What are the main medical product groups your company handles?
Heilmann: BGS principally sterilizes disposable and single-use products before they are first used. In the medical realm, this primarily pertains to non-active medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices including implants, catheters, cannulas, dialyzers, and blood collection tubes. BGS also irradiates various types of modern hydrogel-based wound management systems and related items. When it comes to in vitro diagnostic equipment, we mostly sterilize blood collection systems, urine specimens, fecal collection tubes, Petri dishes, microtiter plates, and pipette tips. These products frequently are made up of multiple plastic components.
Are there products you aren’t allowed to treat with radiation?
Heilmann: Laws and standards stringently regulate sterility requirements and establish were the radiation sterilization process is applicable. The process is generally also subject to natural limits. The type of material and its properties and characteristics determine whether it is a candidate for radiation sterilization. Some materials show low radiation resistance and get damaged, become brittle, or degrade entirely. That’s why we differentiate plastics sterilization compatibility between "well-suited/good" (for example PC, COP), "reasonably suited/fair" (polyvinyl chloride, color changes possible), and "not suited/poor" (POM, brittleness failure) materials. Radiation sterilization is also not suitable for products that contain any electronic components. As part of the validation process, any newly developed product must first be assessed in terms of compatibility as a material.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to rock the global economy. How does this affect your company?
Heilmann: Our clients include several major in vitro diagnostic product manufacturers, whose single-use products are desperately needed in the fight against the pandemic. A list of large pharmaceutical companies that are rushing to find a coronavirus drug or vaccine sterilizes the majority of their medical consumables at BGS. We notice a marked increase in demand for medical consumables and equipment. We have prepared for this increased demand at an early stage and responded by increasing our production capacity. We service the market and give emergency priority to its needs.