid-19 Shaped the Medical Manufacturing Industry?
The first and most obvious outcome was supply chain disruption. When manufacturers awaited components from overseas and production came to a standstill, it was obvious businesses needed backup plans in place. Communication is already a challenge when a supplier’s culture and time zone vary so greatly.
An important part of the development process is the testing phase and with medical facilities closed or offering limited access. They are necessary for pre-trial and post-market testing which strict regulations demand they undergo. At a time when medical equipment is in great demand, production is inevitably slowed by holdups from many sources. Manufacturers have found it easier to update existing designs than begin new ones, due to the length of time from design to production when accommodating all regulation requirements.
The shortages created by increased demand in all medical facilities has driven up current production demand and demonstrated the need for greater emergency supply availability. During the lockdown, patients failed to make appointments for care. As facilities opened back up and the population felt more comfortable in public places, the demand for medical equipment surged.
Moving forward, more people are aware of the need for crisis readiness at every level, from the federal and state supplies of emergency equipment to the hospitals that faced shortages when their emergency rooms were flooded. More orders are anticipated, and more medical facilities will likely stock up to prevent future shortages in the event of another health crisis. Add that to a growing elderly population and medical device equipment demand promises to increase for years to come.
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