The process outlined below gives us an idea as to what is involved in the design and manufacturing of surgical instruments.
1. Design: Where samples are drawn by hand or on a computer. This process may require the consultation of surgeons, nurses, decontamination leads, engineers, techs, craftsmen, distributors and/or sales people.
2. Prototype: This is a 3D model of the item created by hand or computer. This process can take anywhere between a few hours, to a few months depending on the requirements.
3. Raw material selection: The identification and sourcing of the correct raw material for the devices specific application is crucial. Even though there are many variants of stainless steels manufactured, approximately a dozen out of these are useful in making surgical instruments.
Stainless steel is the name given to a family of steels which contain more that 11% Chromium. The chromium in the steel gives it the properties of being “Corrosion Resistant” and “self repairing”. The chromium reacts with oxygen and forms a “passive” layer, which serves as the protective barrier against corrosion. If a stainless steel instrument receives proper maintenance, the instrument will become more corrosion resistant over time and have a longer life.
Specific stainless steels are used in the manufacture of particular instruments as they are chosen for their specific performance data, often critical to their application. The different factors to consider in the manufacturing of surgical instruments are its application, hardness, flexibility, tensile strength and malleability.
Austenitic stainless steel is characterised by its high ductility (i.e. its ability to stretch thin when tensile strength is applied, or bend using compressive force) and non-magnetic properties.
Martensitic stainless steel is characterised by its high strength, brittleness and magnetic properties. The hardness of steel is determined by a steels carbon content. Some steels can be hardened to a particular degree, and some simply cannot be hardened at all.
The stainless steels typically used in class I medical devices such as surgical instruments are - Austenitic: 303, 304, 316, Martensitic: 420.
The manufacturing process has its own set of parameters, and each parameter may rely on each customers requirements. The secret behind affordable-reliable instrumentation lies in the careful selection of raw materials and then the level of effort invested in finishing. It typically takes 20% of the time to make 80% of the instrument, but 80% of the time to finish the other 20% (Pareto's principle).
The combination of the rising price of steel and the level of effort put into finishing an instrument is therefore reflected in its cost. Finding the perfect balance between cost and quality takes many years of experience and advice from our customers.
If instruments were seen as an investment, they would last a lifetime. When instruments are looked at as a commodity, then some of the risks associated with poorly finished instrumentation such as contamination could be eradicated.
Good quality, well finished instrumentation would overall reduce costs, for example less risk of infection / cross contamination, quicker patient recovery times, and reduce bed occupancy levels.
The world of surgical instruments and sterilisation baskets, how complicated can it be? A lot of time and effort have been put into our business, such as the following:
Over the years, I have seen people come to us firstly as a one stop shop for knowledge, then for supply of their requirements. It's great to talk to people - and engaging with them in such a dynamical way is only possible due to the years of experience under our roof.
Being able to visualise what someone is talking about is a valuable skill. Passing on information to those who visit our site in a clear and concise way, requires deep knowledge of the product. Ultimately, our visitors are presented with all the information, however a phone call may be what they need so we can earn their trust.
It is well known that after Tuttlingen-Germany, Sialkot-Pakistan is the biggest manufacturer of surgical instruments and sterilisation baskets in the world.
Some of the most important factors in dealing with manufacturers are also trust and credibility.
Industry best practice is exactly that, and ensuring our suppliers adopt and follow these is not as simple as asking to see their latest certificate of conformity. Visiting suppliers is a key part of this relationship so we can monitor the manufacturing process, and tweak aspects of it where need be. A healthy relationship requires a lot of face to face interaction.
Our success relies on our customers having a clear picture of product availability. We have an accurate idea of whats in stock at any one given time, resulting in our customers orders being fulfilled in a timely manner.
As a family run business, we are more than happy to talk with you on the phone, via email, or even in person. Our doors are always open for you to get in touch or visit us.
No matter how much money we earn - it will never be enough. When we reach our goal, then what?
I wanted to focus on a goal which would see me working towards something far more rewarding, helping others.
A meeting with a group called Unleashing Potential unfolded and below are extracts from our conversation:
A mobile clinic project was discussed, the need for surgical instruments, medical equipment, sanitary supplies and medicine was apparent.
We can help in two ways:
1) donate stock to this project
2) set up a consultancy agreement whereby a sales consultant would donate a percentage of their margin to this charitable cause. Thereafter, a percentage of every invoice we gain through that consultant will be donated to this charitable cause.