Last year was a very hard year with the COVID-19 epidemic, everyone saw the important role of the medical device industry. Meanwhile, the shortage of medical products caused by the epidemic has made medical industry a hot market worldwide.
It is found that sensors and its relevant products received a lot of attention since they can enhance the functions of medical devices and ensure better treatment for patients. The application of sensors in the medical industry is very extensive and crucial.
The use of sensors can greatly improve the safety, reliability and stability of medical equipment. Common fields that need sensors include respiratory equipment, anesthesia equipment, diagnostic and monitoring equipment, etc.
Figure 1: Bubble detection sensor applied to medical devices (Source from medicalsensors.com.au)
With the rapid growth of the medical device industry, medical sensor products are becoming increasingly popular, and many factory automation companies are stepping up efforts.
1. Sensor’s Importance in Medical Industry
Playing a significant role in data collection, sensors improve industry and electronic equipment, as well as the medical devices.
In the medical field, a variety of physical, chemical and biological sensors are designed and made into devices to measure and collect various physiological indicators of human body.
Medical sensors are mainly related to pressure, flow, temperature and humidity, infrared and oxygen, etc. Take the medical sensors in COVID-19 as an example, infrared sensors are used to measure the temperature on the foreheads or wrists of people. Besides, high-precision differential pressure sensors are used in the air control system of hospital offices and wards. Temperature and humidity sensors are necessary for the production, storage and transportation of vaccines and drugs.
Figure 2: Autonics Sensor ADS-SE2
Generally, the flow, pressure, humidity, temperature and other sensors are applied to medical equipment so as to monitor and control the air flow, pressure, temperature and humidity and other indicators, while supporting and ensuring the stable operation of the system.
Flow sensors are used to measure the flow of oxygen into the system to ensure adequate air supply.
Pressure sensors are used in the ventilator operation system to detect the change and vibration of the patient’s respiratory pressure.
Temperature and humidity sensors are mostly applied to measure and adjust the temperature and humidity of the air in the ventilation tube. By converting the input into electronic data, the sensors monitor, record or send out the signal of temperature change, so as to prevent the patients from inhaling air that is dry, or at extremely high and low temperature.
In addition, in the filling of packaging process, photoelectric sensors are also applied for object detection.
When there is a need for liquid or powder height detection, the ultrasonic liquid level sensor can be equipped in the relevant work situation. In order to ensure product quality and prevent counterfeiting, industrial cameras can be used to take pictures of medicine bottles, injection bottles or infusion bottles.
Sensors have been essential in the medical industry, whose future market space is deemed to be huge.
2. New Opportunity Emerging on the Huge Market
As the most popular field at present, the medical device industry has risen in the whole market. In 2020, due to the epidemic, the demand for a series of medical products such as masks, nucleic acid detection kits and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) increased rapidly.
China accounts for nearly 20% of the global medical device market. Driven by key factors such as aging population, income growth and strengthening of clinic and hospital services, this growth trend of China’s market will continue.
Figure 3: Sensor monitoring the patient
The field of medical instruments and devices provides a huge market, and the proportion of sensor applications in the field has also increased significantly, which brings considerable opportunities to sensor manufacturers.
For instance, during the epidemic, the shortage of ventilator brings the demand of flow sensors, pressure sensors, temperature and humidity sensors. For manufacturers of these sensors, they can seize the opportunity to bring their high-quality sensors to the medical market.
3. Who Will Seize the Opportunity
The medical industry market is worth expecting, but the medical equipment with high affordability involves life safety, and its performance index and quality are much more important than the cost.
When sensors monitor vital data of life signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, blood glucose, blood oxygen, etc., they must be strict and accurate. So the performance and quality of the sensors will directly affect the reliability of medical equipment.
The manufacturers whose sensor products are high-quality will seize the opportunity and be blooming.
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