Book a Factory Tour! Learn how to spot the makers from the fakers.
We believe it is important that customers know the real origin of their surgical instruments. That is why we have an open-door policy, with full transparency.
Companies who sell Surgical Instruments are usually either original manufacturers or own brand labellers.
An original manufacturer is self explanatory. These surgical instruments are actually manufactured by the company who is selling them. They will have a physical manufacturing facility that you should be able to visit. Platts & Nisbett is an original manufacturer.
An own brand labeller is a company who buys surgical instruments from an original manufacturer, and then sells it on under their own brand. These are basically supply companies with a sales force.
Both of these routes to market are fine, and upcoming regulatory changes in 2020 should make the whole system clearer for end users.
The confusion can start when a company implies they are the original manufacturer – when in fact they are an own brand labeller. You may think these surgical instruments are manufactured by themselves, but they may be purchased from elsewhere (including both UK and overseas) and simply rebranded and repackaged. This can be quite misleading to the end user, so it’s important to know what to look for.
The only way to be confident that the instruments are being made at a company, is to visit it yourself. So how do you know the real makers? Read on to learn about the tell tale signs, which only real manufacturers can show you.
Firstly, ask to see the raw materials. These come in the form of Stainless Steel Bars, Sheets, Forgings etc. Then follow the paper trail and look at the stainless steel certificates. These are from the original steel mill, and show the chemical composition of the metal. This gives a good indication of the authenticity, and all original manufacturers should hold these.
Then it is important to see how a product is made, see it come to life. Look for the teeth being hand filed on cardiovascular clamps, watch how self retaining retractor racks and triggers are made. See the actual assembly / filing & fitting of the product prior to the finishing processes such as polishing and bead blasting. That is how you can tell who the authentic surgical instrument makers are.
If you have ever visited a manufacturer who shows repairs, or polishing, ask yourself if you think they actually made the product. Or did they just unpack a box from a supplier, and then show you someone polishing an instrument from another manufacturer? Can you see instruments in the early stages, not just ones ready for finishing?
Assess the manufacturing environment. Do the machines look like they are used? Can you smell the unmistakeable aroma of stainless steel and oil? Can you see craftsmen at work benches using traditional hand tools such as hammers and files?
Understanding your supply chain is vital when it comes to purchasing your surgical instruments, and there are various options and routes to market available.
Products can be bought directly from Platts & Nisbett, the original manufacturer, and this is a cost effective way to purchase.
For our Company and the end users, full transparency can only be a good thing. We have invested heavily in our Quality System and Apprenticeship programme over many years, and believe our stance on only selling high quality, fully traceable surgical instruments will stand us in good stead.
This week we welcomed groups from Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust to our manufacturing facility, to show them real British Manufacturing.
Our factory tours are highly recommended, and are a real eye opener to SSD Staff, Theatre Staff, Procurement, Surgeons, Nurses etc. The groups we met this week were enthusiastic to learn more about the manufacture of British Surgical Instruments. The knowledge they gained during these training days will help them carry out their daily tasks in SSD, and give them an appreciation of how much work goes into a high quality surgical instrument.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to book a place on one of our factory tours.