Spotlight On High Volume Implant Manufacturing

Developing high volume manufacturing strategies requires a manufacturer to look at every aspect of their business. Phillips Precision Medicraft, a manufacturer of implants, instrumentation, and delivery systems, understood this and was determined to do what was necessary to meet the ever changing demands of the orthopedic industry. PPM’s mission was clear, invest in technology and training to dramatically increase, speed, and capacity to better serve its OEM customers.

Preparations began by allocating the necessary capital investments, applying LEAN 5S strategies systematically while also evaluating the latest technologies. As expected, the process was time-consuming; however, it uncovered one unexpected yet significant variable. The impact that the right equipment vendor would make to their bottom line.

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They decided to start with several dedicated manufacturing cells for select products. At the same time, the new vendor [Index Traub], gathered detailed information about the existing product manufacturing process to determine how best to apply the features of their technology. The cycle times they submitted didn’t seem possible but were proven accurate. The machine not only increased capacity and managed the manufacturing process controls fluidly the new technology also provided some other obvious immediate benefits. Four machines were freed up for other work. The new process reduced three operators to only requiring one. Parts no longer had to move through the shop, sit in a queue, and have multiple setups.

Spearheading this “revolution” as he likes to call it, is John Phillips, President of PPM’s implants and instrumentation division. “I like to say when I started really learning about lean methodologies, it was like getting a new pair of glasses,” said John. “All of a sudden all these things we were doing looked different to me and I wanted to jump in and change them right then and there. When you start doing that, it upsets people at first, but over time and when the changes result in measurable improvements, you begin to see a real culture change”.

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The introduction of palletized machining centers is also a great example of choosing the right new technology and vendor. This time they teamed up with Makino. The combined R & D between the teams was spot-on once again. Today the new system has reduced setups, is running components on-demand and in some cases is running lights out.

PPM’s engineering team also plays a critical role when it comes to high volume manufacturing.  Every project begins with the application of PPM’s unique form of DFM (design for manufacturability). The DFM process is applied before a product hits the manufacturing floor and often impacts speed-to-market and the cost of running a high volume implant operation.

Over the years, parts have become smaller and more tightly dimensioned; the equipment used in the past is no longer capable of machining today’s challenging designs. As an ever-evolving manufacturer, PPM made the most significant capital investments in recent years to ensure continued growth and the expansion of its capabilities.

2019 marks a notable milestone; the Phillips family celebrates 50 years in manufacturing. Their dedication to bridging the gap between engineering ideas and manufacturing is the cornerstone of who they are. Their commitment to LEAN, 5S continuous improvement methodologies and new technology ensures an ongoing level of excellence that brings long-term success.

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