Three years ago, we launched our First Step program at Hobson & Motzer, our project-based rapid precision prototyping and new product development (NPD) platform. It was a natural progression to the work we had been doing with major medical device OEMs for over a century in precision metal components.
Customers in advanced industries have expressed a need for higher level NPD support: prototyping executed to precision tolerances, and greater metrology depth—providing an opportunity for the part and manufacturing process to evolve simultaneously, yielding valuable data and learning that does not occur when the two processes are separate.
Valuing customer input, we spoke with one very experienced Medical Device Development Engineer currently with a company that has worked with us on multiple NPD projects for different products developed with our First Step team. His feedback inspired this article. When directly quoting him, we will refer to him as “DE.”
Primary Factors when Choosing a Manufacturing Partner
Choosing a manufacturing partner involves due diligence. There are primary factors to consider when engaging a manufacturing partner for machining and stamping:
- Quality certification—ISO 13485; 9001:2015
- Medical device product experience
- Medical component manufacturing capabilities
- Price, delivery, quality, capacity
- Development speed
- Top-down engagement by the organization
- Company culture aligned with customer goals
Specifically, DE said of Hobson & Motzer that the top-down engagement is impressive: “Not every company commits this way, leaving gaps, because sometimes there are layers in the organization that don’t know about a project. And we all know that gaps can translate to lost time and missing information.”Read the full article here!
Expectations and Collaboration
Building trust with a manufacturing partner involves meeting expectations and targets consistently. The clearest path to this is through transparent communication.
“Communication is the glue,” DE said of Hobson & Motzer. “We made it through all gates and hit the schedules. Communication is strong there—every stakeholder is very aware. When we had schedule pauses (for our internal reasons), they were very agile and met our changes fluidly—hitting all the dates. This is when their ability to act with the resources of a big company, and the response of a smaller, agile company shines.”
What we’ve heard consistently is that having a documented process is the most important requirement for engineers in any NPD. Prototype lessons learned are documented for DFM in a process flow control plan PFMEA (Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis) draft. When prototyping, all info is captured, so when the process moves on to full production, we leverage all of the data.
DE said, “We acquire all of this data early on; it becomes the road map and the process steps we are confident with. The PFMEA gives us clear process points and affords us processes we can verify. This is the best use of ISO standards in action, enabling speed-to-launch and preventing production start-up issues.”
Hobson & Motzer works from an engineering blueprint. DE is impressed that the team assembled for each meeting consists of Hobson & Motzer’s president, Bruce Dworak, along with department heads from sales and marketing and technical leadership to business and quality development engineers, management leadership, and CNC experts. DE commented, “All are very aware of the speed and all milestones leading the project.”
Iterations and Agility
Revision happens. It is the nature of design and improvement. The hallmark of a production partner’s ability to pivot and make solid recommendations comes from a trait that may sound surprising, according to DE: “Curiosity. A good supplier needs to want to know more and know what questions to ask. Ask the why of a situation. Hobson & Motzer acts and reacts nimbly, intelligently, independently.”
There were some unique design and production challenges with this customer that involved tolerances. Of this, DE noted, “There were requirements for tight tolerance areas on a component. Hobson & Motzer made option recommendations and explained the reasons for those recommendations. We were at a very important juncture—we weren’t sure about the options. Hobson & Motzer was very sure and had comparison data sets to make the recommendation. Hobson & Motzer can offer reliable options, along with the data to support them.”
Mission Critical Applications
In medical and surgical device production, precision is the ultimate requirement. We know we must meet these stringent demands. So, we asked DE, “Why Hobson & Motzer over others?” The reply: “We are most impressed with their top-down engagement and vertical integration. The toolroom to final assembly to ship, along with automation is all very valuable—and necessary for well-executed DFM. We consider Hobson & Motzer a valued partner (and it is obvious they treat us likewise). We are always impressed with their company culture and commitment to quality and innovation. This process is data driven to document, and they are transparent in their communication and with the data. When we had challenges meeting a critical requirement—they helped develop the solution. We combined our knowledge as a cohesive team, and delivered. Not all companies have all these ingredients.”
We also wanted to know how our model may differentiate us. DE shared, “The First Step team is extremely cohesive and knowledgeable. They exemplify how to do this work well. You work with a group of experts who value each other’s opinions and experience, bringing value and success to your project. We do not see this kind of cohesive team elsewhere. We trust Hobson & Motzer to deliver all our components reliably and consistently.”
Make Your First Step Count
At Hobson & Motzer, the best First Step is one that employs the same proven processes applied in large-scale production programs from the get-go—with the full force of our team and talent behind it. An engagement with Hobson & Motzer’s First Step program is just that—the First Step in a successful product development project.
Explore the possibilities for your next project.Read the full article here!
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