SteriPack – Innovating Medical Equipment

We learn how SteriPack has been providing essential tools in the fight against COVID, and beyond.

SteriPack is a flexible and responsive global contract manufacturer of medical devices offering a full suite of integrated product lifecycle solutions. The company can take projects from initial concept, through research, design, development, to manufacture, all the way through to managing the supply and distribution channels.

“SteriPack has the resources and experience to handle the entire product lifecycle process, starting with the design of products, including all the regulatory and quality aspects through to manufacturing, then sterilisation and supply chain,” says Andrew McLean, CEO of SteriPack. “Our customers find it a big advantage that we can manage projects in their entirety.”

In addition to being a one-stop partner solution, SteriPack’s competencies and capabilities have made it the go-to manufacturer for problem-solving.

“The key element that sets us apart is our responsiveness and ability to problem solve quickly,” McLean says. “It has led to the rapid growth SteriPack has experienced over the years, with our ability to genuinely solve problems quickly and efficiently and take away our customer’s pain points.”

A Foundation for Success

It’s this responsiveness and problem-solving capability that attracted various organizations to connect and partner with SteriPack to help in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had several organizations approach us about manufacturing sterile swabs because of our innovative solutions and ability to respond very rapidly,” McLean recalls.

It was new territory for SteriPack, but McLean could immediately see how the company could bring its skillset to the forefront to aid in a solution.

“Prior to the whole COVID pandemic we weren’t manufacturing sterile swabs, but there was a global shortage fast approaching in the swab market for sample collection, so when customers reached out to us, we believed we could help,” McLean explains. “Things have scaled up very rapidly since then. We are now producing well over 100 million swabs a month and shipping wherever there is a need.”

From the initial approach to manufacturing sterile swabs because of a shortage to manufacturing 100 million of them a month is a huge achievement, made possible by the close, long-term relationships SteriPack has built across the supply chain.

“We have outstanding relationships with our equipment and other suppliers, so we could put together a supply chain very rapidly,” McLean says. “We have a highly capable regulatory affairs team who got us CE marking for the swabs in record time. So, from a regulatory, manufacturing, and development perspective, everything came together thanks to our supply chain and the team’s ability to work flawlessly.”

Talking with McLean it’s clear how enthused he is for the sterile swab project as well as a new sample collection product, and its potential applications not just for fighting COVID, but beyond.

“This is a very exciting project for us and the community at large,” he says. “We have developed a new dry swab called XpressCollect™, that allows for a massive reduction in the labour to take samples and also for cost per test to be dramatically lowered. The XpressCollect product acts as both a sample collection and transportation vessel, and the sample is preserved in both hot and cold conditions, solving a lot of limitations with more traditional sample collection options.”

As well as accelerating the time it takes to test and store samples, SteriPack’s product also makes tracking the samples far more straightforward.

“It has 1D and 2D barcodes so the swab can be linked directly to the patient just by scanning it with a smartphone, so patients get their results back quickly,” McLean tells us. “The cost of actually processing the sample is also significantly reduced versus the technology on the marketplace today. So, it has multiple favourable impacts on cost and productivity.”

It’s a product that McLean believes is going to have a real long-term effect on the sector, as he points out, “We think it’s really going to make a big impact in the marketplace, allowing for highly accurate testing of large numbers of people for COVID and other viruses in an efficient yet cost-effective manner.”

A Problem-Solving Attitude

While SteriPack’s partnerships and supply chain have been invaluable in making this happen, McLean is also keen to point to the importance of having a skilled and dedicated staff working on the project.

“I think it starts with skilled capabilities and experience. But one of the distinguishing factors is our employees’ attitude which shines through in problem-solving and getting things done,” he says. “This swab, XpressCollect, we only started designing that in the last week of October 2020. We had it designed, developed, manufactured and in trials by the first week of January 2021. That shows the speed of design, development, getting tooling manufactured, injection moulds all done and completed, assembling packaging, sterilising the product. We did it all in record time and it worked as intended.”

Finding a team capable of that requires a rigorous process of finding the right people.

“Sometimes we already know people, sometimes we work with recruitment partners, but it comes down to clearly briefing whoever does the recruitment on the skillsets required and the type of individual we’re after from an attitude perspective,” McLean says. “If you get that right, a lot of other things fall into place.”

SteriPack has already achieved a lot and is looking to achieve even more, but to do that requires a process of carefully planned and managed growth.

“Like many other companies the challenges we face are ‘How do you position yourself for ongoing growth?’, ‘How do you continue to scale and grow?’ and a key challenge we’ve coped with well is our ability to grow and scale very quickly without making mistakes in terms of quality or compromising our manufacturing processes,” McLean says. “When we look at how we’ve grown over the years it’s really been quite rapid and it’s a tribute to the staff how we’ve grown quickly but quality and customer satisfaction levels have remained high. We’ve done it very smoothly and very gracefully.”

The latest chapter in SteriPack’s growth story has been the acquisition of HS Design, enhancing its capabilities around design and development.

“We’re continuing to grow by offering a seamless service from design, development and human factors engineering and research into products,” McLean says.

He’s also excited because of a new clinical trial, announced by Doctor Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor for the US President.

“The Covid U trial will study 12,000 university students and our product is the collection and transportation vessel for that highly prestigious study, which shows the efficacy of the product,” McLean tells us.

Another area of potential is SteriPack’s diagnostic business.

“We think our diagnostic business will continue to grow strongly because we have a great offering at the moment, with XpressCollect expected to also enable testing for Flu A&B, TB, pharmacogenetic testing and female STIs as well as COVID,” McLean says.

Across all these sectors, SteriPack’s responsiveness and innovation look to take them to great places.

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