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Partnership Proves Key to Better Product Launch

  Originally Published MDDI March 2006 OUTSOURCING NEWS  

OUTSOURCING NEWS

Heather Thompson
Stryker's vertebral access and bone bi-
opsy system required flexible lead times and prototyping capabilities the company did not have in-house.
Market launch is nearly always a difficult process; such was the case with a product for Stryker Corp. (Kalamazoo, MI). The company was developing a vertebral access and bone biopsy system, which would allow physicians to percutaneously remove a cancerous sample while maintaining access to the vertebral body for further surgical intervention, such as vertebroplasty.

“Stryker had a challenging project that required integrating key development and design,” says Scott Green, project engineer at Stryker Corp. Green explains that the forecasted volumes were too low for an economic launch at Stryker Instruments' main disposable product manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico. “We required a vendor that would essentially own the supply chain, manufacturing process, and sterilization process for the product,” he says.

In addition, during the development of the product, Stryker needed prototyping capabilities that the company did not have in-house. “The main vendor of needles for the product could supply prototypes, but in a time frame that would delay product launch,” says Green. “The lead time and associated project schedule was in a constant state of flux, and we had to find another avenue for prototyping.”

To meet those challenges, Stryker turned to the Atek Co.'s new product group. Atek's facility in Grand Rapids, MI, has worked extensively with Medtronic, which has helped the company grow; however, according to Atek president Chris Oleksy, that close relationship has also kept it from being able to expand as a full-service contract manufacturer. “This facility was once owned by Medtronic, and the expertise here has been focused on continuing that tradition,” he says. “We decided to expand that level of service to other customers.” The company has done so by adding resources, such as flexible supply chains and value streams. Green says Stryker was incredibly lucky to have Atek so close. “Atek's proximity enabled us to arrange invaluable face-to-face meetings,” says Green. “Additionally, the project team at Atek was knowledgeable not only about their own methods and protocols, but also about those of Stryker and about ways to efficiently meet the needs of both partners.”

“Throughout development and launch,” says Green, “Atek provided a level of communication and a willingness to be flexible that made project management from Stryker's end much simpler.” The Atek Co., which includes Grand Rapids–based Atek Medical Manufacturing, added resources and capabilities to its new products group. The company is taking a more-active role in development. It has added staff in engineering, quality, and supply-chain departments. The changes were made based on customer requests and to fulfill the company's strategy to create a more-intimate partnership with clients. “Intimacy is something that we strongly believe in,” notes Oleksy.

Copyright ©2006 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry
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