by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief | August 22, 2022
From the August 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
“One best practice for extending the life of a CT tube is adjusting exam protocols, which is a valuable way to optimize equipment use and scheduling without impacting image quality and clinical value,” said Stoeckmann. “For example, by optimizing CT protocols, radiology departments can minimize stress on the tube and reduce cooling between exams.”
Supply chain challenges and repercussions
Logistics issues have hampered the CT tube market in recent years. Throughout the pandemic there was more demand for CT tubes than could be met, resulting in a backlog that experts hope may now be starting to ease. It isn’t just the complete tubes that have become scarce, but the ingredients that go into creating them.
“Besides logistic moving around the world, many raw material prices have gone through the roof and are becoming harder and harder to get,” says Fitzgerald. “In some cases, cost of components went up 40-50%, whether or not prices come back down to Earth remains to be seen.”
As part of this supply chain disruption, scanner manufacturers are having trouble accessing the chips necessary for their new technology, which has boosted interest in the pre-owned market, according to Fitzgerald. Consequently, scanners that previously might have been stripped for parts have found new life in outpatient centers or rural hospitals, leaving fewer pre-owned parts available for harvesting.
In other words, it’s all demand and no supply. This state of affairs if forcing tube manufacturers to start thinking differently in order to remain competitive.
“One solution we’ve found to mitigating supply chain-related issues is consistent recycling of components and raw materials,” said Dunlee’s Stoeckmann. “In addition, a future-oriented and cross-platform product design is critical.”
Going where you’re needed most
One way that tube manufacturers are pivoting to address these challenges is by expanding their presence in new markets. That can mean receiving certification to do business in a new country or bringing manufacturing capabilities into a new, strategic location.
X-Ray America is building an X-ray tube manufacturing facility that will utilize IAE technology and quality. IAE will continue to supply OEMs with tubes directly from their manufacturing facility in Italy, says Hurlock, while the U.S. distributor will manufacture and hold inventory for the just-in-time needs of the service industry.
Richardson is also expanding its footprint. By becoming MDSAP-compliant and registering with the Canada Health Ministry as a medical device manufacturer, the company can now sell new replacement tubes into Canada.