Sat, 29/11/2014 - 14:38
Current Issue 54
Advancing Healthcare Technology
Hutz has seen its medical lighting and equipment become exclusively used in several hospitals across South Africa, testament to their full understanding of the requirements of the African market
Writer Emily Jarvis
Project Manager Serge Utting
Founded by Wolfgang Hutz 40 years ago, Hutz Medical has grown from its roots as a manufacturer of architectural light fittings, to a market leader in hospital equipment, synonymous with quality and innovation; underpinned by the implementation of the best practical technologies available and always with the end-user in mind. “15 years after our establishment - and after considerable research of course - we added a full range of hospital products to our offering and have not looked back since,” says Bernd Thurnher, Executive Director of Hutz Medical. “Moreover, our equipment has been specially developed in consultation with healthcare professionals, enabling us to create user-friendly and innovative equipment tailored to the care giver,” he proudly adds.
It is a known fact in South Africa that Hutz products are as durable as they are technically advanced, which not only makes them desirable but it also means they are ideal for export to the rest of Africa and beyond. These products consist of four different groups of medical devices including; medical examination lighting, bedhead supply systems, pendant supply systems and theatre control panels. Additionally, the company made the conscious choice to manage their supply chain internally, which allows them full control over all processes of their operation.
What makes Hutz Medical such a prominent company in the medical manufacturing field in South Africa is their comprehensive understanding of the African markets. Originally from Austria, but based in South Africa for over 30 years, Thurnher has the knowledge and tenacity to drive the company forward and is backed by a strong team totalling 110 staffs: “Through continuous market research - including attending international exhibitions and extended interactions with our clients - Hutz are able to provide customised solutions through our product offering. Our company vision is closely linked with this as we aim to expand our product range and keep working on the best solutions for service supply systems and device support systems in South Africa.”
As an offshoot of this, Thurnher says that one of the main reasons Hutz has seen great success over the last decade and a half has been due to the tailored end-to-end experience that clients receive when partnered with them. “Our success is based on the total experience our client receives from us. This starts from the time an enquiry is received to the time the goods are installed and commissioned, right through to the follow up where we make sure the end-user is satisfied that the product delivered meets – and hopefully exceeds – expectations,” explains Thurnher. Consequently, the Hutz brand has become wellrecognised for even the most demanding medical equipments.
What’s interesting about the South African medical market in general is that even though there are distinctive parallels between it and the European market, Thurnher says the African market still remains unique in terms of product requirements: “By this I mean that clients look for durability – how long will it last for and does it last longer than a competitor’s product? Is it vandal proof? How easy is the product to use? Does this ease of use in any way inhibit the user’s performance? Lastly, all these factors add up to deciding whether the product is cost-effective,” he ponders then continues: “As market leader it has become our responsibility to set a standard in our industry and educate our customers on the importance of complying with national and international standards. We set the bar high and want to teach others how to get there.”
HUGO Examination Light
The new HUGO examination light is Hutz’ single biggest investment, in terms of both time and money, to date. This innovative product took over five years in the developmental stages and is now ready to be introduced to the medical market not only in South Africa, but also overseas. Thurnher is thrilled at what this means for Hutz and their future in Europe: “The HUGO examination light is the reason that we established an office in France as we are planning to distribute this light from there and reach the European market. This will be our first venture into Europe, and it promises to be an exciting one.” The light is available in all versions ranging from a desk, wall, pole, rail ceiling or as a mobile unit and is based on the latest power efficient LED technology, providing an illumination of 50.000 lux, which not only meets the international standard, but exceeds it. A very innovative friction knuckle (SA patent application No2014/01508) allows for an effortless positioning of the light. “In line with the Hutz philosophy, the light is designed with the end-user in mind, but is still a very cost effective solution,” he adds.
Further expansion is on the cards for Hutz as they begin looking at ways to bolster their market share in Africa and increase their local market share by offering additional services as Thurnher surmises: “There is a great need for hospitals and medical facilities here in Africa but the cost to build brand new facilities is obviously very costly and also very time consuming. It is for this reason that we completed a recent case study at the Livingstone Hospital here in Port Elizabeth, where we proved our ability and advantage to refurbish this exiting facility. In addition to providing a place which complies with the latest standards, in turn instilling confidence in the patient and caregiver, the costs were a fraction of a new facility and created employment for the local community. A win-win situation for all involved!”
Working Your Way to the Top
The healthcare manufacturing industry is a huge market in South Africa. As a result, Hutz are working on doing their part to contribute to up-skilling the labour force. “Even though we are applying the latest manufacturing processes by means of CNC machines, our product assembly lines still rely greatly on manual labour. Subsequently, we select new employees based on their ability problem solving and motor skills and use this as a base to further specific job related training. That way, we can encourage progression past just the basics and as a government-recognised training facility, we can also help disadvantaged people gain work-related skills and training via tasks in electrical wiring and metal work,” emphasises Thurnher. He is now showing the next generation of potential senior leaders that the training being offered can and will make a difference. “I believe in our training as it is not just for the personal development of our employees but it is also for the growth of the company,” highlights Thurnher.
As a dynamic player in the medial manufacturing industry, Hutz will remain quick to react to market opportunities in order to achieve brand recognition and customer satisfaction. Thurnher is enthusiastic and believes in both the company and its products can face any challenge that may be ahead from national and international growth perspectives.