The medical device company invests to bring manufacturing closer to patients.
January 2023 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting
The pandemic and the supply chain crisis exposed vulnerabilities in the healthcare supply chain during the past three years as the U.S. was hit with shortages of critical therapies and medical supplies. International healthcare manufacturers with U.S. customers reassessed their strategies to become more resilient, and reshoring manufacturing back to North America became critical.
B. Braun, an international medical device maker with its global headquarters in Germany, has operated in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania since 1979. It opened its Allentown, Pennsylvania, campus in 1985 and recently expanded there with a more than $200 million, 310,000-square-foot addition. The expansion will add over 200 jobs to B. Braun’s existing 1,500 workforce in Allentown and aims to revolutionize manufacturing of medical devices, including life-sustaining infusion therapy devices to treat millions of patients in the U.S.
“Years before anyone heard of COVID-19 or the supply chain crisis, B. Braun made a commitment to expand its manufacturing capacity in the U.S. by investing more than $1 billion in new and modernized production facilities,” said Jean-Claude Dubacher, chairman and CEO of B. Braun of America Inc., in a statement. “The purpose was to increase the production of healthcare products needed to deliver critical care to patients in the U.S., to keep our manufacturing operations close to our customers and to reduce the potential for future supply disruptions that could put patients at risk.”
U.S. plant commitments
B. Braun’s U.S. commitments were seen across five states – Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Arizona and Texas – as well as in the Dominican Republic.
The recent Pennsylvania expansion nearly doubles B. Braun’s footprint in Allentown, and it includes state-of-the-art digitalization and automation technologies to improve efficiencies and connect all production steps and business processes.
“It will be the medical device plant of the future,” Dubacher said.
In Florida, B. Braun recently opened a 218,000-square-foot pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Daytona Beach. It helps fulfill the manufacturer’s commitment to alleviate intravenous (IV) fluid shortages that have recently disrupted basic medical care delivery in the U.S.
B. Braun’s operations in California have expanded and modernized in recent years, including its pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Irvine. These investments increase and improve the security supply of IV solutions, premixed drugs, antibiotics and nutrition products in strong demand by hospitals and healthcare facilities across the U.S.
Its CAPS® business in Arizona – Central Admixture Pharmacy Services Inc. – has significantly expanded the company’s ability to meet hospital needs for high-quality, safe and readily available sterile compounding drugs, many of which have been in short supply. A 250,000-square-foot 503B sterile compounding outsourcing facility has been recently completed in Phoenix.
And in Texas, B. Braun’s operations in Carrollton are growing. They include investments to modernize and expand the manufacturing and service of automated infusion and pharmacy compounding systems used by U.S. health systems.
STEM education commitments
“We’re incorporating the latest digitalization and automation technologies to operate these smart factories,” Dubacher said. “We need highly skilled craftspeople and technicians. So, we’re investing in our people and partnering with community colleges and technical training schools to improve mechatronics offerings.”
B. Braun is also expanding its apprenticeship programs and promoting STEM education – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – through schools and nonprofit organizations. It has partnerships in Pennsylvania with the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., Pennsylvania Apprenticeship & Training Office and Workforce Board Lehigh Valley. And it’s collaborating with other manufacturers like OraSure, Lutron and Crayola to create a region-wide apprenticeship program that will provide career opportunities for students across the Lehigh Valley region.
“These investments are the building blocks of healthcare in the U.S.,” Dubacher said. “They show that manufacturing in America is alive and well. Most of all, they represent B. Braun’s promise that we will be there for healthcare providers and the millions of patients who depend on our products.”
B. Braun has also recently celebrated the latest expansion of its medical device manufacturing plant in the Dominican Republic. That also allows the manufacturer to increase capacity to manufacture critical IV therapy products and keep the supply chain close to its U.S. customers.
“These investments weren’t easy, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but B. Braun followed through on these commitments and we’re seeing the results emerge across the country,” Dubacher concluded.