In recent years Bender UK has evolved from a hospital critical power specialist to a supplier of full turnkey healthcare solutions, incorporating a broad portfolio of clinical products.
And, this month, we spoke to the Cumbrian-based company about this progression and the importance of working with third-party partners, and how together they played a vital role in supporting the NHS during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Bender UK is part of the Bender Group – a global leader in electrical safety technology.
For more than eight decades, the group has developed and supplied solutions to key industries worldwide including mining, oil and gas, renewable energy, data centres, electric vehicles, rail, and healthcare.
Our success has been achieved, not only as a result of our own efforts, but also through meticulous planning and strategic selection and management of premium-quality partnerships to create synergy
An early pioneer in healthcare power monitoring, Bender led the way in the development of hospital isolated power systems, now known as medical IT power, with a team of Bender UK experts contributing to the development of electrical standards - Health Technical Memorandum HTM 06-01.
And Bender UK has made a significant contribution to the design, development and standardisation of critical care power for NHS and private hospitals.
This includes working with trusted partners to design and install medical IT systems and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for Group 2 medical locations.
Gareth Brunton, managing director of Bender UK, explains: “We are proud to be specialists in the supply of hospital critical power systems, working with strategic partners to integrate third-party battery back-up systems alongside our technology.
“Our success has been achieved, not only as a result of our own efforts, but also through meticulous planning and strategic selection and management of premium-quality partnerships to create synergy.”
A key healthcare partner is Constant Power Services (CPS) a Riello-owned company which has worked alongside Bender UK for over 15 years.
Constant Power Services provides a large share of Bender’s hospital UPS systems, including commissioning, technical support and a guaranteed 24-hour, 365 rapid response callout and repair service.
We have formed a strong alliance – and it’s when we are faced with challenging projects, hindered by available space or the complexity of the installation; that this strength shines through
“We have established an unrivalled relationship with CPS, a partnership which has been developed over the years,” said Brunton.
“Together we supply a significant share of the UK market with medical IT power systems and offer high-quality uninterruptible power that meets the stringent demands of the healthcare sector.
“CPS are a vital extension of our business – they support us pre, during and post installation of equipment. We are very closely aligned so the end-customer barely notices that our expert sub- contractor is on site.”
He said that even during the design stages there is a seamless flow of information transfer to provide the best-solution possible.
And Bender and Constant Power Services work with the client to make informed decisions and shape solutions from the start to suit the customer’s requirements.
Commercial manager of Constant Power Services, Chris Cowley, comments: “The partnership between Bender and Constant Power Services has been a fantastic team effort with over 15 years of co-operation and support from both partners.
“During this time, we have delivered some ground-breaking projects and given outstanding support to the medical sector.
“We have formed a strong alliance – and it’s when we are faced with challenging projects, hindered by available space or the complexity of the installation; that this strength shines through.
“With the resources and technical knowledge of a UPS manufacturer and knowledge of the standards and requirements for the medical sector, we can deliver a complete solution.”
He adds: “After installation Constant Power Services continue to maintain and service the Uninterruptible Power Supplies on site, with end clients simply speaking to Bender directly, while the maintenance or service is logged with Constant Power Services.
We offer hospitals a definitive clinical package where each product individually and collaboratively among the best in market
“The back-office support has common coding and referencing to sites, therefore identifying and actioning points is straightforward.
“We are two companies, but our customers deal with one. We have so much mutual respect for each other, and our relationship is stronger than ever before.”
Where hospitals have no Riello UPS on site, Bender works closely with TSE Power to maintain a large range of other manufacturers’ UPS systems as part of its full-service offering, reducing costs of maintenance for healthcare customers.
TSE Power has worked with Bender UK for over a decade, supplying, installing and servicing UPS units in hospitals and clinics all over UK.
Its spokesman, Ian Ward, said: “Like Bender UK, we are very flexible when it comes to reacting to the client’s needs.
“It is not unusual to work late into the night, or over a weekend. And, out of all our clients, I can honestly say that Bender UK is the easiest customer to work for and has the same ethos as TSE Power.
“Full electrical installation is always completed by our own electricians and UPS engineers.”
Offering complete healthcare solutions
It was this reputation of excellence within Bender’s critical care portfolio that led to the company’s transition to provide a full-turnkey healthcare offering.
The team was frequently asked to extend its healthcare range into other areas, resulting in the formation of key partnerships enabling the company to provide complete surgical solutions, including state-of-the-art Merivaara operating tables, surgical lights, pendants, and digital imaging equipment.
Paul Owen, clinical sales manager at Bender, explains: “As the leader in critical power systems, we had access to most hospital and operating theatres in the UK, but what we lacked was the product in the centre of the room.
“We supplied behind-the-scenes products, but to be able to offer a complete solution we needed a partner whose products we could distribute.
“Having already established a reputation for exceptional customer service, we had to ensure our partners had the same quality of product and similar values to our own in order to uphold our status in the market and quality of our offering.
“This partner was surgical equipment manufacturer, Merivaara Corporation.”
The Smarter Practico is one of Bender's mobile electro-mechanical operating table which combines convenient design and maximum flexibility for general surgery
Bender UK is the sole authorised distributor of Merivaara operating lights, tables, pendants and clinical trolleys in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Its award-winning tables and trolleys are designed with the patient and surgeon in mind, boasting some impressive features such as anti-collision, inward base cut-outs, and perfect C-Arm access.
Suitable for robotic surgery and imaging, the latest Merivaara tables perform at some of the highest and lowest heights for operating tables on the market and are said to be among the most-technically-advanced in the industry.
In order for any relationship to grow, there needs to be open communication such as discussing projects on a weekly basis and supporting each other to ensure these projects become successful
Owen said: “Merivaara is not just a supplier, but a pro-active partner which we work collaboratively with – we have the perfect synergy.
“When we speak to hospitals about a new-build or a retrofit project, we can talk to them about every aspect of the operating theatre.
“We offer hospitals a definitive clinical package where each product individually and collaboratively among the best in market.”
Merivaara’s operating tables complement its award-winning Q Flow LED surgical light, which is equipped with optimal control and a range of exciting features.
The Intuitive Sterile Surgeon Control (Intueri), allows the surgeon to control the brightness and the field of light via the handle, ensuring the focus is always on the surgical area.
Also included in Bender’s clinical range is a new glass theatre control panel CP9 24”, which provides a central interface where medical staff can control theatre equipment functions and receive alerts within the operating, recovery or critical care area.
The glass touch panels provide easy integration of connected systems in a single system, which can connect to the hospital’s network.
And it provides status on critical services such as power supplies and medical gases, and intuitive control of functions including air conditioning, ultra-clean ventilation systems and lighting.
Most recently, Bender UK has incorporated Merivaara’s OpenOR Integrated Operating Theatre Systems, enabling full integration of any medical device image source.
Being vendor neutral means the OpenOR does not limit the connection of image sources from any particular manufacturer, including mobile devices brought into theatre.
The system also connects to the Hospital Information System and PACS for Patient Worklists and Data Integration.
And the intuitive technology has a user-friendly touchscreen interface which enables control of image routing, medical device control, live streaming, remote surgeon access to live and stored images, and image capture and video recording.
Owen said: “All products are of high quality, backed up with outstanding customer service.
We were the go-to company when the pandemic was in its rapidly-evolving stages and were trusted to deliver healthcare power systems of huge magnitude, in very-tight timescales
“The service team and engineers deliver a 24-hour, 365-day rapid response callout service and our warranty and maintenance contracts can be adapted to whatever the hospital needs.
“We can respond the same day, ensuring operating theatre downtime is kept to the absolute minimum.”
Speaking on behalf of Merivaara, Sam Parry, country manager for clinical equipment and an OR specialist, said: “In order for any relationship to grow, there needs to be open communication such as discussing projects on a weekly basis and supporting each other to ensure these projects become successful.
“I think what makes Bender a perfect partner for me is that it is a winning company – and the organisation wants to continue to be the best and offer the very-best equipment to their customers.
“The sales team is highly skilled, motivated and respected in the field and they have the ability to help advise hospitals on design ideas, which also makes it easier for our equipment to be specified.”
This seamless continuity between Bender and its partners has been evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was the company’s solid supply chain, with longstanding trusted and approved suppliers and partners, as well as an efficient stock policy, which enabled it to respond quickly to hospitals’ needs and meet demands.
Bender UK was earmarked early on during the pandemic outbreak as a potential supplier of critical care power for the high-profile Nightingale projects.
It also played a major role in ensuring the availability of adequate life support across the UK for critically-ill patients.
This involved specialist teams working on most of the NHS Nightingale Hospitals, offering technical advice, design support, and supplying and installing equipment.
The teams supported consultants, contractors and hospitals to help increase capacity, while engineers worked round the clock attending sites across the country for urgent repairs, callouts, maintenance, and commissioning to expand treatment areas and prevent shutdown of critical areas.
In addition, Bender carried out major power refurbishments at several existing NHS hospitals which required further capacity to cope with the increased demands.
Bender has successfully delivered 15MW of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), supporting approximately 10,000 additional bed spaces, and all in a timeframe of six weeks.
Having good-quality suppliers is the key to success for our ambitious growth plans, and it’s important that our partners share the same ethos and direction for us all to be able to succeed
Brunton concludes: “We were contacted personally to help with the urgent Nightingale projects.
“We were the go-to company when the pandemic was in its rapidly-evolving stages and were trusted to deliver healthcare power systems of huge magnitude, in very-tight timescales.
“We couldn’t have achieved this without the support of key partners.
Having good-quality suppliers is the key to success for our ambitious growth plans, and it’s important that our partners share the same ethos and direction for us all to be able to succeed.”