Case Study: Combatting supply chain disruptions to meet wartime demand for tourniquets

July 28, 2022
TacMed’s tourniquet handle required high-quality machining, which made it important to craft an agile inspection plan.

By Bobby Bott, EVP of manufacturing at Fast Radius

The SOFTourniquet

When Russia attacked Ukraine, the global need for tourniquets surged. TacMed, a medical-equipment company, found that the existing production capacity for their SOFTourniquet was unable to keep up.

In order to scale production rapidly and distribute critical medical equipment, TacMed partnered with Fast Radius to fulfill their CNC-machining needs. In total, TacMed has provided more than 50,000 tourniquets to the Ukrainian war effort, with plans to grow that number into the hundreds of thousands in summer 2022 if needed, they note.

Prior to their partnership with Fast Radius, TacMed struggled to keep up with demand, specifically for CNC machined aluminum tourniquet handles—also known as windlasses—that are critical to the tourniquet’s function. Fast Radius adapted manufacturing workflows to meet TacMed’s urgent requirements, developing specialized inspection plans and accelerating production to meet TacMed’s needs. This way, Fast Radius delivered 100,000 parts to TacMed in just 30 days, meeting their desired timeline while reducing costs and giving them the support necessary to put their SOF Tourniquets into the hands of those in need.

“When the war in Ukraine started, we weren’t going to let supply chain issues get in our way,” said Katie Hembree, director of operations at TacMed. “Having Fast Radius as a communicative, transparent manufacturing partner has helped us move quickly to jumpstart production and deliver lifesaving supplies to those on the front lines who need them most.”

There were four key elements to the manufacturing partnership that supported TacMed’s production schedule and supply chain.

The first was a rapid ramp to production. An accelerated manufacturing schedule was critical for TacMed, as their previous suppliers had proven unable to keep up with necessary production timelines. Fast Radius adjusted manufacturing processes, provided early part and post-processing samples, and delivered the first shipment within 30 days.

Second was their close supplier relationships. Fast Radius provides both internal manufacturing capacity through their domestic factories and worldwide manufacturing services through a broad supplier network. This wide selection of manufacturers allows customers access to preferred pricing and fast lead times. Plus, Fast Radius’ established supplier relationship allowed for negotiation of a more competitive price for TacMed’s parts.

Third was their supply chain expertise. Supply chain issues have become all too common over the past few years, and with global supply chains in disarray, dedicated logistics support is critical. Fast Radius’ internal supply chain team was critical in delivering on TacMed’s requirements. They vetted suppliers, ensured parts were shipped on time, and led the import process to deliver the parts TacMed needed, when they needed them.

Finally, TacMed’s tourniquet handle required high-quality machining, which made it important to craft an agile inspection plan to meet their tight timeline. A mixture of 2-axis lathe and 4-axis milling was needed to manufacture TacMed’s tourniquet handle. Plus, the design included tight tolerances that required precision machining. Fast Radius customized the first article inspection process, starting with electronic delivery, to ensure quality while fulfilling TacMed’s needs.

Together, TacMed and Fast Radius have navigated today’s supply chain constraints, scaled production to meet urgent demand, and produced parts with rigorous design specifications that make an impact in the hands of soldiers and first responders.