A Look at Parts Management for Medical Device Companies

The MedTech industry is undergoing a tremendous transformation and medical device field service organizations are feeling the stress. Equipment is becoming more sophisticated, regulations are constantly changing, and the market is growing more competitive with each passing year. Because of this, medical device manufacturers are under pressure like never before to reduce costs and increase profitability. In fact, 63% of medical field service execs report they are feeling the pinch of tighter cost pressures impacting their organization (WBR 2019).

What’s one of the biggest challenges in achieving profitability?

One of the biggest hindrances to achieving that elusive profit increase is an organization’s incorrect parts orders. According to Aberdeen Group, 25% of parts orders are wasted because the service engineer can’t determine exactly which parts are needed.

When it comes to ordering the correct part, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Ordering the correct part the first time is not only critical to minimizing service costs, but it also plays a role in increasing customer satisfaction and retention, as well as optimizing service profitability.

Let’s face it: incorrect part orders cost a company, perhaps nowhere more so than in medical device manufacturing. Not only do they guarantee a follow-up visit and longer equipment downtime, but the parts used in medical equipment are often very complex and highly specialized, which means they are very expensive as well. If a medical field service organization wishes to be a profit center, it must get its incorrect parts orders under control.

Correct Parts Orders are Easier Said Than Done

Medical service engineers rarely have access to a reliable method for identifying and ordering correct parts when they’re on-site with a customer due to the lack of access to relevant information. Many companies struggle with disparate data. Important technical information is often locked up in corporate silos and scattered across several different departments. It’s not unusual for parts lists, exploded diagrams, parts images and price lists for equipment to all reside in separate departments within a single organization.

Even if a company provides parts information for its engineers, there is no guarantee that it will make them more efficient and accurate. Engineers often work in locations that offer little to no connectivity, or perhaps their organization doesn’t provide mobile access to this information in the first place. This means they must rely on call centers or search through PDF downloads on their phone.

The message is clear. If medical device manufacturers want to be more profitable, a better system is required for identifying and ordering parts.

But what, exactly, does that look like?

Four Key Elements to Perfect Parts Management for Medical Device Companies

1. Online/Offline Access

Going mobile has been a big term in field service for some time. However, as any medical field service engineer will attest to, “mobile” doesn’t always mean “useful”. Often times, being able to access the information they need on-site requires them to be online but the location they’re at has zero signal. Offline access is the only way for field service companies to be truly mobile without letting their KPIs suffer.

2. All the Information in One Place

Every medical device company undoubtedly has an extensive amount of scattered technical documents, price sheets, part lists, exploded diagrams, databases and product images totaling hundreds (even thousands!) of pages. Even if your company makes this available to the engineer via PDFs or shared drives, they still must search through all that information to find what they want.

The best parts management solution for medical device companies will take all these scattered pieces and create a curated, integrated and searchable catalog. This includes being able to search large quantities of information, have parts lists and exploded diagrams side-by-side with related hyperlinks, allowing an engineer to zoom in on exploded diagrams, view images and locate part numbers with ease.

3. Integration with Field Service Management

A key component to a successful service call is the ability for a field service engineer to easily and accurately find the information they need onsite. Expecting your engineers to visit several different screens, navigate away from their work order, or worse, write down long part numbers for placing an order once they have cell service again, is unrealistic and cumbersome.

Solutions that offer bi-lateral integration are the best way to arm your engineers with a single pane of glass that makes identifying and ordering parts smooth and seamless every time.

4. Up-to-Date Information

Parts information changes frequently, so field service engineers need to have the most up-to-date information available. Is that part available or out of stock? Has it been recalled? Is it obsolete and, if so, what is the alternative part that’s taken its place? These are all possibilities in a parts ordering scenario.

The truth about all parts information is that it is usually outdated as soon as it’s published. Even worse, field service engineers lose faith in knowledge that’s inaccurate or outdated, leaving you back at square one. Keeping a knowledge base updated, optimized and free from outdated information is crucial to medical field service. Therefore, make sure whatever solution you invest in will offer the support necessary to accomplish this.

Medical device companies’ profitability doesn’t have to suffer over incorrect parts orders. Implementing a parts management solution that offers online/offline, integrated parts catalogs is the ultimate solution to ensuring accurate parts ordering every time. It might not be a quick fix, but it is an important investment in the future of your business.

Attending Field Service Medical 2020? Stop by booth #203 to learn more about AnswersAnywhere, the only field service knowledge solution that includes bi-directional integration with ServiceMax and optimized, online/offline parts catalogs.

ABOUT Bo Wandell

Avatar photoBo Wandell is Vice President of AnswersAnywhere. A 30-year veteran of technology companies including successful startups based in Silicon Valley and Seattle, Bo has spent a significant portion of his career focused on creating and selling technologies and services focused on knowledge management methodologies that help corporations differentiate their interactions with customers. Bo is focused on helping AnswersAnywhere customers leverage knowledge management to create an integrated field service experience that is valued by end-users. When not working, Bo enjoys taking advantage of the all the outdoor activities the Pacific Northwest offers including hiking and snowshoeing, crabbing, shrimping, fishing and clamming.