Dear Yves Köth, today we want to talk about insufflators, a particularly important product group of WOM. As a project manager, you have a key influence on the further development of this technology.
But first off: What is an insufflator and what are its uses?
An insufflator serves to expand the abdomen with CO2 to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures. For example, if the gallbladder must be removed, previously used procedures required cutting open the abdomen. Nowadays the same operation is performed with only a few small incisions. This is much easier on the patient.
WOM has just developed a new generation of insufflators – what is so special about this technology and what is its use?
The new platform outperforms the previous one in many areas. We have integrated many new functions that help the patient as well as the surgical staff. The physician can now warm and humidify the insufflated gas by using the corresponding tube set. This helps, in particular, against excessive drying out or cooling of the patient. We also installed an integrated surgical smoke gas evacuation system. Surgical smoke gas is a major problem in laparoscopy or abdominal endoscopy, as it is sometimes called. It is caused by the electrical instruments used for cutting and cauterizing. As soon as smoke is in the abdomen, it is like driving on the freeway in heavy fog with a visibility of only a few yards. This is why the new series of insufflators can extract these surgical smoke gases independently. Of course, this process is controlled so that the pressure in the abdomen is always constant.
Another highlight is the new gas heating, which produces an extremely constant gas output temperature. The development was a highlight because we worked with a HiL system analogous to the automotive industry for the first time. At the same time, we were able to construct the complex software controller in parallel to the development of the heating tube set.
What exactly is HiL?
HiL is the abbreviation for “hardware in the loop” and means that one starts with the testing and securing of systems while still being developed – this means simultaneous and efficient working.
Were there any other improvements?
One of the biggest innovations is under the hood. The new processors on the main board required a change of the operating system and the entire software architecture above it. We now have enough power to solve future challenging problems with this platform as well.
This sounds like a great innovation:
Is this the reason why customers choose WOM? WOM, with its insufflators, is the world market leader in the field of laparoscopy.
Innovative power is enormously important. Today, it is not so much about inventing technical refinements, but rather about generating real added value. This can, of course, deliver a direct patient benefit, for example, a more gentle surgical procedure. But also better usability in the OR or the support of logistics through new concepts are a part of this. We are investing heavily in WOM in order to establish a strong culture of innovation. Only through constant innovations will we continue to be at the forefront in our industry.
How important are quality and reliability of insufflators in surgery?
During audits with our large customers, quality and reliability play the most important role and have a top priority for us as a medical technology manufacturer. Performance comes right afterwards.
And what was special about this project for you personally?
It is always a great moment when the developed product is used for the first time in real-time operation. The development takes many years and, of course, the product is thoroughly tested. Nevertheless, one is excited during first use, after all, it is then about people and not a quality management test. If the operation is successful and there is positive feedback from the physician and the nurses, then that is simply a great feeling.
What attracts you to your job?
Above all, the variety. No two projects are alike. We always develop together with large, globally positioned suppliers. Already the cooperation with these mostly American or German companies is more than exciting. And the implementation of the challenges is simply fun. Especially if you can rely on such a powerful team as we have here at WOM. I’m already looking forward to the next projects.
The questions were asked by Xenia Rabe-Lehmann.