We write about medical devices every day, but we’ve never actually seen them being made. Thanks to an invitation from Philips Respironics to join the company in the opening of their new factory, we discovered how technologically advanced medical device production really is. Philips Respironics is a leading firm in PAP (Positive Air Pressure) technology for helping people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) get quality sleep throughout the night. Philips Respironics’ CPAP (Continuous PAP) and BiPAP (bi-level CPAP) devices have been sold in the tens of thousands worldwide, but the field continues to be ripe for innovation.
Even the latest CPAP machines continue to have serious disadvantages that keep patient compliance at levels that need much improvement. To build the next generation of PAP machines that overcome some of these drawbacks, Philips has built a new high tech factory in New Kensington, outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Paperless, all computerized assembly allows the tracking of individual components that go into each PAP machine. So if a recall of one of the parts does occur, Philips Respironics will be able to know immediately which units are affected. Each device undergoes pressure, noise, and safety testing and every worker has a switch to stop the assembly line if an error is detected. Moreover, all the line workers know how to do each part of the assembly process, essentially creating a system where all work is at least double checked as it goes along the line.
During our tour of the factory, we got to see the latest generation of PAP machines that Philips is now building that will be formally unveiled tomorrow at Medtrade in Atlanta, Georgia.
The REMstar line of PAP machines with Philips Respironics’ Flex technology promises to deliver some serious advantages over current market offerings. For one, positive pressure is continuously controlled by an algorithm that adjusts to patient’s breathing. So, unlike current models, the air stream should feel much more comfortable as you breathe in and out. This is probably the biggest drawback of PAP machines that Philips is trying to overcome, and hopefully the new generation of smart PAP devices can significantly improve patient compliance.
The other major advancement Philips Respironics is touting is a solution to “rainout”, a common side effect of CPAP machines where the mask will spit out a bit of water that has condensed inside the delivery tube. Company reps were mum on how this is actually accomplished, but promised calmer nights without the surprises.
One more feature we found particularly interesting is REMstar’s ability to store a full night’s stream of data to an SD memory card for later analysis by a physician or sleep therapist. This means that every breath throughout the night can be scrutinized at a later time.
We’d like to thank the company for inviting us out to Pittsburgh, the City of Champions, to take a look at their new facility that we feel they should be properly proud of.
And, finally, here’s Edmund Kruse, Police Chief of the local Upper Burrell Police Department, one of the guests invited to the factory opening, trying out the new REMstar PAP machine.
Philips Respironics official product launch site: 10/13 @ 10:13…
Link: Philips Respironics…