How can you better streamline and document medical device assembly?
Role: RESEARCH, UI & UX Design
Medtronic was founded in 1949 as a medical equipment repair shop by Earl Bakken and his brother-in-law, Palmer Hermundslie. Over the years, they developed additional core technologies, including implantable mechanical devices, drug and biologic delivery devices, and powered and advanced energy surgical instruments. Today, their technologies are used to treat nearly 40 medical conditions.
The production of their medical devices is handled in factories across the globe through various processes with operators in an assembly line. Line managers receive the order requests and operators produce their component units in sequence across the line. Sheets of paper forms are passed down each station in what becomes long forms, with operators having to navigate them for applicable information and fields. Some factories have tried an computer-based system instead of paper, but have not been happy with experience and how it fits into assembly workflows.
We were approached to help create a system that could make the recording process easier for line managers and operators, reduce paper waste, and help shorten production time; all while meeting compliance regulations.
We were able to visit one of their manfucatoring factories, meet staff, and watch the process.
The forms passed between stations are long. Operators need to search through the forms and often cross-out much of it to find what’s applicable to them. It creates a lot of manual processes that become redundant and take up a large amount of time. They were looking to reduce that time to help dedicate more time to actual assembly and production.
After viewing the process, we worked with their team to map and document the workflow and identify which parts of it we could focus on for an MVP and which assembly line to start with: cardiovascular catheters.
The environment is sterile, with staff wearing gloves that have to changed repeatedly through out the process, along with full-body suits. Line operators have desktop computer stations that we could leverage for their part of the process. For the line operators, we focused on pressure-sensitive touchscreen displays. More modern tablet computers were ruled out because of the use of gloves. Modern capacitive touch screen technology (on tablets and phones) relies on electrical charges from your skin. Because they also need to change gloves when working on different components, that also ruled out a stylus interface for them.
We worked with their team to begin sketches and then wireframes based on our observations and information.
Application screens meant for line operators were made with affordances for touch through covered hands. The application would also need to support localization and scale for global use.
This project is currently in progress.