Pandemic Prompts Danish Firm To Put Endoscope Factory In Ju��rez With Up To 2,000 Workers

A Danish company that leads the world in production of single-use endoscopes for medical facilities plans to open a large manufacturing plant next year in Juárez, eventually employing up to 2,000 workers.

“During the (COVID-19) pandemic, demand for endoscopes has skyrocketed. That’s why we’re building the new plant in Juárez,” said Mikkel Wagner, director of corporate communications for Ambu Inc., headquartered in the Copenhagen area.

Ambu’s Malaysia factory, where the company now makes all its single-use endoscopes, is close to capacity, Wagner said.

Pandemic-related ocean shipping problems also made Mexico, close to the company’s important U.S. market, an attractive location, he said.

The company resorted to shipping endoscopes by air, which is more expensive and more polluting than other forms of transportation, he said.

An endoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny, built-in light and camera, used by doctors and other medical personnel, to produce images of various parts inside a person’s body that are viewed on a monitor.

The Juárez factory initially will employ about 400 people and is to grow to 1,500 to 2,000 employees when the plant’s production space is expanded from 91,000 square feet to 121,000 square feet, probably in 2024, Wagner said.

A later, third expansion to 141,000 square feet also is planned, he said. 

Most of the hiring will be done in the first half of 2022. Ambu is not disclosing wage levels for the plant’s workers.

The company plans to spend about $50 million on the plant in the next several years, including a lease for at least 17 years, some construction costs, and equipment.

Intermex, a Juárez industrial real estate developer, is building the plant for Ambu in one of Intermex’s industrial parks near the Juárez airport.

Ambu officials are considering putting a distribution center near its Juárez plant in Mexico or the United States, and El Paso may be a possible location, Wagner said. It currently does its U.S. distribution from warehouses in Louisville, Kentucky.  

Ambu, in business 84 years, made a name for itself with its Ambu Bag, a hand-held manual resuscitator. It had sales of $625.4 million in its latest fiscal year ending Sept. 31.

It produced the world’s first single-use endoscope in 2009. Prior to that, only multiuse endoscopes were available. Those must be cleaned after each use, which can cause contamination problems, Wagner said.

Single-use endoscopes cost from $165 to $1,695, depending on the type, according to a report from the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Multiuse endoscopes cost up to $100,000, with additional cleaning expenses, Wagner said.

Ambu sold more than 1.5 million endoscopes to hospitals and other medical facilities in its last fiscal year. About half of those were sold in the United States, Wagner said. It's other markets are in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Ambu sells eight lines of endoscopes for four medical areas — lungs; urology; ear, nose and throat; and gastroenterology. It’s rapidly expanding its product line, and plans to add another 11 new endoscopes in 2022, Wagner said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; [email protected]@vickolenc on Twitter.

Source : https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/money/2021/10/25/pandemic-prompts-denmark-ambu-inc-to-put-endoscope-factory-juarez-mexico/6141879001/

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