Digitally assisted maintenance of medical devices.
Greater efficiency. Increased customer satisfaction.
A joint success story with our customer Carl Zeiss Meditec AG: How can medical device maintenance tools be designed and implemented and how can effective synchronization with parallel further development of the device software be ensured in the process?
Medical technology manufacturers are facing the challenge of offering products and services that meet the highest quality standards, while at the same time having to ensure cost efficiency. In particular, maintenance activities that are closely related to hardware are often highly complex and require a lot of time. However, the use of digital equipment maintenance tools offers the opportunity to reduce this complexity and increase efficiency. This results in potential benefits:
- Accelerated problem resolution can minimize equipment downtime on the customer side
- Quicker service and support can improve customer satisfaction
- Reduced service costs by saving time at on-site visits and repairs can result in greater profitability and competitiveness in the marketplace
What aspects should be considered in the successful design and implementation of such digital maintenance solutions for medical devices?
Our customer Carl Zeiss Meditec AG wanted to provide a digital "tool" for the service staff of the diagnostic device IOLMaster 700, a device for precise eye measurement for specialists in ophthalmology. The aim of the service tool was to simplify complex and time-consuming device maintenance work at the customer's site and to reduce the workload for service personnel. The following overarching goals were to be achieved:
- Usage-centered design: the service tool should provide intuitive and clear instructions and feedback to users and meet the needs of different user groups, such as service technicians and production staff.
- Scalability and reliability: the application must be able to interact with a wide range of medical devices. It should have minimal downtime and errors.
In addition, the following specific requirements should be addressed to increase internal efficiencie
- Reducing the use of multiple tools for service activities
- Keeping information centralized that was previously distributed across multiple systems
- Minimizing error-proneness by reducing the complexity of service procedures
- Shortening customer equipment downtime
- Simplifying targeted repairs and maintenance on individual components
- Use in production units as well as customer service
- Ensuring correct functionality and adjustment of hardware
Benefits for users:
- A one-stop source for information retrieval
- Provision of content based on current context and needs
- Embedded, integrated, and collaborative workflows
- Presentation of detailed and ever-changing information
- Support for recall of previously learned knowledge
This should make the ZEISS IOLMaster 700 service tool a modern, digitalized instrument that significantly increases both maintenance efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Our task was to design and develop the software for the digital toolbox in cooperation with the research and development team at Carl Zeiss Meditec AG.
Our software consulting and development teams have been fully committed to the development of the service tool for the ZEISS IOLMaster 700 and its release cycles for several years. The project focused on the implementation of individual, independent functional units that can be flexibly integrated into various service or manufacturing scenarios. The functional scope of the software was continuously expanded in the course of the product life cycle in close collaboration with the service management and the service engineers of Carl Zeiss Meditec AG.
During the same period, the ZEISS IOLMaster 700 application software was further developed. Because the service tool accesses components of the ZEISS IOLMaster 700 software, coordinating these two interdependent projects presented a challenge. It was therefore important to coordinate and synchronize the parallel further development of the ZEISS IOLMaster 700 medical application with its partially independent release cycles with the service tool. Due to the common basic components used in different applications, close and well-coordinated communication and cross-project coordination was therefore required.
The reliance on hardware-related device developments and the strict regulatory framework of medical technology presented further challenges for the integration of agile elements into the software development process.
To ensure transparency, flexibility and continuous feedback cycles, we maintained close collaboration with the stakeholders of Carl Zeiss Meditec AG. Given the high procedural requirements and stringent quality standards for software in the highly regulated environment, accompanying documentation during development was of crucial importance. In order to meet these high requirements and quality standards, three aspects were given special consideration:
a) Documentation accompanying development
b) High degree of test automation
c) Implementation of product demos supported by documentation accompanying development
Supported by the software and efficient service processes, service technicians can specifically replace individual components of the IOLMaster 700 or carry out necessary repairs and adjustments. The software accompanies them like a digital assistant, provides step-by-step instructions and guides them through the process of a production or service measure. This support makes the complexity of the tasks on the device manageable and comprehensible.
Errors are minimized and system downtime is noticeably reduced as these measures can be performed at the customer's site. Shorter downtimes are ensured through a functioning product and ultimately help enhance the quality of life of cataract patients.
I was impressed at just how quickly the ZEISS Digital Innovation team got to grips with the topic. It was uncharted territory for us all, but the team quickly came up with ideas about how they could optimally design the service workflows. Together, we got a highly innovative solution off the ground that will make service calls at our customers' sites much easier in the future.