DeVilbiss responds to demand

Friday, September 26, 2014

SOMERSET, Pa. – DeVilbiss Healthcare has ramped up the workforce at its manufacturing facility here by 20% to meet increased demand for its products, the company announced Sept. 25.

DeVilbiss has also increased its manufacturing hours from 12 to 16 hours a day with two eight-hour shifts.

“This is certainly the biggest increase in workforce that DeVilbiss has made in the past 10 years,” said Ed Murphy, president and CEO.

DeVilbiss has hired 33 assemblers and a manufacturing supervisor, three manufacturing engineers and a technician, and three quality engineers and two technicians. The hourly workforce now stands at about 110.

Behind the increase in demand for DeVilbiss products: A movement in the HME industry toward more expensive, but higher quality products, Murphy says.

“Where dealers are squeezed so hard on reimbursement, they’re looking more at the total costs of the products they buy,” he said. “The cost of product failure is astronomical. Even if a product is under free warranty repair, it will cost the provider $75 to $100 to pick up the equipment, bring it back to the warehouse, ship it to the manufacturer. It costs a lot, and it’s a pain.”

Since 2013, DeVilbiss has been manufacturing all of its products in the United States, a move that has allowed the company to not only keep closer tabs on quality but also increase its overall efforts in this area, Murphy says.

“In China, if you have someone put a meter on a product, read it and put the information into a computer, you introduce five potential sources of error,” he said. “In the U.S., we can have an automatic testing station that eliminates the labor component of the test and the sources of error, and increases reliability.”

So how much of an issue is reliability for, says, concentrators, anyway?

“Concentrators are complicated,” Murphy said. “A few years back, all of the manufacturers went too far trying to cut cost out of the product in reaction to what the market was looking for. At a certain point, you can’t reduce the cost anymore. You need to make sure you’re maintaining the quality and safety factors that allow the product to withstand a little more abuse.”

Murphy says DeVilbiss’ concentrators are a good example of the increase in demand the company has seen.

“When we moved our concentrators back from China, we originally set up two product lines,” he said. “We quickly had to add a third line and now that third line is almost all fully utilized, as well.”

In another recent move to drive demand for its products further, DeVilbiss has added an inside sales force to focus on smaller customers.

“We wanted them to hear from us on a more regular basis.”