Automation firms join forces to help medical device manufacturers

UK-based automation companies, GB Innomech (Innomech) and FCS Automation (FCS) have agreed to work together to offer medical device manufacturing companies a more integrated approach to robotics and automation.

Tim Mead, MD of Innomech (L) with Mathew Sumpton, director of FCS Automation, in front of part of a manufacturing system that the two companies have been working on jointly for a UK-based client.
Tim Mead, MD of Innomech (L) with Mathew Sumpton, director of FCS Automation, in front of part of a manufacturing system that the two companies have been working on jointly for a UK-based client.

The new partnership aims to help companies looking to improve the efficiency, reliability, capacity or other key aspects of their production lines, to comply with new regulations or to integrate new functions.

Automation consultancy Innomech and FCS, a specialist in PLC control systems, plan to pool their complementary skills for targeted new business opportunities and to build on the success of a large-scale project that they recently completed for one of the world’s largest medical equipment manufacturers.

The two companies worked together to help a global corporation transfer an existing multi-stage automated system from one of its US sites into a UK production facility, while at the same time updating and reconfiguring it to significantly improve its efficiency.

Managing director of Innomech, Tim Mead commented: “FCS Automation has provided Innomech with specialist software development skills for several years, but this latest project was the first time we have worked as partners from the first customer meetings through to final machine sign-off.

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“The 12 month project was so successful that we believe other medical device manufacturers could benefit from our combined experience of working in validated production environments, together with our skills and ability to find system-level improvements to help boost product quality and manufacturing efficiency.”

The recently completed upgrade included replacing several aspects of the machine’s hardware to improve process control of critical manufacturing steps; renewing the safety system to enable easier and faster access to the machine for routine setting and maintenance; and implementing a more robust software-based product tracking system.

A system-wide review of the software also enabled the full integration of a product bagging station that had previously operated as a stand-alone function, giving a further boost to manufacturing efficiency.

As part of its in-depth analysis, the joint Innomech/FCS team was also able to identify several new ways to streamline the machine’s operational performance.

Additional features were added to the user interface to simplify machine operation, and a comprehensive code review identified the causes of occasional screen lock-ups and system crashes that previously interrupted routine production and affected overall line efficiency.