Hospitals around the world are short of nurses, not only in Europe patients are becoming more overweight, surgical techniques are changing. Famed in Żywiec is keeping up with the trends.
The Famed Flare operating table is one of the products of which Famed is particularly proud. Its ultra-thin, completely see-through, floating table top is made of carbon fibre, a material that the aerospace industry, for example, has been using ever since.
– Often when we finish presenting this product, we ask the participants to sit at the end of the tabletop and see for themselves that although it is really ultra-thin, it is also very durable,» says Michał Grossy, product manager at Famed Żywiec.
There is no operating table on the market today that is more perfect in terms of table top parameters and safer for patients and medical staff than Famed FLARE. It allows even 10 percent less radiation to be used during intraoperative diagnostics than the equipment that has led the way so far, which is good for both patients and staff, and doctors are exposed to much more than patients.
– They simply receive a much lower dose of radiation, which is harmful to health, but this does not come at the expense of the quality of the images taken, which is of fundamental importance for X-ray diagnostics,» says Marek Suczyk, vice-president of Famed Żywiec.
Keeping up with trends
The table is designed for minimally invasive surgery and is perfect for cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery, urology, orthopaedics and spine pain management. Not only the table top but also the table base is made of carbon fibre, which has made it possible to achieve the highest stiffness parameters even under maximum load. It also enables comfortable positioning of the patient and easy manoeuvring of the C-arm, i.e. the X-ray device with a boom, which is used, for instance, in intravascular operations involving insertion of a catheter and operation on the basis of a live X-ray image. These are not all the advantages of the table from Żywiec. The table top can be moved by means of a wired remote control or a special joystick, which enables quick correction of patient’s position.
This table was the most important premiere of the company from Żywiec last year. It was tested by a team led by prof. dr hab. n. med. Piotr Kołakowski from the Cardiology Clinic, CMPK, Grochowski Hospital in Warsaw.
– Working with doctors is extremely important to us. We are making this equipment for them. We are not the ones who will be working on it – says Michał Grossy.
It is not without reason that the operating table for minimally invasive surgery has become Famed’s flagship product. The trend all over the world is for the patient to stay in the operating room as short as possible, because every hour of surgery is a cost. It is best to prepare the patient for surgery before he or she enters the operating room, and then to start the procedure as soon as possible. Not only economic considerations are important here. It is better for the patient to be able to get back on their feet and go home as soon as possible after the operation.
– Spinal surgeries, which used to be extensive and disabling surgeries, are now procedures after which the patient can almost immediately get back on his feet. Medicine is changing very fast. Procedures are now being used that we never even dreamed of 20 years ago. The rules of resuscitation alone have changed 6 or 7 times during my lifetime’, says Michał Grossy.
The reality in hospitals is also changing. In institutions, not only in Poland, because hospitals in other countries are also facing this problem, there is a lack of nurses. Hospital beds have to be constructed in such a way that the patient requires as little help from the staff as possible, e.g. when changing position, and if it is necessary, one person should be able to do it. Famed beds such as Famed NEXO and Famed NANO are very popular among orderers. Famed NEXO, developed with maximum patient comfort and safety in mind, is last year’s premiere presented at the Arab Health trade fair in Dubai in February.
Obesity is already a worldwide problem, with about 500 million people suffering from it. Bariatrics, which helps patients to achieve the appropriate body weight, is developing increasingly well. The Famed HYPERION table, which is manufactured by Famed, is used for such procedures and guarantees a maximum load capacity of 500 kg while maintaining high manoeuvrability. The table top is wide and can be extended with special attachments; you can comfortably place even a very obese patient on it. The table is controlled in several ways.
Famed has developed a brand of a company which cares very much about the quality of its products with a view to patient and staff safety. Most of the components are designed and manufactured on site in Zywiec, very few elements are imported from outside. Of course, all suppliers must go through the Famed certification procedure. Each element is tested in a laboratory both in terms of chemical and physical aspects as well as safety standards. For example, the laboratory tests the reaction of the varnishes with which the products are coated against the disinfectants used by the hospital, with which it will later come into contact. Up to several thousand tests are carried out for a single type of material.
– Every manufacturer of medical equipment wants to stand out in some way. We want to stand out through safety and I think that we managed to achieve that – thinks Michał Grossy.
– It wasn’t that easy because Famed now sells equipment to 97 countries around the world, where safety standards may differ and which have their own procedures and approvals. Their requirements also differ. Facilities in the most developed countries of the world want, for example, beds which can be washed in automatic washing machines under pressure. On the other hand, sometimes it is necessary to prepare disinfection instructions for hospital employees who cannot read and write. We also coped with such a challenge. We prepared pictograms, for which we also made a film, because not everything could be explained in pictures,» recalls Marek Suczyk.
Concern for the environment is also very important to Famed. The manufacturer has reduced the amount of waste for landfilling to a minimum. In 2017, the company generated 187 tons of waste, of which almost 99 percent was reused. They were recycled both internally and by external companies, as well as through other recovery processes. Only 2.3 tons of construction waste generated during renovation work and about 3 tons of municipal waste were sent to landfill.
– Many things that in other companies would be waste in our company are reused. Production plants are associated with environmental nuisance, but we are changing this stereotype. This is the effect of consistent implementation of closed-cycle economy, which Famed has been realizing since the 90s, being one of the pioneers of such good practices – says Marek Suczyk.
Famed also takes care of its image as an employee-friendly company. They commute, among others, from the entire Żywiec and Bielsko-Biała regions. For many families from the region working at Famed is a tradition.
– We have employees whose grandparents have already worked for this company,» says Michał Grossy.
What are Famed’s future plans?
– One of them is the «hundred», i.e. presence in 100 countries around the world. Considering the momentum with which Famed conquers new markets, there should be no problem with that. – However, it is not the most important thing for us. We prefer to have a bigger share in a smaller number of markets. The Central European market is particularly important for us, especially our Polish market. In Poland our equipment is used by dozens of hospitals, including the best clinical establishments’, says Marek Suczyk.
The history of the plant in Żywiec dates back to the 1870s. It began in Zadziele, a village near Żywiec that no longer exists. It was then that a chemical plant started its operations. In 1921 it changed its owner and profile, now under the name Fabryka Mebli Stalowych «Wschód» (East Steel Furniture Factory) it started to produce metal beds and furniture from steel pipes. After World War II, the plant developed, among other things, production for the health service, mainly hospital beds.
Construction of a new plant in the Żywiec area began in 1961. A few years earlier, the Żywiec region had been ravaged by a great flood. The swollen Soła River flooded even the center of Żywiec. A decision was made to tame the river with dams. 1.5 thousand residents of the old Zywiec and Zadiel were displaced, the area was flooded by the waters of the artificial Zywieckie Lake, and the old factory buildings were also submerged.
The building of the new factory was completed in 1964. The following years saw rapid development of the plant. Among other things, production of dental chairs and operating tables began here, the assortment was expanded to include electrically and electrohydraulically driven equipment, such as specialist beds for intensive care units, and operating tables with removable tops were introduced. At the beginning, Famed was the only manufacturer of medical equipment in Poland. Hospital beds were equipped in practically all Polish hospitals.
In 2007, in order to meet all orders, Famed opened a new plant. The investment consumed PLN 25 million, jobs for several hundred people were created. Soon afterwards, a great crisis began in the plant; as a result of misguided investments and poor use of financial tools, between 2008 and 2012 Famed experienced the most difficult period in its history. The company found itself in bankruptcy, and the management was taken over by a trustee. In such conditions Famed Żywiec Sp. z o.o., established in 2013 by an investor who took on the task of restoring the company’s brilliance, started operations.
In the first three years of the new era of Famed, multi-million dollar investments were made, necessary to rebuild an effective team and restore production capacity. Famed was saved by an investment fund, EMSA Capital Fund. As they say in the plant today, the biggest challenge was not at all financial expenses or organizational obstacles. The most difficult task was to rebuild the image, trust in the brand and distribution channels. Fortunately, we managed to do that.