Innovative engineering ensures that Cochlear’s implant recipients have access to ongoing technological advances for life. Our operations strategy is to ensure we use best practice production methods and have the capacity to meet the growing demand for our products. Our ongoing commitment to strengthen our internal capability is fundamental to sustainable growth.
Research and development
Cochlear’s research and development activities set the benchmark in the development of implantable solutions for the hearing impaired. Significant investment, coupled with scientific discipline and global reach, ensures Cochlear stays at the forefront of technological innovation in the implantable hearing solutions field.
Cochlear is currently involved in over 79 collaborative research programs involving 131 centres across 19 countries. These research and development programs span our four main areas of implantable hearing solutions as outlined on pages 2 and 3. These programs focus on continually improving hearing performance outcomes for existing implant recipients and new candidates alike. Basic scientific research is also being conducted, examining novel mechanisms to improve all aspects of implantable hearing solutions.
In 2008, Cochlear continued to grow and strengthen its internal research and development capability. An investment of $80.0 million constituting 13.3% of revenue was made. Cochlear now has approximately 250 direct research and development employees globally.
The on-site manufacture of our implantable hearing systems is a core competency and a source of sustainable competitive advantage to Cochlear. Products are manufactured at three locations, two in Australia and one in Sweden, with 836 people employed in manufacturing and quality assurance globally.
Cochlear’s operations strategy is to ensure we employ best practice production capabilities and capacity to meet the growing demand for our products.
Our three year operations improvement program was successfully concluded in 2008 with the integration of “Lean Manufacturing” principles and a new Oracle ERP system implemented throughout manufacturing. The integration of the Brisbane manufacturing business, acquired in January 2007, was also completed in 2008.
This improvement program has resulted in improved capacity, flexibility and responsiveness to demand.
The next stage of operational improvement will involve introducing new manufacturing technologies to further streamline our manufacturing processes.
Highest quality commitment
Cochlear is committed to the highest level of quality and has an integrated global quality management system in place to assure the highest quality for our products and services. This system complies with the applicable regulatory requirements around the world. The regulations are enforced and confirmed by inspections and audits by independent authorities.
Cochlear operates in a highly regulated environment with new regulatory requirements continually coming into force. Cochlear actively participates and supports the Global Harmonization Task Force, whose aim is convergence in regulatory practices related to ensuring safety, effectiveness and quality of medical devices. This is achieved through promotion of technological innovation, facilitating international trade and the exchange of information.
Our patent acquisition creation and maintenance policies aim to maximise the strategic business value of our overall patent portfolio. Cochlear continues to generate key intellectual property in its fields. We currently hold approximately 800 patents and patent applications worldwide.