Assembly in Action / Medical Devices Assembly / Lean Manufacturing Assembly

Framing Forms Backbone of Medical Device Manufacturing

As orthopedic and medical device technology evolves, so do the manufacturing processes of industry leaders like Acumed. One product that has helped the company quickly adjust its processes over the past 13 years is versatile aluminum framing.

Made by Bosch Rexroth Corp., the extruded framing features a T-Slot channel that enables easy expansion, modification and reconfiguration without any special tools, welding, machining or painting. T-Slot cover strips install anywhere along the channel to conceal wires and provide a clean, finished look. The high-strength framing is available with dozens of profiles and hundreds of accessories.

Initially, Rexroth distributor Pacific Integrated Handling assembled framing structures and shipped them to Acumed, located in Hillsboro, OR. Pacific Integrated also provided consultation and design services. But, that changed in 2006.

“We wanted to use the [framing’s] capabilities to fit in with our development of a lean culture, where we experiment with new ideas and initiatives,” says Loren Blanchard, manufacturing manager for Acumed. “The materials allow us to reconfigure work areas quickly, using our own in-house resources.”

Today, Acumed uses framing to build workstations, assembly areas, shelving, clean room benches, room dividers and information boards. The company installs EcoSafe frame profiles, guarding and mounting components in ergonomic workstations to safeguard sensitive medical devices and workers.

Other framing structures include laminar-flow hoods to ensure sterility of orthopedic products, and a mini clean room that allows sterile assembly in a confined space. Also, when Acumed needed clean-inspection stations for
sensitive medical devices, it simply added a HEPA filter atop a standard workstation rather than pay $2,000 for a prebuilt laminar-flow station.

The framing’s versatility is critical to the success of the company’s 5S and process improvement initiatives. For the 5S program, Acumed uses dividers to create visual and physical barriers to promote workplace safety, organization and cleanliness.

The dividers separate sterile work areas from utilitarian ones, ensuring a productive, responsive and well-organized manufacturing facility. Blanchard says this layout always impresses visiting physicians and other medical professionals.

Another focus of the 5S program is reusability to minimize scrap and clutter. The framing is both reusable and recyclable, and its compact size permits ongoing employee communication and teamwork.

Acumed has also combined the aluminum framing with plastic to create another type of divider, called the Blue Wall. It is strategically located so that only certain sized items can be stored behind it. When the company’s needs change, framing from the wall will be taken down and reused somewhere else as a divider, a workstation or shelving.

At Acumed, process improvement involves implementing three new workplace efficiency concepts per month from the engineers, machinists and finishers in each workcell. A typical idea might involve changing the location of a specialized workstation, such as a mini clean room, to improve process flow. The framing enables new ideas to be quickly tested, providing participants with an immediate payoff on their suggestions and reinforcing Acumed’s commitment to empowering people by trying new approaches and techniques.

 For more information on structural framing, call 800-322-6724 or visit

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