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Medical device manufacturing in Mexico continues to expand

A picture of a common medical device that monitors heart rate among other things.
13 Jan 2015

Manufacturing in Mexico has become attractive for a wide range of companies. The country offers a lot of logistical benefits that can help organizations save money when importing raw materials needed to produce goods. There are also advantages associated with exporting finished products out of Mexico where they can be purchased on the open market by consumers.

In addition, Mexico also offers companies the added advantage of a labor force that is not only highly skilled, but also technologically trained. These workers put quality above all else. This is apparent when organizations have customer bases that are always satisfied with the items they buy. When you factor in the added bonus of Mexico having a North American Free Trade Agreement and partnerships with 44 countries, as well as organizations being able to circumvent a lot of hurdles simply by using an offshore shelter model, it's no wonder that Mexico has quickly risen up the ranks as one of the most desirable countries for foreign companies to do business in.

Currently, Mexico has an automotive manufacturing industry that is booming. The country also boasts a rapidly expanding aerospace sector, as well as leadership in the production and assembly of goods sold in the consumer electronics industry. However, there is another group of products that is in high demand, one that workers in Mexico have been putting out at a rapid rate: medical equipment and devices.

A medical device that was produced and manufactured in a cost efficient way in a factory in Mexico.Medical device manufacturing in Tijuana has been well established for the better part of 30 years.

Medical manufacturing in Mexico on the rise
As the population of the world continues to expand, so too does the need to make sure that when people get sick, doctors and other medical professionals have the necessary tools to adequately evaluate and treat whatever the ailment may be.

According to Select USA, the U.S. currently holds the distinction of being the world's largest medical device market, with a valuation of $110 billion. By 2016, that number is expected to grow to $133 billion.

"There are more than 40 firms employing approximately 35,000 people producing everything from disposables and stents to pacemaker components." - Gilbert Ulloa, director of economic development at Ayunatiemiento de Tijuana

Some of the devices that are manufactured within this industry are tools and supplies commonly used by dentists, X-ray and other imaging equipment and common surgical and medical components that range from something as small as a hypodermic needles and syringes, to prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs.

These are just a tiny fraction of all of the items that make up the medical manufacturing sector. However, it's readily apparent that doctors, nurses and other individuals working in the health care sector use these items on a daily basis, which means that mass production is a full-time endeavor.

According to a report from Plastics Today, the Baja California region of Mexico, specifically Tijuana, has established itself as the primary hub for competitive manufacturing of medical devices in the country. As many as 70 medical device manufacturing companies have production operations in Baja California. Other states, such as Sonora, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon also manufacture and produce items for use in the medical sector. However, Tijuana is seen as the center of this Mexican industry.

For the better part of 30 years, Tijuana has been producing the tools that doctors, nurses and other medical personnel use in their day-to-day activities.

"Medical device manufacturing started in the 1980s with the establishment of the firm Nellcor, now Covidien," Gibert Ulloa, who serves as director of economic development at Ayunatiemiento de Tijuana, a municipal agency that helps promote investment in Tijuana. "Now, there are more than 40 firms employing approximately 35,000 people producing everything from disposables and stents to pacemaker components."

Currently, Mexico is the world's fifth-largest medical products exporter in the world. Many of these items, once fully assembled, are routinely sent to various countries throughout Latin America as well as the U.S.

A number of medical device companies in America have an offshoring operation established in Mexico. One of which is Phase 2 Medical Manufacturing, based in Rochester, New Hampshire.

Phase 2 opens a new plant in Tijuana
Given that the U.S. is the biggest medical device market in the world, it makes sense that companies operating in this sector would like to keep overhead costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality. This is one of the reasons why many of them look to Mexico as an offshoring destination.

According to a press release, Phase 2 Medical Manufacturing opened a new 30,000 square foot manufacturing operation in Tijuana. This move was done to address the company's growing customer base. The factory will feature two ISO 8 certified clean rooms that will be 3,000 and 2,500 square feet, respectively. This new facility will be used to improve supply chain operations, while ensuring that Phase 2 components will always be of the highest quality.

"The new, near shore plant and our new capabilities in medical injection molding are significant milestones in Phase 2's growing abilities to meet and even exceed our clients expectations, while also attracting new customers seeking high quality contract medical manufacturing," Phase 2's CEO, Adam Prime, said in the press release.

This is yet another example of the benefits gained from companies looking to expand their manufacturing operations to Mexico and take advantage of an already well established production infrastructure.

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