The Plovdiv medical equipment company is automating itself to produce the parts it needs
A growing business in a highly regulated sector. The Plovdiv medical equipment manufacturer BTL Industries (part of the Czech BTL), which in 2021 reached a turnover of over BGN 500 million, is dealing with this challenge. The centralized ERP system, which practically covers the entire spectrum of processes, helps to manage the business – from supply to sales. And its upgradeability allows innovations to be made quickly. The company plans to make more and more of the parts it needs itself, which means more new machines and automation of production in the coming years.
All in one system
BTL Industries manages most of its processes with an ERP system – a Czech development. This includes suppliers, services, accounting, contracts, etc. Interestingly, the system has been in use since the company was established more than 15 years ago. However, its success is due to the upgrades that the company is making. “One of its advantages is that we can implement new processes, optimizations and changes extremely quickly,” said production director Veselin Karavasilev. Experts are engaged in this both here and at the headquarters in the Czech Republic. According to Karavasilev, the system is easy to use and every person in the company has access to it at some level. “The ultimate goal of our ERP system is to eliminate all unnecessary processes,” he explained.
The system also allows the carbon footprint to be monitored, but so far this process has not been implemented. “Our main focus right now is our growth and moving into the new plant (the company is building a new factory in Plovdiv where they will move next year), but realistically in the future, tracking our carbon footprint may be a step that we might make,” says Karavasilev.
Specifics of the business
As a manufacturer of medical equipment, the company does full traceability of the entire process – from parts to final assembly of the final product, and the information is kept for a minimum of 10 years. This implies a rather impressive archive, considering that the factory produces 20-30 thousand items per year.
BTL Industries also maintains a register of all product non-conformities that have occurred. Based on this, a risk assessment is made and actions are taken to prevent the problem from occurring again, for which there is a special analysis department.
Due to the specifics of the products that the company manufactures, it does not have an online catalog for orders. Inquiries can be made through the website, and from there the process is taken over by the international sales team, who work directly with customers, making an offer according to specific needs.
During assembly, each device goes through a series of tests that simulate the impact on the patient, with the aim of checking for possible errors. From there, there are two options. “In one case, the system directly evaluates itself and notes whether the tests have been successfully passed. In the other case, it provides information on the basis of which the engineer evaluates the device,” explains Karavasilev. Some of the software for this purpose is internal development, while others are ready-made solutions.
Since the products are not in huge series, BTL Industries has determined that there is no need for robots in production. However, the company has robotic lines that allow a high degree of automation, such as in the metalworking unit. “With the push of a button, the machines perform the entire action of picking up a sheet, cutting it and stacking it,” explained Karavasilev. The introduction of such machines is part of the company’s plans to close the loop, gradually reducing external suppliers and manufacturing the parts it needs in-house.
BTL Industries implements a combination of measures to prevent unplanned production stoppages due to technological problems, and thanks to this there was no such case last year. This is done through good maintenance of key production equipment and even through its duplication. “It’s an expensive pleasure, but sometimes it’s necessary,” commented Karavasilev. In addition, the company considers the broad technological knowledge of their experts as a plus. “They have a large range of qualifications and can cover a large number of activities ie. are flexible enough,” he explained.