Experience & Trust

Keeping a Product…Alive

Flambeau has been bringing plastics to life since 1947. From inception to present day, our customers trust Flambeau’s industry experience to deliver quality medical devices and components on time, every time, and for a competitive value.

The Challenge

In one such case a global Orthopedics company trusts Flambeau to contract manufacture a minimally invasive surgical tool used in spine operations. The device is Class II, and is a key component to our customer’s proprietary line of surgical instruments.

During Flambeau’s standard assembly development phase, we (both Flambeau and our customer) realized the true costs of the product were significantly above budget expectations. Consequently, if our team could not find a way to drive out cost, the business case for this particular product would be lost and this life-enhancing device might never reach market.

The Answer

First, executive teams from both sides relied on a partnership based on mutual trust. Without trust, we all knew the project would fail. From there, the Flambeau team committed to cost downs in order to make the product viable and affordable. Next, Flambeau engineering teams from multiple sites (Phoenix, Baraboo, and Middlefield) collaborated on opportunities for cost reductions. Throughout the process audit, meaningful dialogue was established and practices from alternative manufacturing divisions were taken into account. With the assistance of key engineering personnel, QC management, and plant operations, a full process audit was performed and observations were recorded into the Flambeau database.

During their analysis of injection molding, over-molding, and assembly processes, Flambeau engineers identified several areas for improvement including:

    • Unnecessary movements inside/outside of cleanroom
    • Non-intuitive resource and location tracking
    • Manufacturing quantities were not conducive to cost efficiency

After multiple process iterations the Flambeau team was able to establish a manufacturing and assembly process which eliminated waste and created efficiency. Complete re-submissions of process parameters were required, along with a documented time and motion study. The necessary documentation was submitted on time and approved by the customer and the regulatory body.

The Result

Through a collaborative effort with the customer, Flambeau was able to reduce pricing by a healthy 31%. The cost savings was a three-fold success. First, the product line survived and our customer was able to sell in to the open market resulting in sales and profit for their business. Second, the experience of a deep dive into the manufacturing of this specific product line has caused Flambeau to become a competitive and highly regarded supplier of orthopedic products in the spine category. And finally, cost improvements and process improvements strengthened our relationship with the customer by demonstrating our medical manufacturing expertise.