Industry Q&A: Five Questions on 2022 Trends and System Integration Services
In the perpetual quest for increased efficiency, visibility, and business performance, medtech OEMs are turning to better tools to help them master today’s market. This is especially important given the market’s rapid changes.
As we look to 2022, Millstone is sharing industry perspectives on market trends and must-knows from some of our experts. Millstone’s Marketing Manager Brittany Arnone recently talked with Khrishna Mangal, Chief Digital and Information Officer, about what he’s watching as we approach the new year. Khrishna also shared how Millstone’s expertise makes system integration refreshingly simple for most manufacturers to implement (and not nearly as hard as they think).
BA: What type of medtech firm would benefit from system integration?
KM: In short, so many firms would. OEMs and other medtech companies are under tremendous pressure from many fronts, including ongoing recovery from the pandemic and the challenges of compliance. From where I sit, though, one of the greatest pressures is the need to create more strategic inventory flow, and this can only be accomplished with a smarter approach to systems integration.
Any medical device manufacturer that’s strategically looking for a 3PL that can perform distribution, kit management, and reverse logistics capabilities would benefit from our approach to system integration. To be more specific, those firms that have the greatest potential to benefit are often small and mid-size firms. They’re growing, they’re looking for space, and the need to optimize operations as they scale is top of mind. These firms are often facing the question of whether to build space or convert a warehouse for internal processing of distribution, kit management, and reverse logistics. And this becomes a strategic decision, because they can either acquire the space and handle these processes internally, or they can devote this space to revenue production to fuel firm growth—and outsource the rest to us.
Once the decision to outsource is made, it can be a quick turnaround with Millstone, because we have mature processes and validated systems already in place. Ours is a very mature integration platform with full orchestration, so our systems can be seamlessly integrated with theirs for what often feels like immediate relief.
BA: What about the current talent crunch?
KM: The fierce competition for talent is such a huge current pressure for firms across industries—and certainly in orthopedics. We’re in this very distinct period right now where it’s simply difficult to find people to fill certain roles, and this has an effect across businesses. For many OEMs facing the effects of the talent crunch, the decision to outsource can be a huge strategic advantage.
With capacity and the right capabilities on staff, we’re able to help our customers by taking things off their plates, so they can focus on the product development, marketing, and business growth that are truly their core competencies—and leave the rest to us.
BA: What should be top of mind for any firm seriously considering system integration?
KM: First, don’t overthink it. Many OEMs think system integration is going to be too expensive, risky, and disruptive to operations. They’re worried that it will take too long. Also, many have had a negative prior experience in integration—something didn’t go right at some point.
Once we start talking methodology, results, and timeline, even the biggest firms are amazed at our process. We have a defined approach. It starts with technical system assessment and design, and then moves into business process and database mapping, master data management, and project management. In the end, we’re able to fast-track transformative system integration that brings together your ERP system and our software-validated applications and stack to deliver overarching functionality. The results include increased customer value, better product quality and business performance. Through system integration, we can also help customers speed response time, enable real-time transactions, and reduce errors, all of which can add up to a sharper competitive edge.
We’re also not sitting still on top of this defined process. We’re continually developing capabilities based on business needs for our customers as the market changes and as we move into the future together.
BA: On the cusp of 2022, what do you see as some of the emerging trends in the medtech industry?
KM: Before I joined Millstone, I spent 25 years on the customer side of the industry, so I’m always looking through the customer lens first. This helps me be continually attuned to our customers’ pain points, even as they shift.
One ongoing pain point is field inventory management—and the visibility necessary for managing it well. I see customers struggle to answer questions like, “Where are my kits in the field? Where is my inventory once I ship it to hospitals?” And this is such a huge challenge in our business, because visibility is essential for good field inventory management, but so many OEMs just don’t have it. Many OEMs need to invest in product to flood the market so they can drive revenue from surgery cases. But if they had more visibility, they would be able to see that Distributor A has a surplus, but Distributor B needs product—and they’d be able to shift inventory from one to the other to meet demand. This is such a challenge, and it’s solvable with better visibility—and it would make a huge difference for OEMs on the revenue side.
The second pressure point I see is reverse logistics. For many years, OEMs have pumped product, instruments, and kits into the field. Some has become obsolete during this time, or it can no longer be tracked. This is where reverse logistics becomes a strong strategy. With reverse logistics, companies can reduce the capital investment in building kits or instruments by reclaiming inventory, cleaning and repackaging it, and getting items back into the field. This can also help with the supply chain pressures that are really crunching so many OEMs right now.
These are solvable pressures for OEMs, and they’re major strengths for Millstone. We see success in millions of dollars in cost recoupment or cost avoidance for top global OEMs when we put reverse logistics programs into place for them.
If I look out to 2025 or so, I think robotics platforms will be major drivers of the market, and so it’s essential to start building out capabilities or tapping an expert partner now who can help with these initiatives.
BA: What else do medtech firms need to be thinking about here as the year comes to a close?
KM: I’m seeing that companies have really stabilized their operations, nearly two years after the onset of the pandemic. There have been enormous challenges in resources, supply chains, talent, and the pressure to increase business velocity to grow faster. So, it’s important to take a moment to recognize this inflection point in post-COVID recovery.
But of course, we can’t sit still for long. I mentioned the challenges of visibility in meeting demand with supply when it comes to inventory management. Another challenge is in forecasting, something that many life sciences companies struggle with. They can’t forecast with a high degree of accuracy, which means they’re either not making the products that the market needs, or they’re making too much of the wrong product and not enough of the right product. This shortage—and ultimately the demand seesaw—chokes the supply chain.
This is where integration becomes absolutely essential. If you’re able to integrate planning, operations, and sales more effectively upfront, you have a better chance of creating and producing products that match demand. And this gives you a tremendous business advantage, which is especially important in a competitive market like medtech.
Millstone’s system integration expertise helps OEMs at any level unlock efficiency, enhance functionality, and boost performance. Learn more about our defined process and reach out to get started.
At Millstone, we understand the challenges OEMs face in the robotic assisted surgery products market. We have successfully launched and supported packaging for four major orthopedic robot platforms and bring a birds-eye view of the growing robotic assisted surgery products 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.
What could we help you do better? Learn more at https://millstonemedical.com.
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