Stryker Orthopaedics

Stryker provides the right support

When Dr Homer Stryker, an orthopaedic surgeon from Kalamazoo, Michigan, found that certain medical products were not meeting his patients’ needs, he decided to invent new ones.

As interest in these products grew, Dr. Stryker decided to establish a company in 1941 to produce them. The company’s goal was to help patients lead healthier, more active lives through products and services that make surgery and recovery simpler, faster and more effective.

Today, Stryker Corporation is a global leader in the medical technology industry that consistently delivers exceptional results. “With a significant turnover of $6 billion a year, we are one of the largest players in the $28.6 billion worldwide orthopaedic market and our products not only improve medical professionals’ lives but also patients’ lives in over 120 countries,” states Gerry McDonnell, vice president and general manager of Stryker Orthopaedics Ireland.

Stryker is divided into a number of divisions, with the key ones being spine, medsurg, international, biotech and orthopaedics. Speaking about the orthopaedics segment, Gerry comments: “We provide the broadest range of products and services in the orthopaedic industry. In 2007, our orthopaedic products, yielded approximately $3.5 billion in sales, making up 58 per cent of the company’s total business.

“In Ireland we have two orthopaedic manufacturing sites – the 120,000 sq ft plant in Limerick was opened in 1972 and employs 520 people, while the Cork plant was opened in 1998 with 340 people working on the 110,000 sq ft site today. The key products manufactured at Limerick are our knee systems and bio material products that include bone cement and bone substitute, whereas we focus on hip systems at Cork.”

Serving the global market, a substantial portion of Stryker Orthopaedic Ireland’s products are distributed to major markets like the US, across Europe including the UK, Germany, France and Italy, as well as Asian markets such as Japan, China and South Korea and not forgetting Canada and South America.

As a pioneer in wear performance technologies, Stryker Orthopaedics is dedicated to the continual development of innovative technologies to help surgeons’ and patients’ needs. For example, the scientists at Stryker Orthopaedics have developed a breakthrough in this area with its X3 Advanced Bearing Technology – a polyethylene bearing material that has shown excellent wear characteristics while preserving mechanical strength in lab testing. “This is Stryker’s proprietary product, which we’re using in our polyethylene products in both our plants. This technology reduces wear and improves strength as well as oxidation resistance,” explains Gerry.

Highlighting other recent product launches, he continues: “We have also recently launched our Triathlon Partial Knee Resurfacing (PKR) system targeting active patients suffering from knee pain giving them an alternative to total knee replacement surgery. PKR or unicompartmental knee replacement as it sometimes known, allows a surgeon to resurface only the diseased or damaged areas of a knee rather than having to replace the entire joint.

“Triathlon PKR, developed by Stryker Orthopaedics, enables osteoarthritis sufferers to undergo treatment earlier in the disease process and return to their active lifestyles. Partial knee resurfacing, when used in conjunction with a minimally invasive surgical approach, typically reduces soft tissue trauma and may result in faster healing and a shorter hospital stay when compared to total knee replacement surgery. In some cases, PKR may even be done on an outpatient basis,” explains Gerry. “This product has been exceptionally popular with our customers and has been in high demand from the surgeon community. ”

Utilising Stryker’s X3 Advanced Bearing Technology, Triathlon PKR is the industry’s only partial knee resurfacing product with highly crosslinked polyethylene. X3 is known for its strength and ability to bear weight, which has demonstrated up to a 96 per cent decrease in wear in laboratory testing compared to competitive products.

“What sets us apart from our competitors?” Gerry asks. “Apart from our groundbreaking innovations and solutions, quality is our number one priority. We are governed by strict regulations including the FDA, ISO and BSI, not forgetting other regulatory bodies across the globe. It is a very strict regulated environment that we operate in, which is why we dedicate a significant portion of our resources to developing and implementing our quality plans. Our investment programme is continuous and we invest on a yearly basis across the board in our quality systems, our people, machining capabilities and automation technology. Recently we injected a multi-million dollar investment into converting our base plate line in Limerick into one that is fully automated. This is vital to our manufacturing process and it is now able to operate 24/7 with minimal intervention. Furthermore, we invested significantly in an automated plasma spray process in Cork, the first of its kind in Stryker and it is now seen as the benchmark for such processes.”

Gerry concludes: “Looking to the future of the Irish operation, I would certainly like to see that we continue to invest in new and automated technology. We will also invest heavily in higherend jobs and establish strong and new product development capabilities in the future with an exceptionally qualified team of people.”

Stryker Orthopaedics

Products: Orthopaedic solutions
Sites: Limerick and Cork in Ireland
Employees: 860