The Benefits of Being More Strategic in Instrument Set Building

During your most recent product launch, when did your team focus in on set building? Early on, sometime in the middle, or quite late in the planning process?

Set building, of course, is the process of creating the instrument sets needed by surgeons to perform surgery. Many OEMs focus intensely on the inbound supply chain, manufacturing, sterilization, packaging, and distribution of their implants, because it is the implant itself that will drive sales. When it comes to building sets to support these sales, though, they can miss an opportunity to be truly strategic. This is true for new product launches or when deploying assets to new accounts.

Highly complex coordination

Instrument sets can be highly complex, with dozens of instruments sourced from multiple vendors. When multiple vendors are involved, inbound supply chain complexity increases significantly. Consider that these instruments will arrive at different times, and they have to be assembled into complete sets to be shipped out to the field or to specific surgeons.

What happens when one instrument arrives today, one is due in tomorrow, and another will not be here for three months? How do you manage to create a realistic assembly schedule, let alone one that will support a product ready to be launched to the field? And does your ERP system support partial building of sets? Delays and unknowns in the inbound supply chain can push back product launch dates and increase the time before an OEM can realize the investment it has made in new product development.

Large scale, small scale

When bringing new implants to market, OEMs might be faced with the challenge of building hundreds of sets to ensure product is available to support surgeries. Launches are not the only cases where set building plays a key role, though. When OEMs bring on a new account, they must factor set building into this process. The new account might only need three or four sets. Because of the small number needed, it may be difficult for the firm to prioritize the resources necessary for set building. Inventory needed for those sets may be used for other needs, causing delays that may even threaten this new relationship.

Keys to set building success

Truly successful product launches ensure that every member of the supply chain between OEM and patient has what is needed to get to market. That includes building instrumentation sets on the same timeline as the product itself.

Therefore, the keys to success in set building are resource coordination and planning. And optimal resource allocation often means finding an expert partner to strategically manage your set building process, scaling up and down as needed and freeing your team to focus on your firm’s core business.

At Millstone, we manage inbound supply chain complexity in several ways. We track bills of material and prepopulate sets so that they are ready when the final instrument arrives. This approach is especially effective when there will be a significant gap in arrival times between components. Our physical infrastructure and quality processes ensure the necessary space and staffing to make all kits 100% ready for the surgical suite.

We are able to provide scale for our clients as they meet product launch dates and then scale down (or up) as necessary to support demand in the field. For clients bringing on a new account, we are able to allocate resources to ensure priority for set building and then sustain as dictated by customer needs.

Key questions

As you are considering your product launches and firm growth, consider these key questions in planning and resourcing your set building:

  • Do you have the internal resources necessary to meet your product launch date while also meeting your core business needs?
  • Do delays in your inbound supply chain create forecasting difficulty?
  • Are “crunch times” for set building distracting staff that could be better focused elsewhere?

For many OEMs, the cost of outsourcing set building is offset by the opportunity it unlocks. Reducing complexity in resource coordination and planning frees your team to focus on your core business—and can position you to meet your commitments and launch timelines with more predictability and greater ease.

At Millstone, we get it. We believe quality drives patient success. That’s why we’ve perfected all the capabilities medical device manufacturers need to get to market. Today we offer post-manufacturing and aftermarket services to more than 50 customers, including some of the top 10 orthopedic companies in the world. We are constantly evolving our processes and services to help OEMs achieve sustainable success. We offer clean room packaging, medical device specific warehousing, finished goods distribution, loaner kit management, advanced inspection and reverse logistics services—all with an unparalleled focus on quality.

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