As fee schedules shrink and suppliers seek ways to cut costs and stretch their dollars, manufacturers are trying to help out by likewise shrinking the numbers of parts that suppliers need to stock to take care of everyday orders and repairs.
There are several advantages to keeping a smaller inventory: Fewer dollars tied up in parts that sit on dealers' storage shelves, fewer trips back and forth in service vans by technicians searching for parts, fewer training hours needed to teach technicians about those parts.
Modularity the ability to swap a certain part into and out of multiple wheelchair applications can also reduce general paperwork and time spent checking and submitting price lists. So expect manufacturers to continue to look for ways to reduce the numbers of different parts that they have to design, produce and sell.
In a related trend, look for more pediatric seating systems and chairs to feature enough built-in growth to take their users from childhood right into adolescence and even young adulthood while using the same manual or power base. That's another way manufacturers are seeking to reduce the numbers of parts that dealers need to work with every day.
Mobility/Rehab Impact: Various scooter and manual/power chair components; seating system components.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Mobility Management.