Signs of strength in the medical device industry

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February 25, 2016

Elizabeth Modic

Editor | emodic@gie.net

It’s a presidential election year, so combing through headlines to find any positive news is challenging. Both sides of the aisle are trying their best to spin the news in their favor. You have Republicans saying the economy is in turmoil, pointing fingers at the current administration. Democrats are walking a tight rope, promoting the positives that have occurred in the last 7+ years while acknowledging there’s room for change, improvements, or a slightly “different” approach. Then again, there’s always room for improvement somewhere, in something.

As I looked into the strength of the medical device manufacturing industry, this, too, was overshadowed by doom and gloom, and glory for only a select few. Headlines claim that manufacturing is struggling, cutting-tool consumption is down, and machine tools sales are off. Then, on the “other side of the aisle” headlines scream how the aerospace and automotive manufacture sectors continue to grow at some of the strongest paces since pre-Great Recession levels. This is true, since our sister publications, Aerospace Manufacturing and Design and Today’s Motor Vehicles, continue to report on the strength of these sectors. The medical device sector is strong, and all indications are that it’s staying that way. While some parts of manufacturing struggle, with just a little digging through headlines, I could find a lot of good news about the medical device sector. It’s not struggling.

Each year medical device regulatory consultant firm Emergo produces a Global Medical Device Industry Outlook. This year’s report notes that, “while economic conditions in Europe, Brazil, Japan, and China remain uncertain, the medical device sector showed resilience in 2015, with firms generally optimistic about their prospects for 2016. In terms of economic and regulatory conditions, 2015 was no cakewalk in terms of performance for medical device firms, but more than 80% of the respondents are expecting improved outlooks in 2016, both for themselves and the industry as a whole.”

Additional key takeaways from Emergo’s study:

  • North American firms were more optimistic about their prospects for 2016 than European and Asian counterparts – highlighting the strength of the U.S. economy
  • 7% of survey respondents reported sales decreases, down from 19% in 2014
  • 72% indicated that North America had average-to-high growth potential for medical device sales for the next 5 years, only overshadowed by 80% of respondents saying they felt Asia had growth potential

Manufacturing still faces challenges. One is the need for educating and developing the next generation of skilled workers – a key reason AMT – The Association For Manufacturing has partnered with us in the #WhyMFG campaign (www.WhyMFG.com). Another is reducing healthcare costs, which is putting pressure on delivering products at lower price points or innovating products that allow better patient outcomes.

The medical device industry must continue to innovate – all industries must if they want to grow and thrive. So, there’s no better time to take a close look at your manufacturing operations, equipment, and processes; determine where you need to upgrade, improve, or change; and then chart your course for growth now and well into the future. What are your plans to innovate and thrive? ~ Elizabeth