Fluke Corp, a wholly owned subsidiary of Danaher Corp, is one of the leading developers, manufacturers, and distributors of test instrumentation and software. In April 2002, Fluke Corp increased its presence in the biomedical test market by acquiring Bio-Tek Instruments and DNI Nevada. The consolidated companies now operate under the universal brand name, Fluke Biomedical Corp (Carson City, Nev). 24×7 recently spoke with Eric Perron, president of Fluke Biomedical, about the issues involved with marketing the new brand name, while providing both local and international markets with biomedical test equipment.
24×7: What is the market for Fluke Biomedicals testing products?
Eric Perron: Our market can be divided three ways. Primarily, we deal with biomedical engineers, clinicians, and technicians in hospitals. We also sell to independent organizations and support medical manufacturers with equipment needed for product development and manufacturing.
24×7: How does Fluke Biomedical serve the test-equipment market?
Perron: We work very hard at listening and executing. Because of our commitment to our customers, we spend a lot of time finding out what their needs are. We do a lot of surveys and hold one-on-one meetings, and we initiate a fair amount of sales at biomed meetings. We also work with our international distributors to better understand the international market. Basically, we work hard to make sure we are listening to our customers needs. After we assess these needs, we promptly work with the companies that actually make the medical devices to ensure that everyone understands the needed technology and what kind of testing is appropriate. We are an ISO 9000:2000certified and US Food and Drug Administrationregistered medical-device manufacturer, so we have a fairly rigorous new product development process that takes the information from the customer and drives the quality and reliability of our products.
24×7: As a result of listening to market demands, what new products will Fluke Biomedical launch?
Perron: Currently, we are launching our high-frequency ventilator tester called the VP+ HF. Last fall we launched the INCU, for testing infant incubators. The product is used in place of the baby and takes measurements over minutes, hours, or days. The system measures temperatureswhich are criticalairflow, humidity, and, most important, sound. Theres been a significant amount of data showing that loud noises increase the time a baby has to spend in an incubator. With our tester, we can decide if an incubator has a loud turn-on or noisy motors or if the fans are working properly. This product spent years in the developmental stage and is the only one of its kind on the market.
24×7: How does Fluke Biomedical market its test equipment?
Perron: We get out and meet the customers. We have a marketing team with the tools needed to go out there and reach specific customer segments, such as biomedical engineers, clinicians, independent service organizations, and independent manufacturers. Fluke has good representation in the field, both in the United States and internationally. Here in the States, we have 40 to 50 experienced manufacturers representatives who have been working with useither through DNI Nevada or Bio-Tek Instrumentsfor more than 20 years. The same goes for our international market. We have very knowledgeable distributors located throughout the United States and Europe. The results are phenomenal when you have distributors that are experienced in the biomedical environment and the medical market.
24×7: Where do you see the test-equipment industry heading?
Perron: There are several things happening in the industry right now. First, there is obviously new technology in the hospitals, and, as a provider of measured test equipment, we have to be on top of that. Additionally, the medical industry is growing. Industry statistics show that the industry is growing at a rate of 7% annually. Were going to have to support that growth with new products and new innovations.
The other major change in the industry is an acute sense of cost consciousness. Lately, there has been a big drive to control medical costs. As a result, we, as the manufacturer, have to make sure that the products and services we bring to our customers increase productivity and allow them to be more effective and more efficient. Were very focused on developing new technology, while also driving productivity in the hospital.
24×7: What was the customer response to Fluke Biomedical acquiring Bio-Tek Instruments and DNI Nevada?
Perron: Our customers were excited because the biomedical products being offered carried the Fluke namea recognized name in the industry. Fluke Corp is a company that has a long and tremendous history making measurement and test equipment. The reaction Ive gotten from customers is that they are excited about the future development of a company with these kinds of combined experiences.
24×7: How does Fluke Biomedical support its equipment?
Perron: Our staff is very experienced with and knowledgeable about our products and applications. In the United States, we have a full-time staff to provide technical support to customers. Each one of our products has a dedicated product manager who knows everything about that product. In addition, of course, we do our own development, so we have our own engineering staff with which to interact.
If a customer has a service challenge, we have a service center in Carson City, Nevada where we provide calibration, repair, and service to products here in the United States.
For international support, we have authorized service centers located at our key distribution sites in all the major markets. Our international distributors are experienced in all the local regulations, requirements, and applications of our products.
24×7: What makes Fluke Biomedical stand out from its competitors?
Perron: Its a combination of listening to the customers and our ability to bring to market the things they need. We work hard to understand what the customer wants. We keep our ears open and listen not only to what customers want now, but also to determine what their needs will be in the future. These practices have resulted in a lot of new products developed by Fluke Biomedical. We bring new technology to the market and were proud of that.