Since founding her company over ten years ago, Dr. Laura Dresding had never been either so anxious or so enthusiastic about the future of Dresding Medical (DM). The company had enjoyed considerable success, both financial and in terms of market share by designing, manufacturing and supplying a range of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics throughout the USA. Starting with cardiovascular devices, their range expanded to include neurological stimulators and monitoring diagnostic devices.
‘Success has come largely from our research and development culture. Although around 50 per cent of our total manufacturing is done in-house, our core competence is an ability to understand the needs of clinicians and translate those into our products. We were among the first to expand the range and functionality of this type of equipment and integrate it with sophisticated diagnostics software. Admittedly our products tend to be relatively highly priced and we are coming under some cost pressures, but because of our technical excellence and our willingness to modify equipment to individual customer needs, we avoid too much pressure on our prices’.
DM’s operations planning and control systems had been relatively informal. A team of specialist sales technicians discussed individual clinical needs with customers and wrote a ‘product specification’ for manufacturing to work to. Around 70 per cent of all orders involved some form of customisation from standard ‘base models’. Manufacturing would normally take around three months from receiving the specification to completing assembly. This was not usually a problem for most customers; they were more interested in equipment being delivered on time rather than immediate availability. The manufacturing department was largely concerned with assembling, integrating and (most importantly) testing the equipment. Most components were made by suppliers who had been doing business with DM for some years and were...
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