The advent of Industry 4.0 and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic have put robots to work in medical device manufacturing. MICRO’s Steven Jacobsen, manager of process development engineering, shares how robotics is maximizing throughput, speed, and efficiency.

The pandemic of 2020 has reinforced the necessity to progress further toward automated cells for both the health and safety of our workforce as well as the continuity of the supply chain. As an essential business from the start, it was no easy task in these conditions, but we needed to find ways to ensure supply continuity of the lifesaving devices and tools that we create “To Help Our Customers Save Lives.”

– Steven Jacobsen, MICRO

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new urgency to automating medical device manufacturing. The situation has highlighted the benefits of true start-to-finish automated processes to help decrease the temporary impact associated with social distancing, the need for more stringent safety measures to prevent contamination, and from losing staff members to COVID-19-related family leave.

Even without these factors, robotic systems in medical device manufacturing still offer significant benefits. The ability to move with the dexterity of a human hand yet with greater speed, consistency, and tighter tolerances remains a great financial incentive. For example, our stainless-steel tube processing area, today, looks completely different than it did a decade ago.

A decade ago, you would have seen a room filled with people in close proximity, performing different tasks, such as running machines and inspecting components. Nowadays, that same room is filled with networked automated cells and one individual to oversee their operation.

While the industry has continued to trend in the direction of increased automation for years, sometimes it takes an even more extreme catalyst to make real sustained change. Innovative solutions with robotics, data analytics, shop floor visibility, and remote support are some of the many tools that have allowed us to achieve our goal of delivering product on time and without compromise to the safety of our workforce.

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