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Seeking support to understand suppliers for medical tech industry

Peter Pawlicki

New member

I am new to the forum, so let me introduce myself briefly.
I have been researching the electronics industry as a sociologist since the early 2000s. My focus was always on industry organisation, internationalisation and the effects these two dynamics have on workers (both blue and white collar). I co-authored the book “From Silicon Valley to Shenzhen” and wrote my PhD dissertation on “Engineers and Work in Global Design Networks of the Semiconductor Industry”.

Now I work for Electronics Watch, an independent monitoring not-for-profit that helps public sector organisations work together, and collaborate with civil society monitors in production regions, to protect the rights of workers in their electronics supply chains.

We are engaging with the industry to cooperatively work on improvements in factories around the world.
Currently we focus solely on standard office ICT, but want to start working on medical tech as this is of huge interest for public procurement across Europe.

I started to look at digital imaging devices and hearing aides – as I think these might be the most interesting and important sectors. Unfortunately, due to the size of the industry and its lacking exposure to the public, things like teardowns or discussions on the various components used for the devices seem to be not available.

For us it is very important to understand the supply chains somewhat before we engage with the industry – so we speak with the right people and do not waste the time of the ones that are not suppliers.

I understand that some of the components are pretty straight forward like connectivity and interface chips and obviously things like the monitors attached to MRI and CT scanners. I have also have NXP and STMicro pop up a lot in my searches – which is not surprising to me. Then there are some DSPs from TI and Murata I have found. And hearing devices use Bluetooth technology, but I have not found any links to Nordic, Cypress or Silicon Labs until now (does Sonova actually desig their own chis and work with foundries to get them manufactured? Probably not TSMC then). Intel has a nice page on FPGAs used in diagnostic imaging. Sensors probably from Analog Devices, First Sensor, TI and the like. Who is providing the Microprocessors (ARM, MIPS, POWER, SPARC, x86) I can only guess. Same for mixed-signal and power management ICs.

As for PCBs I have not yet found anything.

EMS I found Benchmark, Jabil, Flex, Zollner and even Foxconn who are manufacturing an oxygen concentrator for Inogen in Czechia.

And then there are the more specialist components I know nothing about: DAQ/DCD cards, X-ray imaging components, superconductive coils, etc.

So you see with the knowledge I have on electronics industry – the knowledge somebody not trained in technical things can have about this – I understand that I am still lacking a lot to have even a semi-complete picture.

This is why I am currently searching for experts who could share their knowledge about main components of digital imaging devices and hearing aides and what suppliers to look at.

any support greatly appreciated!