Reimagining the Wheel: Adding new technology to an old process
By: Alexandria Mason
March 25, 2021
The old saying suggests never reinventing the wheel, but what about reimagining it?
That’s what Biocut Systems has done with their latest project the debridement wheel, a tool that removes excess material from bone. Quintessential to the Biocut brand, customer pain points motivated the team to find a way to use different technologies to assist clients in a once labor intensive process.
For context, in order to remove body tissue from the bone, a debridement wheel operator must bring the bone to the wheel and move the bone around until all of the excess material is removed. As simple as it sounds, it frequently poses physical pain to the operators assigned the task.
“It’s been described to me that if [operators] don’t do it for even a week, they have to work back into it because it takes so much muscle in your arm. And then over time, you have a tendency of carpal tunnel and other physical issues,” said manufacturing engineer Steve Puffpaff.
“One of the things that Steve and the team had come up with was having a steady rest, which was amazing because it allows you to not have to fight against the wheel for the bone to get clean,” said business development associate Anjie Peck. “It helps hold it into place, which makes it just a lot easier on the operators. So even in terms of functionality, it works a lot better. It’s not scarring the bone and it is completely debriding it”.
Another concern of clients included the messiness of the debridement process.
“The problem that exists currently with the machines that are out there is the operators have to wear face shields because the material that’s removed is flung back to their faces. So then as the material builds up, they’ve got to stop to clear [their shield] because they can’t see anymore. It’s a danger in that respect,” explained Puffpaff.
Biocut engineers have remedied this “splatter zone” with shrouding that better controls shredded material, as well as further protects operators from possible cutting injuries. These traits, in addition to an easy set up and simple tools that can be cleaned and sterilized, are the tangible results of client-driven modifications implemented over the course of six months.
“Whether it was with people that didn’t have any tools in place and that were doing it by hand, or the people that were using the current tools, the biggest thing was gaining input,” said Peck.
And while there is always room for improvement as new challenges may arise, for Puffpaff, there is nothing left on the table.
“I can’t say that about many products…I can’t think of one thing that I would want to change about it, but it was also a process of being able to have that time. This is a rare project where I was given a solid six months to work it through,” said Puffpaff. “You have to make sure that it actually functions the way it’s supposed to. And that it touches all the bullet points that are needed.”
The work doesn’t stop at the prototype, however. It’s a partnership that continues to build on customer desire and make further improvements down the line for easier manufacturing and use.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel so to speak,” said Peck. “We want to improve current processes.”