Minimally Invasive Surgery comes from Swiss precision at Greatbatch Medical
Greatbatch was founded in 1970 in Buffalo, New York, by Wilson Greatbatch who was one of the two inventors of the implantable pacemaker. Until 2007, Greatbatch, a listed company on the New York Stock Exchange, dedicated most of its activities to industrial batteries, those needed for implantable cardiac surgery as well as the high-tech batteries for space and oil industry. In 2009, its sales exceeded half a billion dollars, of which 130 million came from its orthopaedic unit alone. All together, the group employs more than 3300 employees, among which 800 belong to the orthopaedic division.
Thanks to numerous patents for batteries used in pacemakers and defibrillators, Greatbatch has become the leader in this field with products that cover over 70% of that market. Three years ago, the Board of Directors decided to extend Greatbatch’s activities in medtech and acquired Precimed SA, a Swiss company that had built leadership in instruments used in orthopaedic surgery.A golden nugget in the mountains of the Bernese Jura
Greatbatch Medical (formerly Precimed) designs and manufactures surgical instruments since 1994. Built on the high precision legacy of the Swiss watchmaking industry, Greatbatch Medical rapidly became a leading OEM supplier of orthopaedic instrumentation, be it for traumatology or for hip, knee, shoulder and spine surgery.
Greatbatch Medical has a Business to Business approach in its niche market. The company’s reach is worldwide with competence centres both in Europe and the United States. Its French manufacturing unit is specialised in prosthesis and is able to offer all the steps of a production line, from manufacture of a prototype to sterilised packaging. In the US the focus is on the design and manufacturing of a full range of sterilisable trays and cases. At Greatbatch Medical, the word innovation has a meaning. Thanks to different patents of global impact, we have been able to manufacture a wide range of standard products, highly appreciated by our business partners. Likewise, our technological expertise is essential for the development of specific products, created in close cooperation with our customers. All these factors have largely contributed to the international reputation of the company.
Greatbatch Medical intends to improve surgical techniques in order to ensure safety to the patient and optimal design to the surgeon. Reductions both in surgery time and convalescence period, as well as lower contamination risks, increased surgical precision and better handling of surgical instruments are keys to our success.
MANUFACTURING From components passivation to laser cutting, processes are constantly improved.
Small is beautiful
On our two sites in Switzerland, located in Orvin and Corgémont in the Bernese Jura and where more than 200 people work, we are able to offer our services from concept to production. The R&D department in Orvin is one of the two technology centres of the Orthopaedic Division of the group. Every day, more than 20 engineers and technicians focus on the development of orthopaedic surgical devices. Some projects are carried out in close cooperation with Swiss technical schools. Due to the excellence and density of the universities in applied sciences in Switzerland, it is more than essential that the Greatbatch Group keeps a R&D department in the area. As a matter of fact, it is considered crucial for the future of the company. Greatbatch spends about 8% of its revenues in R&D and this will only increase. Our field needs constant innovation indeed. Surgeons are very demanding clients. They continually want to improve the quality of their work and are always concerned with the well-being of their patients.
In recent years, a new surgical technique was developed in orthopaedic procedures called minimally invasive surgery. It allows implanting a hip prosthesis within a small incision of 6 to 8 cm, as opposed to 20 to 30 cm in the conventional procedure. To achieve this, a surgeon needs specific tools. This is our mission. Our job is to understand the targeted surgery and then to submit a variety of instruments to make it possible. Each instrument must meet very strict rules. The “cleanability” and the safety of the instruments are just two among many other aspects that we are asked to comply with in order to market any new device. We must never forget that at the end of a surgeon’s hand, there is a person. As the saying goes, the patient lives with his implant and the surgeon with his instruments...
The orthopaedics market increases 10% to 15% annually. In order to follow this expansion, Greatbatch Medical is not only investing in research and development but in the quality of its production. This means that we must constantly improve and optimize our manufacturing processes while meeting the high quality requirements of our customers. The human factor is also essential to the growth of the company. Greatbatch has always sought to create a work environment in which its employees have legitimacy and feel appreciated.
In this context, our potential relocation to a single production site in Switzerland makes sense for an industrial group wishing to have roots in a region rich in know-how and technical skills inherited from generations past.