Every once in a great while I read something so well stated that I put down my book/ipad/kindle and just reflect.
So when I recently read a post from Mike Sellers on Quora, I had to share it with you. Mike was responding to the question “As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?”
Mike wrote beautifully about software companies (read his original post here).
Medical device companies manufacture their products, so you’ll find plenty of talk about manufacturing on my blog. A year ago I posted “Manufacturing Matters” about the unfortunate disconnect between product development and manufacturing. Six months before that I posted “The Dwindling Allure of Building Factories Offshore” where I tried to give some guidance about factory location decisions.
Other than news of factory closures and layoffs, or management misbehavior in Chinese factories, relatively little is written about manufacturing in the US media. A handful of publications, though, have not forgotten the importance of manufacturing to the US economy. Medical device executives would do well to pay attention to the overall manufacturing environment. So today I offer up a great collection of manufacturing articles for your year-end reading pleasure.
More than two million drug-eluting stents were sold worldwide in 2011, of which 87% were manufactured from just five product designs [source]. The success or failure of product development is ultimately measured by financial outcomes. Each of us hopes our large investments in product development will be returned many times over by the sale of millions of profitable manufactured units.
A great product design is thus the set of instructions that enables scalable, salable, profitable production.
Look around the parking lots of medical device companies, and you’ll find that most engineers drive Japanese cars. Even those who drive something else acknowledge the manufacturing prowess of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Mazda. When it comes to cars, we all know that manufacturing matters. Look inside the buildings of medical device companies though, and it’s often a different story. Most product development engineers have little understanding of the discipline of medical device manufacturing, other than a required familiarity with good manufacturing practices. It’s the rare medical device product developer who understands single-piece flow, 7 wastes, line-balancing, cell-based manufacturing, theory of constraints, poka-yoke, kanban design, kaizen events, six sigma, zero defects and the many other buzzwords/elements of lean manufacturing. It’s a real problem.
The best development engineers know that manufacturing matters, and engineers who “get” manufacturing create significantly better product designs and significantly more value. No great medical device designs make it to the end customer without being manufactured. I could even argue that medical device product development is all about manufacturing. Here’s what I mean.