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30.01.2019

Production solutions at two sites in Germany and Ireland guarantee 100% delivery availability of power supply units

Risk management – development of parallel power supply unit production at sites in Bocholt (Germany) and Wexford (Ireland).

The compact structure of the M7.3 Plus combines innovative and reliable hardware and software in the smallest of spaces. It is used in a respiratory device manufactured by the company Dräger.

Photo: © Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA, Lübeck. All rights reserved.

Manufacturing of power supply units for medical technology systems is subject to the highest safety and quality standards. In addition to this, guaranteeing a capacity for uninterrupted delivery represents a key demand placed on the supplier. This is because uncontrolled fluctuations in, or a complete breakdown of supply, can have a significant impact on the logistical processes of the manufacturing system and disrupt production of devices for an indeterminate period of time. This could result in significant economic consequences for the device manufacturer.

As one of the leading producers of synchronised OEM power supplies, BENNING has been developing complex power supply units for more than 30 years. Its products are especially designed for the rigorous demands of medical technology applications.

They stand out for two reasons. Firstly, their high quality and excellent reliability, which meet both national and international safety (EN 60950, UL/CUL 1950 and IEC 60601-1) and EMC (EN 55022-B) standards. Secondly, their hardware and software, which is tailored to the individual requirements of each customer, meaning each power supply unit has its own specific layout and software design. According to the technical specifications required by the customer, units are also fitted with the appropriate interfaces, AC and DC outputs as well as the control, regulation and monitoring of the software necessary to enable it to operate efficiently.

Tailor-made solutions

Power supply units developed by BENNING are widely used in the complex field of medical technology, for example in heart/lung machines, MRI, dialysis systems, anaesthetic systems and respiratory devices.

Constant dialogue

The design and functionality of all power supply units is specifically tailored to individual customer requirements, ensuring quality of treatment and safety for patients. This is the result of decades of experience working with the highest standards and requirements of the medical sector, as well as a close and trusting collaboration with producers of medical devices.

BENNING maintains a dialogue with its customers throughout the entire process, from the planning phase through to the start of production. This means any special or complex requirements can be discussed in great detail and appropriate solutions can be found. The development process usually involves the creation of an initial prototype, which is then further developed in close cooperation with the customer. When it comes to agreeing IT, logistics and production processes, regular inspection takes place in accordance with the customer's quality and manufacturing standards.

Risk-Management

A special requirement that the company Dräger presented to BENNING, was the guaranteed availability of the M7.3 Plus power supply unit. The company uses this unit in a number of different types of devices. The request was for identical production at two independent sites, both of which would be designed to have the capacity to completely fulfil the required delivery quantities. This would ensure that the delivery of power supply units would not stop – and therefore Dräger's production of medical devices would not be disrupted if something were to happen at one of the production sites, such as a flood or fire. The alternative could be significant economic losses, because developing, verifying and launching a similar production route with the required capabilities and level of output would take a detrimental length of time to set up.

BENNING entered into intensive discussions with Dräger in order to work out all of its specific requirements for the production and logistics processes – with the aim of not only guaranteeing delivery availability, but also maximising economy through the implementation of resource-friendly, sustainable processes; each power supply unit needs to be packaged, stored, repackaged and integrated into the customer's production processes and logistics. Together, they developed a concept whereby two independent sites would each manufacture at a workload rate of 50%.

This intended the set-up of an identical production line in Wexford to run in parallel to the BENNING factory in Bocholt. Inspection and approval of the second production site by Dräger took place in summer 2018 and is testament to the fact that production is taking place in accordance with the highest manufacturing standards at both production facilities.

Light beam-controlled assembly of circuit boards prevents errors and increases efficiency.
Light beam-controlled assembly of circuit boards prevents errors and increases efficiency.

Assembled PCBs are checked using in-circuit testers. Adapters scan the PCBs, compare the result with the program and identify improper assembly, interruptions, short-circuits or deviations in the electrical values straight away.

Designed in Germany

The only difference between the devices manufactured in Ireland and Germany is the name plate, which bears the marking "Made in Germany" or "Made in Ireland". In other words, "Designed in Germany, made in Ireland". All inspection and production procedures are replicated precisely in Ireland, where the implementation timeframe was around twelve months. During this time, various ideas and possibilities were discussed and processes and potential solutions were analysed. With a mindset of "Train the Trainer", the Irish production manager underwent intensive training in Bocholt, learning all about the processes so that they could be applied in exactly the same way in the Wexford factory. For the purposes of quality assurance and inspection, the production manager from Bocholt then visited Ireland to check that all processes were indeed being implemented in an identical manner. 

Final testing (west-test) of all power supply units is carried out using state-of-the-art test computers.
Final testing (west-test) of all power supply units is carried out using state-of-the-art test computers.
In the final inspection step before dispatch, all power supply units are subjected to an endurance test (run-in test) lasting several hours (image left).
In the final inspection step before dispatch, all power supply units are subjected to an endurance test (run-in test) lasting several hours (image left).

Secure and efficient logistics

There was particular scope to identify existing potential and optimise processes in the field of logistics. For example, production at BENNING is to be linked into the VMI (Vendor Management Inventory) principle. This is a supplier-managed warehouse, in which BENNING is responsible for ensuring that the current stock is always in line with specifications set out by Dräger.

This enables the necessary production capacity to be organised in an efficient manner, where Dräger provides access to a special supplier platform, which delivers up-to-date forecasts on expected product demand. In addition to ensuring maximum delivery availability, sustainable solutions were developed for external and internal logistics processes. For instance, a modular ESD (electro-static discharge) plastic returnable packaging system has been developed, designed precisely for secure and efficient external and internal transport of power supply units.

The smallest unit is a specially moulded inlay, which holds three power supply units. Thanks to the ergonomic arrangement, these units can be gripped quickly and securely removed for installation. Specially moulded foam cushions with an exceptional degree of hardness have also been integrated into the packaging unit, to reduce the impact of knocks during transport. The verification process was carried out on vibrating tables in BENNING's, in-house, environmental laboratory. Each power supply unit is additionally equipped with a Fairchild bag to prevent moisture from getting in (e.g. during transport). There are two inlays in a packaging unit, designed especially for the internal production and transport systems used at Dräger.

The total weight of the container, complete with six power supply units, is just 15 kg. This means it can easily be lifted and carried by one person. The dimensions of the box are optimised for use with pallets. A total of 192 power supply units can be placed on a Euro-pallet, also made of ESD plastic – split into four levels, each with eight boxes. The base of one box forms the lid of the box below to make optimum use of pallet height, which is restricted by the size of shelving units.

This reusable packaging system simply calls for a separate lid on the very top. By avoiding the use of wood or cardboard, significantly less dirt and dust is released – a highly beneficial factor in the production process.

Bottom line: reliable and sustainable

The new system removes the need for additional goods handling as the individual packaging units can now be integrated into production logistics directly from the pallet. After that, they go back to BENNING’s factories in Bocholt and Wexford, where they are stocked with power supply units once again.

Each inlay can hold three power supply units. To prevent penetration of moisture during transport, all power supply units are additionally equipped with a Fairchild bag.
Each inlay can hold three power supply units. To prevent penetration of moisture during transport, all power supply units are additionally equipped with a Fairchild bag.

The production solution implemented at the two sites has made it possible to maximise delivery availability. The new multiple-use principle has led to more economical logistics processes, with significant savings on packaging materials such as wood and cardboard, which have made an important contribution towards dealing responsibly with our natural resources.

Further Information

author/contact: Dirk Petrich
telephone: +49 2871 93 401
e-mail: d.petrich@benning.de

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