Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has erupted as a cultural phenomenon. Millions of people each day visit the video-sharing Web site to view the latest parodies, bloopers, and television and movie clips. But while many users surf the site as a diversion from their jobs, YouTube actually has the potential to enlighten OEMs. It’s just a matter of looking.
As the name suggests, YouTube is designed so that people can tailor use of the site to their own interests. And some users in the medical device manufacturing industry have done just that. Consequently, the site has evolved to contain industry-oriented videos, how-to lessons, and even educational lectures that could benefit engineers. Underneath the veil of viral videos, the site can actually serve as a valid resource for medical device manufacturing information.
Product videos can help engineers involved with purchasing make informed decisions and see potential equipment in action. Pouncing on this marketing opportunity, a number of savvy suppliers already have plugged into YouTube. Company home pages on the site showcase video clips demonstrating product capabilities. Users can even subscribe to a particular firm’s YouTube account in order to view new videos upon posting.
Applied Robotics has been a YouTube member since 2006. “YouTube seemed like a cutting-edge and low-cost way to distribute information on our company globally,” says Joanne Brown, marketing communications manager for the company. “It was almost like it was too good to be true, and I wanted Applied Robotics to be one of the first automation companies to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Fellow automation companies Kuka Robotics and Staubli Robotics also have accounts.
YouTube allows users to customize their experience on the site. And site potential does not end at supplier research—OEMs can use YouTube as a learning tool as well. SolidWorks tutorials are available, as are scores of videos addressing lean manufacturing tips and techniques.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers even has a visible presence on YouTube, hosting 60 videos on topics that run the gamut from compression molding to nanomanufacturing. Moreover, the organization shares an educational series dedicated to fundamental manufacturing processes that give the basics to scads of common operations.
And if users are looking to learn more about certain fields or just need a quick refresher course, educational materials also can be found on the site. The University of California, Berkeley has posted a number of its taped lectures online, including those for a course labeled the Structural Aspects of Biomaterials. Specific lectures available include Biocompatibility/FDA Regulatory Agency, Orthopedics, and UHMWPE Fatigue.
Just as materials, technologies, and processes for medical device manufacturing are always changing and evolving, so are the ways in which people obtain and disseminate this information. Video-sharing and other networking sites can be adapted to suit professional needs. With sites like YouTube, users can access industry-related information in a manner that is familiar and enjoyable. These sites proliferate pop culture.
Why not apply the capabilities we enjoy so much for our entertainment to our professional lives?