Pushing Back Against the Headwinds from a CDMO's Perspective

Flex executives give tips on how to survive some of medtech’s strongest headwinds.

December 13, 2023

3 Min Read
Image Credit: deepblue4you via iStock/Getty Images

Late last month executives from Flex took part in an MD+DI/Qmed+ webinar to discuss topics and trends regarding Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations.

Flex’s Jennifer Samproni, Spencer Ward, and Ozzie Murillo answered some of the most pressing questions surrounding the industry.

There’s a case to be made for companies going externally and using a contract manufacturer. What would prevent a company from being successful with Industry 4.0 internally?

Ward: “Really companies need to weigh the investment costs, install the automation, connectivity, and intelligent equipment and systems along with hiring the right people to effectively use them. They also need to weigh the risks with a transformational change and how that change will be accepted. Also, they need to consider what it will take to operate and continue to customize the factory floor. This might hinge on whether the actual manufacturing is what sets the company apart. Otherwise, I would say there are distinct de-risking advantages to leveraging a CDMO partner.”

Has the industry fully recovered from the pandemic supply challenges?

Murrillo: “Have we fully recovered from the pandemic? In our experience the answer would be no. There’s definitely residual challenges that will be ongoing as well as some additional collateral damages that we’re still faced with. At the pandemic's early onset, we saw a complete stoppage of work. This had a profound effect on the manufacturing space and the manufacturers themselves from the standpoint of getting workers into the building – therefore the demand dropped. That’s at the component level. At the finished goods high-level assembly level, then it becomes a challenge of being able to deliver finished goods or finished products to the marketplace.”

We all saw that tremendous drop in the availability of a product going forward. As the pandemic started to subside and individuals started to return to the office, society started to return to the norm, then we saw a dramatic increase or spike in demand. We saw this through the fact that then as a contract manufacturer/CMO, a high-level assembler, we started to outpace the availability of critical components. You couple that along with even at that point labor was still not 100% back and today we still see pockets in some parts of the world and some parts of the US where the ability to get trained and skilled labor back into a manufacturing arena has been a challenge.

What are the most common mistakes made in early design, prior to freezing the design?

Samproni: “One of the most common pitfalls in R&D is a failure to integrate from a perspective of a comprehensive lifecycle. Design teams might concentrate on the immediate functionality and then overlook the individual aspects such as manufacturability, maintenance, and environmental impact. We know that this narrow focus can yield a product that meets the initial functional goals, but it might prove to be impractical, expensive to produce, or even unsustainable.

Another typical oversite is inadequate cross-functional collaboration. Often designs are developed without sufficient consultation with key stakeholders like manufacturing, like NPI. The absence of this vital input can lead to a design that’s theoretically sound but faces unforeseen challenges during manufacturing and beyond."

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