The Demands of the Medical Equipment Market
Medical equipment manufacturing is an active and evolving market, driven by medical advances through the years. During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the requirements for specific equipment is rapidly increasing. Ventilators are seeing the biggest demand – with the virus targeting airways & lungs, and causing pneumonia, severe and critical cases require positive breathing assistance. Drägerwerk (one of the largest suppliers of ventilators worldwide) had been asked by the German government to supply 10,000 units in 2020, and that number is doubled from worldwide requests.
The increase is so large that ventilator designs had been released to companies in other markets with suitable manufacturing capabilities. In the UK for instance, the Ventilator Challenge UK has seen the design of a number of existing ventilator machines from Penlon and Smiths Group released to partnerships for assembly. The demand for the component parts has also escalated. These are much harder to manufacture elsewhere, replace or redesign for alternatives, as there is no time to perform full retest activity to confirm the suitability and quality.
Are Harwin products in this market?
Many different Harwin products have already been designed into numerous ventilators, contactless thermometers, monitoring systems, ultrasounds, and many other essential medical electronics from a range of manufacturers. The wide choice of components used reflects the complexity and multiple use cases for these pieces of vital equipment.
Field hospitals have opened up in many cities throughout the world. Transportation of patients using a ventilator is crucial – from paramedics responding to another admittance, to transfer between hospital facilities. The ventilator must work faultlessly in situations and environments more demanding than the stable, sterile fixed hospital environment.
Our high reliability rugged connector range is a key component in several of these ventilators. Datamate is designed to handle vibration, shock and bump – ensuring key signals continue uninterrupted. Mix-Tek and L-Tek designs are providing high-performance connections in a compact format. The connectors are used in multiple ventilator designs, on sub-systems from internal electronics to alarm harnesses.
Many medical electronics are destined for a more stable environment, the most common being sitting at a patient’s bedside. The emphasis is still on quality components to ensure continued signals over time, but more cost-effective connections are justified. Multiple in-box connections are required, either from control systems to display systems or across multiple PCBs.
The Archer IDC range (1.27 mm pitch cable-to-board) is used in ventilator systems from different manufacturers to connect multiple signal sources inside each module. The design provides excellent quality of connection with fast production assembly.
Another manufacturer uses the M40 pin header and sockets for board-to-board connection at 1mm pitch. The connection is used inside a smaller ventilation device. This system is used both in hospitals and at home, enabling patients to be sent home sooner when appropriate, freeing up space for more incoming cases.
Medical monitors and equipment operate in an environment flooded with transmission signals, whether out in an ambulance or in a hospital. Even mobile phones are no longer banned from many hospitals. Some equipment, such as point-of-care ultrasound machines, generate their own signals from which the rest of the equipment needs to be shielded.
With electromagnetic interference (EMI) a real risk to medical equipment operation, internal shielding of critical PCB functions is essential. To meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements, board-level shielding is important within all products.
By using our removable clip-in shield design, production methods are easier and faster to complete. There is no secondary soldering and no risk of heat damage due to localized hot spots. Rework and maintenance are made possible, with shielding cans simple to pull off and clip back in place.
Other medical devices, such as contactless temperature measurement devices, use single sockets for internal connections in handheld devices. These sockets provide essential board-to-board connections within more compact equipment, and provide good vibration resistance for continuous signal transmission.
Even simple nickel-plated spacers are in demand from medical equipment manufacturers. Every component from the Harwin range is suitable for design into a modern medical device or equipment system.
How has Harwin responded?
Appeals for more components have been received from all over the globe. Manufacturing supply chains are becoming stretched as the demand for these products must be prioritized during the crisis. Medical customers need more than they’ve ever ordered, and they need it much faster than normal quoted manufacturing lead-times. Most on-stock components have already been snatched up.
Harwin are committed to do whatever they can to assist in the current climate. The advantages of being a vertically integrated manufacturer are becoming clear. We maintain healthy stocks of the raw materials required and work closely with our local supply chains to continue the material supply. Many of the processes involved in converting the raw material to a connector are under our direct control. Our Planning department has been working hard to coordinate and prioritize, temporarily slashing lead-times for many products.
We can offer local manufacturing for our European partners, and a global distribution network working towards the same goals. We have already fulfilled multiple appeals for product, and many others are already lined up for production as this article is being written.
Want to talk to someone?
If you are a manufacturer of medical equipment trying to respond to the latest demand, and need our help in meeting your production levels, tell us. We want to help you make a difference with your medical products.