24×7 recently spoke with Mel Roche, president of BC Group, to discuss the company’s business model, how it can alleviate some of the struggles in the health care technology management industry, and some of the new and existing offerings from the company.
24×7: Can you tell me about the history of BC Group?
Roche: Originally, BC Group sold only test equipment manufactured by other companies. Then, in 2000 we began a program of both manufacturing and private-labeling our own products under the now familiar green and gold “BC Biomedical” label.
In January of 2005, Lloyd Industries, the company that engineered and manufactured most of the BC Biomedical brand products, purchased BC Group. This acquisition has provided BC Group with the engineering and manufacturing resources to expand at an even faster pace. BC Group, under the “BC Biomedical” brand, is now one of the largest manufacturers of biomedical test and measurement equipment in the world.
24×7: What services does the company provide?
Roche: Our “One Stop Biomed Shop” theme sums up our business. Our model is to provide, in one location, all of the equipment, tools, and supplies that the biomed community might need. We not only offer an extensive listing of test equipment manufactured by us and our many partners, but we also provide labels, cables, and everything in-between.
We also offer service for all of our equipment, as well as almost every brand of biomedical test equipment. We offer both depot and on-site calibration services. We have calibration exchange programs and extensive asset-management services that we provide through our BC eTEAMS program for customers, both large and small.
24×7: What quality control practices does the company employ?
Roche: BC Group has a major commitment to quality at all levels of our operation. The entire company is both ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 registered. Our ANSI Z540- and ISO 17025:2005-accredited service center is fully traceable to NIST. We are registered with and inspected by the FDA, and follow Good Manufacturing Practices as well as comply with the QSR [Quality Systems Regulation] 21 CFR 820.
24×7: What is the geographic reach of BC Group?
Roche: BC Group is lucky to have a worldwide base of customers from the entire spectrum of the test equipment market. Domestically, we provide sales and service to all 50 states, and internationally, we have active test equipment on all seven continents. We are proud to be partners with some of the largest ISOs in the industry, providing equipment sales, calibration, and asset tracking for their fleets of test equipment. Relationships with major OEMs have continued to expand, as evidenced by our ESU-2400’s new automated PM for the Covidien Force Triad. Our flexibility and dedication to providing the cutting edge of test equipment is opening new doors on a daily basis.
24×7: Has the company seen growth in its international business?
Roche: Our international business continues to expand. With CE on almost the entire BC Biomedical product line and an expanding international dealer network, we are doing well in the world marketplace.
24×7: What are some of the products the company provides?
Roche: Our most exciting product has to be the ESU-2400, the leading-edge system for the PM and calibration of the new generation of electrosurgery units (ESU). This unit is a clear industry leader with measuring accuracy of 1%, measuring range of up to 7000 mA, a noninductive load bank that can be set from 0 to 6400 ohms in 1-ohm steps, and an auto switching front end. We are proud of the automated ESU testing capability, which is easily accessible by the internal operating system and color touch screen.
The new fully validated ESU-2400 automated PM for the Covidien Force Triad takes a PM with over 100 steps and automates it, collects data on every point, ensures that the PM is completely run, and cuts the time required to perform the PM in half. Not only does this unit dramatically improve the potential output of the biomed who uses it, but it ensures compliance with OEM testing requirements. It is also fully upgradeable for products that are not even out yet, helping to future-proof the hundreds of units we already have in the field. Also worth noting is the fact that software upgrades and automated PM programs are available for free.
24×7: How much of your repair offerings are done on-site versus in your facility?
Roche: We offer both on-site and depot service. BC Onsite provides a wide array of services and allows for minimum downtime while maintaining regulatory requirements. BC Depot has an extensive range of capabilities, some of which cannot be performed on-site due to environmental control. Some repairs can be performed both on-site and in our depot, but frequently it is necessary to replace components. When this happens, BC Depot provides an extra service: our ability to resurrect old equipment and obtain obsolete parts—extending product life cycles and sparing our clients’ budget.
24×7: What is the distribution of BC Group’s business between sales and service?
Roche: Sales and service are both integral parts of our operation as one informs the other. Sales provides service opportunities, reveals new capabilities we may need, and keeps service informed about the developments in medical technology that may be the deciding factor in whether or not a repair is cost-effective. Service is one of our primary connections with our customers, allowing for end user feedback that informs sales of product issues, needs in the field, and long-term quality analysis of products that we both manufacture and distribute.
24×7: How has the biomedical test equipment industry changed in the last several years? How has that affected BC Group?
Roche: This is an age of information and automation. Future biomedical test equipment will have much in common with our cell phones, laptops, and so many other aspects of our digital lives. The integration of devices, and more importantly the data that they contain, will continue to be a major push in test equipment. We are working toward bringing the flow of information and the control of instrumentation on a par with consumer-level products.
24×7: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the biomed community today?
Roche: As the complexity of the average piece of medical equipment continues to increase, so does the time and expertise required to maintain it. Biomeds are under constant pressure to do their critical job quickly and with minimal expense while expanding their capabilities to meet expanding facilities and new equipment. Staying ahead of this curve is a daunting task that the men and women in the industry handle well, but they need the right tools for the job.
24×7: Is there anything BC Group can do to alleviate those struggles?
Roche: Ultimately, our mission is to listen to our customers and respond to their needs. Sometimes that means designing and manufacturing a new piece of BC Biomedical test equipment or adding a new line to our BC marketplace product offerings. Alternately, this may involve expanding our BC Depot or Onsite services to meet demand. Through BC eTEAMS we have gone so far as to design entire asset-management programs for some of our major customers.
There’s another important aspect of our “One Stop Biomed Shop” approach—the flip side of the coin, as it were—”one size does not fit all.” We see a wide range of applications for our equipment, and the fact is that you don’t always need all the bells and whistles of the cutting-edge version. We provide complete product families so our customers can buy what they need, be it the latest model tailored for the newest medical technology, or a bare necessities version for a fraction of the cost.
24×7: Do you have any new service or product offerings scheduled for the near future?
Roche: Lately, we’ve been focused on systems development, our quality program, and the expansion of current product capabilities. That being said, our engineers always have a few new projects brewing in R&D [research and development], so while we’re not quite ready to tell you yet, keep watching.
Chris Gaerig is the associate editor of 24×7. Contact him at .