Over the course of my 16+ years covering the medical manufacturing supply chain, countless component suppliers have told me that they're not sure of the final application for which their part is being used. It's not something you're likely to hear from Trelleborg Sealing Solutions (Torrance, CA), unless, of course, their customer has asked them not to share any information with nosy journalists. At the Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) East event in New York City last week, Trelleborg talked up elevating the customer relationship beyond a simple transaction via its commitment to applied innovation and a total value of ownership (TVO) approach.
"We emphasize the total cost of ownership," says Jerry Zawada, Life Sciences Segment Manager. "When you buy a part, you have to look beyond the purchase price and consider the total life cycle, the potential cost of recalls, and so forth."
Trelleborg prides itself on establishing partnerships with customers and seeking a deep understanding of how the part will be used and the materials that have been specified for the finished device (and that the seals or gaskets may come into contact with) to ensure the best possible outcome. "We will even walk the production line to observe the assembly process," says Zawada. That attention to detail can highlight improvements in part design that might otherwise escape notice.
TVO is described by the company as a strategic sourcing service that leverages Trelleborg's centralized purchasing resources to consolidate vendors and reduce purchase orders. The supply chain is optimized through forecast-driven inventory management combined with value-added handling and packaging, kitting, assembly, marking, and surface treatment services. The upshot, according to the company, is a reduction in inventory and operating costs, shorter cycle times, and improved parts availability, says Trelleborg.
Tri-seal technology protects powered medical instruments
Medical device manufacturer Conmed Corp. is one company that clearly saw a technological advantage in working with Trelleborg, as evidenced by a case study it shared at MD&M East. Conmed's new Hall 50 Powered Instruments System, which includes handpieces used for orthopaedic and thoracic surgical procedures, incorporates Tri-Seal technology that Trelleborg had a hand in developing.
The Hall 50 Powered Instruments System handpiece from Conmed integrates Tri-Seal technology to prevent moisture ingress.
Enabled by Trelleborg's expertise in engineering seals and gaskets for specific applications, Tri-Seal technology imparts moisture resistance to the handpieces, making them compatible with automated washers and sanitizers. Rated to IPX6 and IPX8 water resistance, the handpieces use high-performance, low-friction seals and gaskets to protect them from water jets and submersion. Additionally, the components help reduce vibration, enabling better instrument command and minimizing fatigue during lengthy usage, says Trelleborg.
"We were looking for a reliable, responsive seal and gasket supplier, and Trelleborg Sealing Solutions fit the bill," said Jordan Turner, Senior Global Product Manager, Capital Products, CONMED, in the case study. "We share similar values and a philosophy of constantly rethinking, refining, and enhancing products in order to increase [their] reliability," he added.
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions develops and manufactures precision seals and bearings for a range of industries including aerospace and automotive in addition to the medical device sector. It operates more than 20 production facilities worldwide.