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Re-distributed Manufacturing in Deployed Medical Care Network Plus

A new research project aims to understand how digital manufacturing technology can bring production closer to the point of clinical need or use, enhancing the capability to deliver targeted, immediate and optimised medical care. This form of ‘redistributed manufacturing’ is defined as: "Technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing, particularly with regard to location and scale”.

A new two-year project carried out by a group of academics from universities across the UK, including Dr. Sam Roscoe will investigate the enablers of barriers of redistributed manufacturing in a healthcare context. The aim of the project is to advance the applications of redistributed manufacturing that enhance deployed medical care capability, and increase domestic resilience and expeditionary responsiveness.

Whilst redistributed manufacturing includes the notion of a shift from centralised towards decentralised production, extant research continues to assume a degree of stable environmental conditions and fixed static location (e.g. hospitals/clinics/home) during production

The primary benefit of redistributed manufacturing is its ability to deliver life-saving treatments in mobile medical scenarios, where there is urgent and unforeseen demand in changing and remote locations, such as in response to natural disasters and emergencies (e.g. coronavirus, the Ebola crisis, earthquakes, and recent terrorist attacks), and the rapid treatment of injured military personnel in the field. This often requires a reverse supply chain perspective, starting with the requirement based on patient need.

Methodology

The project prioritizes empirical methodologies including case studies, action research and participant observation.  The project will fund a number of feasibility studies and proof of concept projects on the various aspects of redistributed manufacturing including cell and tissue therapy manufacturing capabilities, clinical fluids manufacturing capabilities, vaccine production, microbiome printing and pharmaceutical printing in home markets and field operations. 

Impact & Outreach

The overall outcome for the research will be the production of real world demonstrators covering both the business and technical aspects of implementing redistributed manufacturing in deployed medical care, bringing the potential to advance the UK's capability in this area, delivering impact to clinicians, practitioners and patients. The research will help shape how the UK Ministry of Defence, prime contractors in the defence sector, emergency and urgent care services and UK Research Council proceed with future R&D investment and resourcing in deployed medical care.

Further Information

The EPSRC funded Re-Distributed Manufacturing in Healthcare Network (RiHN) was launched in Feb 2015. One area of significant research interest identified by RiHN has been the potential value of implementing Re-Distributed Manufacturing approaches in deployed medical care.  

The project is led by a consortium of six universities (University of the West of England, Loughborough, Nottingham, Cambridge, Newcastle & Brunel), representing disciplines from both the social sciences and engineering.


By: Elizabeth Kellingley
Last updated: Wednesday, 11 March 2020

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