Andy manages our robots, ensuring they perform manufacturing tasks efficiently, reliably and to the highest quality standards. We asked him to tell us more about this important role.
What attracted you to orthopaedics?
I like to think that we’re bettering people’s lives. I’ve got family members who have undergone hip and knee replacement surgery, and it’s rewarding to think that you can play a part improving one aspect of the patient’s treatment.
It’s a big responsibility. When you enter the industry, you quickly realise that every product you handle will impact someone’s life.
So that was the reason I started in the industry and what compelled me to return to it after a short leave. Building cars, in comparison, was just too impersonal.
Tell us about your career at Corin
I first heard about Corin through word of mouth. I’d previously worked at Biomet and some of my former colleagues had taken jobs here. Speaking to them, I realised it was a growing company, and that there would be good career prospects.
Change is constant at Corin. I’ve progressed from one role to another as opportunities came up. The team I’m in now, robotics, offers an interesting and fascinating new challenge. It’s also brought me full circle, back to linishing which is where I began my career. There’s been so much to learn, writing programs and reprogramming the standard software.
I had to learn programming: not just the language the robot uses, but how it works. In many ways the language is two-dimensional. You need to watch the robot to understand how it reacts to the belts and the wheels. My previous experience of manual linishing and polishing has been really beneficial in this role.
How do you feel your work reflects on a patient’s treatment?
Linishing involves grinding products to size, then polishing them to give a smoother finish. At Corin, we use the technique to ensure the shape and size of implants is just right, so this role has a very direct impact on patient outcomes.
If I got something wrong the Quality Control team wouldn’t allow it out of the door! But if it did get to the patient, that’s going to affect their life in a negative way and they’re not going to get the comfort they expected.
If we go back 10 or 15 years, my granddad had both his knees replaced, which is a high trauma operation. I remember the physio after it being quite extensive. So, you can imagine that if the implants were poorly linished or manufactured, it would be unbearable.
But, if you get the job right you’re hopefully speeding up the recovery and the physiotherapy to improve the patient’s life.
The robot aids this by allowing replicability. Once programmed, it will do the same thing every time. And the speed is significant, using TriFit™ as an example, which has quite long stem: a human takes six hours to complete a batch, which has 10 pieces. A robot can do that in less than two hours.
How involved with other teams are you?
Far more than I initially expected. When I started with robotics, I remember being surprised in my first meeting that people from so many different departments were there. Everyone’s getting involved to ensure we deliver the best possible products.
Also, when I joined Corin from Honda, it was a bit of a shock to see the CEO and directors walking around. Previously I’d been a number, here everyone’s got an input into the product: from the goods coming in, to checking the product’s right, all the way through to packing. Every individual holds an element of responsibility to ensure high-quality parts are getting to the people that need them.
How are the robot functionalities evolving?
Long-term I can see robots becoming a lot more involved in other processes within the company.
When I was at Honda, you saw robots all over the business. In orthopaedics I think they can do a lot more than we have been using them for, and in time they will. This is especially true as the number of orthopaedic operations continues to increase. We could increase output ten-fold with just a few more robots in place.
This is fairly standard across most sectors. I recently went to the robot manufacturer ABB on a training course and they demonstrated a pick/pack robot built for Amazon’s warehouses. It was massive and could replace several forklift trucks, collecting orders more efficiently and without mistakes. What’s more, if it drops a box there’s no one there to be injured.
Ten years ago, industrial robots were fairly basic. Now they can fold paper or pick things up that humans can’t. They can also scan products. Looking at where we’re going with linishing, you could add a lot of functionality that’s now done by hand - for example integrating a laser microscope that measures the part before it even comes out the robot; similarly laser marking and packing.
How has orthopaedics changed in terms of the amount of robotics used since you’ve been working in it?
It’s changed so much. What you see today is a robot that can do virtually anything a human can. And it’s not just on the robotics side of automation that things have improved. If you look at the CNCs, everything has changed over the last 10, maybe 20 years. The lathes and mills are now bar-fed, so once again you’ve taken the human variability from it.
Robotics will continue to revolutionise orthopaedics for better patient outcomes. It’s really exciting to be working at the forefront of this with Corin.
Corin is revolutionising orthopaedics by gaining, understanding and sharing insight at every stage of the arthroplasty experience. This unique combination of shared knowledge and our clinically-proven implants delivers better outcomes for everyone. Find out more about our connected orthopaedic solutions at: https://www.coringroup.com/uk/solutions/