Research & Innovation Services

Optimising function and cost of orthopaedic implants

KTA Partnership Development Award

Dept of Mechanical Engineering and DePuy Ltd.

Dr Linda Newnes

“Understanding costs is essential for any business to succeed. At Bath we have years of experience in providing high quality research that offers a real impact to business and society. Working with DePuy engineers in the early stages of their design process, where the majority of costs are built into a product, has offered Dr Mohammad Saravi and myself the opportunity to realise the full potential of our research.”

Dr Linda Newnes, Head of Costing Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering

“There were three major benefits in involving the Bath team. They had high-level costing expertise of a kind we didn’t have in-house. They have a view that draws upon working with many other industries, which can bring new insights into ours. And finally, they could focus on optimisation and offer us ways of managing large volumes of information, which is difficult for us to achieve given our very wide spread of commitments across the company.”

Dr Karen Morton, Principal Engineer, Front End Research Team, DePuy Orthopaedics Worldwide

The challenge

DePuy International Ltd is a leading designer and manufacturer of orthopaedic implants and associated instrumentation, such as used in hip and knee joint replacement surgery.  Historically, the company’s focus has been on excellence in design and manufacture rather than optimising costs.  In the current economic climate, competition from international competitors has become more intense at the same time as eastern markets have opened up a demand for lower cost yet high-quality implants.  DePuy wanted to develop an objective, in-house process that would optimise cost, function and design considerations to reduce costs while still providing a high quality product.

The response

A team in Bath, led by Dr Linda Newnes with Dr Mohammad Saravi as the Knowledge Transfer Fellow, worked with Dr Karen Morton at DePuy to implement a process that produced such optimised solutions.
The process involved drawing upon DePuy’s engineering expertise, surgeons’ needs and expectations, and through consultative and statistical analytical procedures, devising optimal design, function and cost solutions while minimising statistical variance.

Benefits and outcomes

  • The optimisation process has been applied to the new implant and its associated instrumentation.
  • The process gives DePuy staff greater confidence that decisions are being made in a balanced manner using objective, quantitative data.
  • Decision-making is swifter and less prone to influence by a few people with strongly-held views.
  • The process can now be transferred to apply to many DePuy products throughout their life cycle.
  • Given that DePuy provides many tens of thousands of orthopaedic implants each year, the gains from this project offer great potential for social and economic impact, both in emerging and existing markets.

Project team

Dr Linda Newnes, KTA Project Leader, Head of Costing Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dr Mohammad Sarvari, KT Fellow, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dr Karen Morton, Principal Engineer, Front End Research Team, DePuy Orthopaedics Worldwide

Funded by DePuy International Ltd. and the University of Bath’s EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Account.