Medical Device Sterilization and the Supply Chain Challenges and Solutions

By Rick Holden

For most medical device manufacturers, who utilize ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization or radiation sterilization, to sterilize large quantities of medical devices, will typically outsource this process to a companies specializing in these highly controlled environment. This often adds a lot of cost to the supply chain because often there is additional transportation, warehouse handling and post sterilization assembly that must take place so that the finished products can be distributed to customers.

Riverside has over 15 years of experience providing this specialized supply chain expertise to the medical device manufacturing industry.   By locating a warehousing operation in the same building to the sterilization outsource provider, Riverside is able to offer industry specific warehousing and transportation solutions that allows for a great amount of efficiency, reduced order cycle times, and overall supply chain value.


  • Value of warehouse efficiency – By being co-located in the same building as the sterilization supplier, there is no need to re-load trailers, ship in transit and unload trailers. These processes can often take days to complete, and create additional costs. It is all done in the same building, often in the same day of when the product is complete and available. Riverside also able to gain efficiency by cross-docking and storing products for multiple clients who utilize similar processes.
  • Value of post sterilization – Often medical devices require products such as drugs and heat sensitive products that will be damaged by the sterilization process to be added after the product is sterile. As sterilization costs can be high, sometimes there are requirements for non-sterile items to be packaged with sterile items. Some examples would be clean-up kits and patient hospital stay kits. Riverside offers post sterilization kitting and assembly solutions that can reduce the order cycle time and transportation costs by having these done on site, immediately after sterilization. This added value not only reduces costs but it increases speed to delivery.
  • Value of Transportation efficiency – Having multiple clients in the same facility also has a vast amount of transportation value. As much of the medical device world is distributed by a few, large medical distributors. Often we find many of the same destination points for many of the medical device customers. This allows for many shipments that would often be shipped small package or less-than-truckload to be transported using full truckloads, pooling and truckloads with multiple stop-offs. This not only reduces the cost per case delivered it also provides for more control of the supply chain, faster deliveries and far less loss and damage.

In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment these cost and speed to delivery advantages are strategic to Riverside’s clients, allowing them to gain and retain more market share than their competition.