Innovation through CPD in medical device facilities
28 November 2013
Author: Diarmuid Collins, B Eng, MBA, C Eng, MIEI, facilities and environmental health & safety manager, Boston Scientific Clonmel
Boston Scientific transforms lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. As a global medical technology leader for more than 30 years, the company advances science for life by providing a broad range of high-performance solutions that address unmet patient needs and reduce the cost of healthcare.
The company employs about 24,000 people worldwide and is a global leader in the development of less-invasive medical devices. It is committed to continued investment in research, development and innovation, investing nearly $1 billion last year in new products and technologies.
Boston Scientific established its Clonmel operation in 1998. The site specialises in the development, manufacture and distribution of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators for the cardiac rhythm management (CRM) business. The site also supports some products for the neuromodulation (pain management) division, an area that is demonstrating strong growth. The therapies delivered by our products can be both life-changing and life-saving.
Following an audit by Engineers Ireland in April 2013, Boston Scientific in Clonmel was awarded the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Accredited Employer Standard. This prestigious award recognises how the systems that we use on site every day are helping Boston Scientific in ‘advancing science for life’.
Boston Scientific Clonmel was honoured with the ‘Adaptability Through Creativity and Innovation Award’ at the Engineers Ireland Annual Symposium for CPD last month.
DEVELOPMENT OF CLONMEL FACILITY
The capability of the Clonmel facility has grown over the years, combining product innovations with process innovations to place Boston Scientific products at the leading edge of CRM technologies. Our success has resulted in the Clonmel site being recognised as an innovation leader within Boston Scientific. Top management is committed to the professional development of all staff, with an appropriate focus on the technical cohort. Leaders have dedicated significant resources and resolve to enabling engineering professionals to grow competencies in a structured, supportive and singularly focused manner.
Boston Scientific has invested significantly in the development of new manufacturing processes for pacemakers and defibrillators, both highly complex medical devices. The company needs to be flexible in its approach to innovation in order to respond to changes, maintain the highest quality and effectively respond to customer needs.
Adaptability through CPD is an important means that Boston Scientific employs and the company has various processes in place to support a mentoring and coaching culture.
The performance of individuals is strongly linked to the Boston Scientific Mission – ‘Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world’. The Clonmel facility supports this mission through four pillars – operation excellence, new products, product cost and innovation. The company’s performance management development system is a significant asset in communicating and driving critical business objectives, underpinned by leadership competencies and core values. Weekly one-to-ones and training for managers in coaching and situational leadership accelerate performance and development.
Knowledge management is key to managing the numerous facets of our ongoing product and process development activities, which is called the knowledge-driven product development (KDPD) process. Knowledge Central is an internal platform used to globally connect people and knowledge across the Boston Scientific network. Our product life-cycle process (PLCP) integrates business, technical and quality system tasks to drive innovative product ideas from concept to end-of-life.
The Boston Scientific Clonmel facility staff includes engineers and technicians working across the engineering disciplines of mechanical, electrical, software, electronic, industrial and chemical. The company continuously invests in its engineers, which has led to benefits both in the international markets it serves and the communities in which it operates. Approximately 50 per cent of the organisation’s learning and development budget is allocated to further education.
Internal courses are offered on methodologies such as DMAIC (define, measure, analyse, implement and control) and PS (problem solving) and knowledge forums have been created for key process technologies. There is a clear roadmap for leaning out non-manufacturing areas, automating where possible and becoming process experts for key technologies.
There is a dedicated process development group of over 100 engineers and technicians engaged in innovation, and development of all technical roles is structured under the ‘Engineering Essentials Competency Framework’. All technical staff are required to assess their competence annually against a range of core engineering skills and use the results to guide their development plans.
A strong mentoring programme is in place featuring a learning and development specialist, who is an accredited coach with the International Coaching Federation. Two coaching programmes have been recently developed. New engineers have individual peer mentors assigned to help them understand our engineering process. Additionally, talent management programmes are in place to develop future leaders at an early stage of their career and to enhance their skills and abilities.
There is also a management foundations programme that is geared towards newly appointed or potential people managers. Finally, a robust intern programme incorporates mentoring by graduate engineers and the need for interns to take ownership and accountability immediately on projects and present to top management.
Space is reserved on-site for prototyping with active encouragement of trials and simulations. Physicians and patients are facilitated on-site and a very active programme of learning is pursued in order to capture lessons learned that might spark further innovations including visits to physicians and the opportunity for staff to attend at surgical implanting of the products, which is a real privilege.
A new process was conceived at Clonmel and taken through process development, design and regulatory approval to commercial production, resulting in nine patents with six more pending, exemplifying the process development capabilities of the engineering team.
The medical device sector is one of the most competitive in the world and professional development is key to maintaining our position as a world leader. Its strengths in driving innovation have resulted in the Clonmel site taking its place among the innovation leaders within Boston Scientific. The Engineers Ireland CPD Accreditation Framework gives us an excellent structure to help ensure we continue to transform in order to deliver new innovations in existing and emerging markets.
Boston Scientific Clonmel is now a location where creativity and innovation are embedded into the culture. New processes are faster and improve quality and aesthetics, increase flexibility and reduce costs. They are a direct result of investment in CPD.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2013/11/28/innovation-through-cpd-in-medical-device-facilities/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/CPD-1024x683.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/CPD-300x300.jpgBioBoston Scientific,CPD,Engineers Ireland,medical devices