Tijuana, Mexico — New Zealand-based Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp. Ltd. has increased manufacturing capabilities in Mexico and expanded Kentucky warehousing.
The firm is a major supplier of respiratory humidification products and also makes continuous-positive-airway-pressure therapy systems and masks for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's primary production site is in the East Tamaki suburb of Auckland in New Zealand.
In 2010, the business established a maquiladora in Tijuana and started transferring substantial plastics processing and product manufacturing technologies to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare SA de CV.
Now, the maquiladora employs about 600 — including one Master Molder 2 and one Master Molder 1 — and manufactures products for the firm's groups focusing on respiratory-acute care and sleep apnea.
Fisher & Paykel leased 200,000 square feet, invested millions in moving toward three Class 8 clean rooms and operates around the clock. The Tijuana facility holds certification under the ISO 13485 quality-management-system standard for medical device manufacturing.
Nearing 69 presses
The plant operates 49 injection molding machines with clamping forces of 60-120 tons and, currently, is adding 20 more presses up to 160 tons, Diego Ortiz, molding manager, said during a tour.
Engel Holding GmbH supplied most of the machines. Engel has its North American headquarters in York, Pa., and a regional sales and service center in Corona, Calif.
Initially in Tijuana, Fisher & Paykel installed processing equipment in a 20,000-square-foot clean room.
That location has 25 Engels and five Toyos for injection molding liquid silicone rubber and thermoplastics and two American Kuhne-brand Ultra extruders that are operated with Unicor corrugators to make tubing.
The thermoplastics include polycarbonate, nylon, high density and low density polyethylene, ABS and polypropylene, according to Ortiz.
A second clean room, also of 20,000 square feet, has 19 Engels.
In early 2014, Fisher & Paykel began outfitting the largest clean room with power feed drops, air lines and other infrastructure improvements. The transformation was completed by December 2014 and has awaited equipment deliveries.
“That was a warehouse,” Ignacio del Rincon, human resources director, said during the Jan. 15 plant visit. “We have the molds available, and we expect to be operational by the end of February.”
The 20 incoming Engel injection molding machines occupy about one-half of the third clean room's available total of 35,000 square feet, de Rincon said.
The company says it invested about NZ$4 million (US$3 million) for the latest phase of Tijuana improvements including the large clean room, offices, cafeteria and warehouse.
“The expanded clean room area will accommodate the installation of additional manufacturing equipment for products such as breathing systems and masks,” according to Fisher & Paykel's 2015 annual report. “We expect to be manufacturing approximately half of the company's consumable product volume in the Mexico facility within three years.”
The company anticipates Tijuana fulfilling higher demand for new masks and its Optiflow-brand oxygen therapy system, which integrates heated humidification and a blend of air and oxygen for delivery via a nasal cannula.
The Tijuana facility has capabilities to develop, maintain and repair molds, but it outsources tool production to several suppliers in the U.S. and New Zealand.
The sprawling New Zealand campus in East Tamaki remains the company's sole source for all aspects of product design and the manufacturing of electronics for each CPAP machine.
Fisher & Paykel has distribution channels in more than 120 countries and, in 30 countries, has direct sales teams including those at its U.S. headquarters, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Inc. in Irvine, Calif.
That location employs 86 in sales, marketing, human resource, customer service, quality, accounting, information technology, operations and legal functions
In Kentucky, the business established a 50,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in Louisville in 2012. In preparation to begin more direct respiratory-and-acute-care sales operations in the U.S., the function moved about one mile in April 2015 into 93,000 square feet. The site has 34 direct employees and temporary workers.
A start in appliances
Fisher & Paykel has an extensive history over eight decades
The firm began importing refrigerators and washing machines for the New Zealand market in the 1930s, became an appliance manufacturer under license to several companies and, in the mid-1960s, started manufacturing with in-house technology.
In the late 1960s, the firm entered the health care market using technology based in part on its innovation, manufacturing and electronic expertise. Entry into the respiratory care market occurred in 1971.
Under a corporate reorganization in late 2001, Fisher & Paykel Industries Ltd. was renamed Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp. Ltd., which now trades on security exchanges in New Zealand and Australia.
The laundry and kitchen appliances business and a finance arm came under a new entity, Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd. Appliance giant Haier Group of Qingdao, China, acquired control of the Fisher & Paykel Appliances business in 2012.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp. Ltd. reported a profit of NZ$113.2 million (US$91.6 million) on sales of NZ$672.3 million (US$544.5 million) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015. Respiratory humidifiers, single-use and reusable chambers and breathing circuits and accessories accounted for 55 percent of sales, CPAP therapy products for 43 percent and other lines for 2 percent.
The North American market accounted for 43 percent of sales, Europe for 33 percent, Asia-Pacific for 19 percent and elsewhere for 5 percent.