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Electro-Biology Expands Its Product Line
Companys new medical devices complement its bone growth products
BY MARIALBA MARTINEZ
March 7, 2002
When Electro-Biology Inc. (EBI) parent company Biomet Co. invested $90 million to purchase bone fusion stimulation manufacturer Biolectron Inc. in 2000, it was a perfect fit for Puerto Rico-based EBI and its work developing bone growth products, said Eng. Bartolome Gamundi, EBI vice president for manufacturing and general manager.
"We are investing about $500,000 in equipment to prepare for manufacturing of our two most recent products, the SpinalPak and OrthoPak. These are noninvasive bone growth stimulators and can be used for inpatient or outpatient settings.
"The SpinalPak complements another EBI product, the Spinal Fusion Stimulator (SpF). While the SpinalPak has the same functions, the device does not need to be surgically implanted. This will make the device very attractive to medical practitioners and its current production, running at approximately 2,000 units per month, with a 20% to 25% average growth. We feel production could double in the near future," said Gamundi.
The lightweight SpinalPak is the size and shape of a small, narrow cellular phone and runs on a 9-volt battery. It is conveniently carried in a holster by the patient.
The OrthoPak is used to treat non-union fractures and its design is also small and lightweight.
The leads from the SpF and OrthoPak run from the device to the injured area. Each lead carries an electrode, similar to those used during MRI tests, with enough adhesive to last two to three days. Treatment usually last 28 to 30 weeks.
"We are starting to distribute production without duplicating the unit costs of these medical devices among contract manufacturing plants that can assemble a particular element. In this way, we reduce operating costs and create economic opportunities for other plants in Puerto Rico. We dont have, or need to duplicate, the needed expertise in some of these areas. So we outsource the work to contract manufacturers from the design stage," said Gamundi.
More than 90% of EBI products are made by four to six contract manufacturers in the island from areas such as printing, leather goods for holster and belt manufacturing, plastic injection molding manufacturing, and to produce elements of the devices computerized boards. About 10% of the companys raw materials are bought on the island, with some 50 suppliers providing other materials and services.
All former Bioelectron manufacturing processes have been transferred to Puerto Rico, although the Allentown, N.J. plant continues operations under Biomet. The transfer included EBIs plant certification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about six months ago.
"Key personnel from our plant flew to New Jersey for their training. As a result, the products transfer to Puerto Rico was made without losing a single production day or failing to make an order. It was totally transparent to our customers," said Gamundi.
In 1982, EBI was established in Puerto Rico by its parent company, Biomet Inc. It is now housed in a 45,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that has added some $15 million in equipment and infrastructure improvements.
"Today, EBI has 150 employees, mostly trained in technical and professional areas such as engineering, microbiology, electronics, and business management. Through internal retraining and restructuring within the company, along with outsourcing of its non-core businesses, we have been able to expand and absorb new product lines, maintaining our level of staff," said Gamundi.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.