19 January 2024

The importance of local and agile medtech manufacturing

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Melbourne based manufacturer, DentaLife, has been producing best-in-class dental and medical supplies for over two decades. In the midst of the global pandemic, they saw an opportunity for their disinfectant technology in the medical space and scaled up to support Australia’s needs, highlighting the importance of a healthy and agile local supply chain.

DentaLife recently invited Industry Capability Network Victoria (ICN Victoria) and the Australian Medtech Manufacturing Centre (AMMC) for a guided tour of their manufacturing facility in Melbourne. By working with ICN Victoria and AMMC, DentaLife is tapping into the Victorian Government’s knowledge and investment into medical technologies, leveraging the Local Jobs First policy and ICN Victoria’s commitment to helping local win.

ICN Victoria connects local Victorian business to projects and networking opportunities, activating fair opportunity for SMEs to compete for work on major projects. AMMC is a $20m Victorian Government initiative, set up to support the Victorian medtech sector.

DentaLife Managing Director, Tom Stray, recently hosted ICN Victoria and AMMC for a guided tour of DentaLife’s manufacturing facility.

For nearly a quarter of a century, DentaLife has supplied dental and healthcare organisations with the highest-grade dental and medical supplies. All of which are locally developed and manufactured in Melbourne.

At the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of disinfectant wipes became more prevalent in our daily lives. Importing restrictions and supply chain issues drastically reduced the supply of disinfectant wipes across the country. To meet skyrocketing demands, the market turned to locally designed and produced products.

With decades of manufacturing knowledge and experience to draw on, DentaLife seized the opportunity. In a short time, they had converted a small warehouse in Melbourne’s east into a fully operational manufacturing facility.

It wasn’t long before DentaLife was supplying disinfectant wipes to some of Australia’s most recognizable organisations, including Woolworths supermarkets.

DentaLife Managing Director, Tom Stray, believes DentaLife’s successful venture into the manufacture of disinfectant wipes is a perfect illustration of the importance of a local supply chain.

“Supporting local supply chains is really critical,” he said.

“When there was a big disruption to the market, a lot of the local manufacturers were the ones who came to the party and supported what was needed for Australia to keep running.”

ICN Victoria Industry Engagement Manager, Katherine Smith; Director of AMMC, Shelley Jackson; DentaLife Operations Manager, Judith Raj; ICN Victoria Medtech Industry Adviser, Dr Craig Neylon; DentaLife Sales and Marketing Manager, Josephine Kelly; and DentaLife Managing Director, Tom Stray.

Tom explains, “when there is a lack of product in the market, it’s not really the lack of raw material that is the problem, it’s that the demand is so much higher.”

“Global companies make a choice as to where and who they supply to. It is therefore critical that Australia supports businesses that will support Australia in tough times. This is where Australian SMEs in particular become critical.”

Dr Craig Neylon is ICN Victoria’s first medtech industry adviser, funded by AMMC to strengthen supply chain capability and provide manufacturing opportunities for local medtech companies. Craig first met Josephine Kelly, DentaLife’s sales manager, at the 2022 Australian Healthcare Week in Sydney and have been engaging in development opportunities ever since. DentaLife were therefore one of the first companies Craig wanted at ICN Victoria and AMMC’s recent medtech event at the Victorian Manufacturing Showcase 2023, to highlight the growth of local medtech manufacturing.

Since the event, DentaLife Managing Director Tom Stray has facilitated a guided tour of the newly built DentaLife manufacturing facility in Croydon, in Melbourne’s east. In attendance alongside Craig, were ICN Victoria Industry Engagement Manager, Katherine Smith, and AMMC Director, Shelley Jackson, who each enjoyed a first-hand glimpse into DentaLife’s manufacturing process.

To meet the increasing demand for disinfectant wipes, DentaLife set up a controlled-environment flat pack room, which is critical to producing the quality of product that the market needs.

In this environment DentaLife can maintain controlled temperature and ambient atmospheric conditions, to consistently run the machines at optimal efficiency.

DentaLife recently set up a controlled-environment flat pack room, which is critical to producing the quality of product that the market needs.

This unique insight into the manufacturing process offered ICN Victoria and AMMC a better understanding of the challenges that face local medtech suppliers in winning contracts in health.

As a local manufacturer, Tom believes that visits like this only serve to strengthen partnerships and foster collaboration.

“These industry visits are really exciting for us to show what we do and what we’re proud of,” Tom explains.

“It certainly helps with discussions about where we need to go and what we need to do.”

Dr Craig Neylon shares that sentiment, adding that bringing together local manufacturers and leaders from government is the key to sustaining a healthy and active local supply chain.

“By providing local businesses the opportunity to have conversations with government representatives like AMMC, I believe we are closing the gap between small and medium enterprises and policy makers”, he says.

“That is so important when it comes to supporting a healthy medtech ecosystem.”

With a team of industry experts and a broad range of strategic partnerships and collaborations, ICN Victoria paves the way for local businesses to play an integral role in major projects.

If you’re a supplier in the medtech sector and you’d like to use ICN Victoria’s free service to leverage opportunities in health procurement, you can do so by visiting www.icn.org.au/icn_vic/medtech/.

You can also get in touch with Dr Craig Neylon by emailing cneylon@icnvic.org.au.

Learn more about DentaLife, along with many other Victorian medtech suppliers, in the Victorian Medtech Manufacturing Capability Directory, proudly delivered by ICN Victoria in partnership with AMMC. Scan the QR code to get your copy today!

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