Faster innovation on a global scale is forcing many product manufacturers to rethink their capital equipment investments. Manufacturing facilities equipped with instrumentation for needed quality controls and other plant designs either anticipate new products not yet imagined or they do not. Obviously, companies that are forward thinking in capital equipment investment along these lines are building in long-term advantages to grab market share through innovation.
In the medical device industry, basic scientific research worldwide in nanotechnology, computational fluid dynamics, etc. is driving innovation. We see it in the form of new materials for prosthetics and implantable devices and new designs for surgical instruments. Catheters and drug-eluting stents, insulin pumps, sterile surgical tables and instrument packaging, and new laparoscopic surgical techniques are now possible because of improved instrument design.
Engineering teams – design, process, manufacturing, quality, etc. need to be thinking about the elasticity of every capital investment and its real economic-life if and when product designs change.