Bosch harnesses automotive manufacturing skills for MedTech

Every innovation starts with an idea. And from that idea, the journey can take many paths, from the concept through to the product development and going to market.

This is a journey that Bosch, as a company with a rich history of innovative manufacturing, knows too well. Ever since the company’s innovative founder, Robert Bosch, developed the world’s first magneto ignition device at his workshop in Germany, the company has been repeatedly breaking milestones with game-changing products.

After decades of being a leader in precision engineering and manufacturing, particularly in the automotive component sector, in 2013 Bosch decided to share its experience in these sectors with customers outside of the Bosch Group.

Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions (BAMS) – which was established in Australia five years ago to support Bosch’s Australian manufacturing – has been partnering with a number of Australian manufacturers to help them navigate the landscape of manufacturing design and automation.

MedTech is one of the key industries in Australia that BAMS supports. Based in Clayton in Victoria, the BAMS team of engineers and consultants has to date helped a number of reputed MedTech manufacturers take their ideas to the market, supporting them every step of the way from product design to manufacturing and process automation.

Bradley Trewin, BAMS’ National Sales and Development Manager, says Bosch’s expertise in robotics and automation, production line systems and lean manufacturing practices come together when supporting its clients.

“Bosch is first and foremost a global manufacturer. Our team’s expertise comes not only from designing and building machines for the Bosch manufacturing division, but also from years of working within the operations and maintenance part of Bosch’s business and understanding what it actually takes to maintain and keep the machines running,” Bradley says. “This means we can put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and support them not just in the design of the equipment but doing this with an understanding of the manufacturing challenges.”

But how does Bosch’s expertise in manufacturing automotive parts relate to the MedTech industry?

“The truth is that there are more similarities between manufacturing automotive components and medical devices than one might think,” says Bradley. “Both industries deal with high volume production. Both industries deal with very similar materials and manufacturing processes. Both industries also require very high manufacturing quality and precision. In fact, automotive system manufacturers expect components that have zero failures per million devices, also known as zero ppm. Our Medtech clients often have to meet similar standards of quality.”

As a team, Bradley says the consultations and services that BAMS offers depends on the maturity level of its clients, as well as the specific requirements of each project.

“Some of our clients are experienced manufacturers with well-established product designs. They often come to us to seek advice around automation design or to introduce lean manufacturing principles in their manufacturing lines. We then work with them to come up with the best line concept; not just from a product design or automation design point of view, but as a complete production line concept. And then we work with them to get the new lines designed, installed and ready for use.

“On the other end of the scale are start-up MedTech companies. These clients often speak to us about their concepts and then we support them through every step of the product’s design and manufacturing,” he explains.

An important aspect of a product’s design, according to Bradley, is to predict the challenges of mass producing the product right at the design stage, to avoid more costs down the line.

“When working with our clients, we use our understanding of the manufacturing and automation challenges to ensure that the product’s design not only fits the feature requirements of the end user, but also that it is easy to manufacture. This is a very important step. If that work is not done in the design phase and if the automation concepts are ignored during product design, it can lead to huge cost or quality implications when implementing the automation,” Bradley says.

A number of experienced MedTech manufacturers in Australia already rely on the expertise of the BAMS team to improve their equipment design.

“We take pride in the fact that many of the experienced MedTech manufacturers, with very strong in-house manufacturing capabilities, come to us repeatedly to seek advice on building more automation across their manufacturing line or to improve their products. That tells us that we are doing something right and that we’ve been able to build that trust with our partners that we can deliver what they are looking for,” he concludes.