Auto­ma­ti­on for Medi­cal Device Manu­fac­tu­rers in Min­ne­so­ta


While many auto­ma­ti­on and equip­ment pro­vi­ders ser­vice cus­to­mers from a wide varie­ty of indus­tries, Invo­tec is proud to focus on sca­ling assem­bly, test, and inspec­tion solu­ti­ons exclu­si­ve­ly for medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­rers.

In the arti­cle below, Manu­fac­tu­ring in Focus talks with our experts to learn more about what that means for cus­to­mers in this uni­que industry—specifically tho­se clo­sest to our new faci­li­ty in Min­nea­po­lis, MN.

*This arti­cle was ori­gi­nal­ly publis­hed in Manu­fac­tu­ring in Focus (July 2020). You can view the ori­gi­nal arti­cle and full Manu­fac­tu­ring in Focus maga­zi­ne here or down­load a PDF copy.

Sca­ling Auto­ma­ti­on for Medi­cal Device Manu­fac­tu­rers in Min­ne­so­tA

Writ­ten by Jen Hocken, Manu­fac­tu­ring in Focus

Invo­tec is glo­bal­ly reco­gni­zed for designing and buil­ding cus­tom equip­ment for the medi­cal device indus­try. It spe­cia­li­zes    in com­plex assem­bly, tes­ting, and inspec­tion sys­tems for the­se manu­fac­tu­rers, and wit­hin this mar­ket, the com­pa­ny is   qui­te ver­sa­ti­le. It can pro­du­ce equip­ment for any app­li­ca­ti­on ran­ging from the smal­lest of com­pon­ents to the most com­pli­ca­ted pro­duc­tion lines.

Engi­neers Daryl Grey­witt and John Han­na foun­ded the com­pa­ny in 1993. As a start­up, Invo­tec was a design engi­neering firm, but over the years, it reco­gni­zed a need for com­ple­te, cus­tom auto­ma­ti­on sys­tems. As it grew, adding in-house machi­ning and con­trols skills enab­led the com­pa­ny to pro­vi­de the­se solu­ti­ons and ser­vices to its cus­to­mers. Invo­tec has achie­ved suc­cess by deve­lo­ping a repu­ta­ti­on for its tech­ni­cal exper­ti­se and its abi­li­ty to tack­le com­plex pro­jects. After gai­ning expe­ri­ence in a varie­ty of indus­tries, the com­pa­ny took its natu­ral pro­gres­si­on toward the medi­cal device indus­try, and that is whe­re its focus remains. Invotec’s 60,000 squa­re foot head­quar­ters are loca­ted in Day­ton, Ohio, an area satu­ra­ted with medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­rers.

In 2017, Invo­tec was acqui­red by the Hahn Group, a conglom­erate of inter­na­tio­nal com­pa­nies spe­cia­li­zing in indus­tri­al auto­ma­ti­on and robo­tics; John and Daryl have kept a sta­ke in the com­pa­ny and con­ti­nue to have an acti­ve pre­sence in the busi­ness. Backed by the orga­niz­a­ti­on, Invo­tec has fur­ther incre­a­sed its remo­te sup­port, buy­ing capa­bi­li­ties, and access to new tech­no­lo­gy. The Hahn group covers various levels of auto­mation inclu­ding auto­mo­ti­ve, con­su­mer goods, and pack­a­ging, and Invo­tec has proud­ly beco­me its medi­cal device arm.

Then, in 2018, Invo­tec made the decisi­on to bring its solu­ti­ons to Min­ne­so­ta. The decisi­on to expand into the Brook­lyn Park, Min­ne­so­ta regi­on was based on its prime loca­ti­on wit­hin the Twin Cities metro­po­li­tan area whe­re many of the lar­gest medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­rers are sett­led.

We came to Min­ne­so­ta reco­gni­zing the­re was a need that had ope­ned up in this par­ti­cu­lar mar­ket­place. Some of the major buil­ders had chan­ged hands, and the land­s­cape had chan­ged, and so it was an oppor­tu­ne time for Invo­tec to expand, now being part of the Hahn Group,” said Busi­ness Deve­lo­p­ment Mana­ger Ste­ve Gau­stad. The new faci­li­ty has fif­teen thousand squa­re feet, com­ple­te with a machi­ne shop, a visi­on lab, and design capa­bi­li­ties.

Invo­tec aims for loca­ti­ons across the United Sta­tes that are medi­cal hubs so it can help the­se area’s essen­ti­al busi­nes­ses that requi­re very spe­ci­fic auto­ma­ti­on sys­tems. Wit­hin the medi­cal indus­try, regu­la­ti­ons are con­ti­nu­al­ly chan­ging and tech­no­lo­gy is always advan­cing. Unli­ke some other realms of manu­fac­tu­ring, buil­ders are held to an excep­tio­nal­ly high-qua­li­ty stan­dard and are also expec­ted to incre­a­se auto­ma­ti­on and cut cos­ts.

Invo­tec can pro­du­ce equip­ment for any app­li­ca­ti­on ran­ging from the smal­lest of com­pon­ents to the most com­pli­ca­ted pro­duc­tion lines.”

Medi­cal busi­nes­ses in Min­ne­so­ta have beco­me accus­to­med to working with equip­ment buil­ders and auto­ma­ti­on com­pa­nies that ser­vice medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­rers but do not neces- sari­ly spe­cia­li­ze in the field. Invo­tec con­cen­tra­tes exclu­si­ve­ly on medi­cal device auto­ma­ti­on sys­tems and has stri­ven to be as acces­si­ble as pos­si­ble to the­se manu­fac­tu­rers.

Brook­lyn Park pro­vi­des real­ly nice pro­xi­mi­ty to some of the major medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­rers in the world that are in this area, so it see­med only logi­cal for us to open up shop here. And we’­ve expe­ri­en­ced some real­ly nice suc­cess in a rela­tively short peri­od of time,” Ste­ve con­ti­nued.

Ste­ve attri­bu­tes Invotec’s suc­cess to its hard­wor­king team of employees as well as the cul­tu­re of the com­pa­ny. It has hired some of the most skil­led engi­neers, tool­ma­kers, machi­nists, and machi­ne assem­bly per­son­nel in the busi­ness. The level of expe­ri­ence here is also signi­fi­cant. Appro­xi­mate­ly six­teen employees have been working with the com­pa­ny for over fif­teen years. In Min­ne­so­ta alo­ne, employees have rough­ly eigh­ty years of com­bi­ned expe­ri­ence.

Ste­ve also descri­bed the impor­t­ance of main­tai­ning its posi­ti­on at the fore­front of tech­no­lo­gy and inno­va­ti­on in the field. “In medi­cal devices, it’s ever-chan­ging tech­no­lo­gies, and if we’­re not on the cusp of under­stan­ding the most per­ti­nent tech­no- logi­cal advan­ce­ments, our com­pe­ti­tors are going to be, so we have to con­ti­nu­al­ly stay abre­ast of that. Tha­t’s whe­re our years of expe­ri­ence com­bi­ned with youth­ful exu­ber­an­ce real­ly pays off and hel­ps us kind of rise abo­ve our com­pe­ti­ti­on.”

The medi­cal device indus­try is unli­ke manu­fac­tu­ring fiel­ds that expe­ri­ence mini­mal chan­ges from year to year. The annu­al deve­lo­p­ments in tech­no­lo­gy and regu­la­ti­ons for medi­cal devices are exten­si­ve. Manu­fac­tu­rers are under uni­que pres­su­re to lower cos­ts while adhe­ring to regu­la­to­ry stan­dards, and Invo­tec has the expe­ri­ence and exper­ti­se to adapt with its cus­to­mers in this strict envi­ron­ment.

We, as a com­pa­ny, have to build strong rela­ti­ons­hips with our cus­to­mers and approach solu­ti­ons under­stan­ding that the pro­duct may not be final when we began designing equip­ment. We, more so than most, pri­de our­sel­ves in remai­ning fle­xi­ble when chan­ges to the pro­duct affect our solu­ti­ons,” said Busi­ness Deve­lo­p­ment Direc­tor Noah Smith.

Other auto­ma­ti­on equip­ment buil­ders may expect cus­to­mers to have a com­ple­ted pro­duct befo­re even enter­tai­ning the idea of a quo­te for a pos­si­ble solu­ti­on. Invo­tec, on the other hand, under­stands that in the medi­cal device indus­try, it is com­mon for manu­fac­tu­rers to have to think about equip­ment befo­re   the pro­duct is fina­li­zed. The com­pa­ny stri­ves to be mind­ful of its cus­to­mers’ ope­ra­ti­ons to help iden­ti­fy poten­ti­al risks or chal­len­ges ear­ly in the pro­cess of designing.

With new equip­ment and tech­no­lo­gy com­ing out all the time, Invo­tec often finds its­elf hel­ping its cus­to­mers under­stand what they are hoping to achie­ve. “Some­ti­mes, cus­to­mers are asking the wrong ques­ti­on. They’ll ask ‘How do I auto­ma­te this?’ or ‘How do I sca­le up?’ but what they’­re real­ly wan­ting to do is impro­ve qua­li­ty or impro­ve the assem­bly pro­cess to make it more eco­no­mic, make it more effi­ci­ent, or redu­ce defects,” said Mar­ke­ting Coor­di­na­tor Sarah Speltz.

We’­re new in Min­ne­so­ta, but we’­re not a start-up. We’­re here with the full pre­sence of the Invo­tec team and the Hahn Group. We’re here rea­dy to do the work.”

The com­pa­ny works with its cus­to­mers as a trus­ted part­ner that pays care­ful atten­ti­on to every detail. To help a cus­to­mer deci­de what they need, Invo­tec initi­al­ly iden­ti­fies a few key are­as to dis­cuss. It inqui­res about the desi­red loca­ti­on of the final equip­ment, work­for­ce needs, time­frame, bud­get, and expec­ted return on invest­ment, and it con­si­ders the lifecy­cle of the equip­ment to see if it will need to chan­ge in the next few years.

Invo­tec is rea­dy to take char­ge of the medi­cal device manu­fac­tu­ring indus­try and expand its capa­ci­ty to ser­ve its cus­to­mers with growth goals in both sales num­bers and per­son­nel. “Soo­ner is always bet­ter in a rapidly-chan­ging indus­try, so the soo­ner we can add more peop­le, the bet­ter off we’ll be,” said Ste­ve.

The Brook­lyn Park, Min­ne­so­ta faci­li­ty is ope­ra­tio­nal and needs more staff as soon as pos­si­ble. The new ope­ra­ti­on is alrea­dy backed by the signi­fi­cant expe­ri­ence of its cur­rent employees, its parent com­pa­ny, and over twen­ty-five years of prac­ti­ce in Day­ton, Ohio. Invo­tec wel­co­mes anyo­ne inte­res­ted to visit the faci­li­ty and expe­ri­ence what it has to offer.

We’­re new in Min­ne­so­ta, but we’­re not a start-up,” said Ste­ve. “We’­re here with the full pre­sence of the Invo­tec team and the Hahn Group. We’re here rea­dy to do the work.”

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