Vitalograph – Growing with Ennis

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Vitalograph has had a base in Ennis, County Clare since 1974. What started out as a modest outfit, has grown to become the global company you see today. It has expanded its footprint, products, services, and employs a talented workforce of 430 people worldwide, 270 of whom work in Ennis and Limerick, where an office was opened in 2022.

Vitalograph produces medical devices that help clinicians detect, diagnose and manage respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis. The R&D and manufacturing facility in Ennis is responsible for Vitalograph’s world-renowned range of spirometers for respiratory function testing, a key indicator of overall good health. Also, it produces consumables like BVFs (bacterial viral filters) which provide a critical layer of safety to patients and healthcare professionals during testing.

Recently, Vitalograph unveiled its complex respiratory solutions for PFT (pulmonary function testing), aimed at the global secondary care market. In the burgeoning clinical trial side of the business, a team of data analysts are playing a key role in enabling pharmaceutical companies to develop new therapies for chronic cough.

Vitalograph employees have a wide range of skills and experience. We spoke with two of the team in Ennis to find out about their roles and what it is like working at Vitalograph.

Production Operator, Sean Chambers, from Cooraclare is responsible for producing a vital part used in the V-Core flowheads that Vitalograph makes, the Fleisch pneumotachograph.

Sean Chambers demonstrates the making of Fleisch pneumotachographs for V-Core flowheads in Ennis.

“I walked through the doors in March 1989. I did three weeks of work through a FÁS course initially. I worked in what was then called the machine shop, where we manufactured everything by hand. It was my first time in a factory. I was awed by the whole setup!”

“What I do now is I assemble all the Fleisch elements which are in 80% of the devices we produce. I was made permanent in July 1991. All in all, it’s been very good. I’ve made friends along the way. One of the main reasons I like working at Vitalograph is contentment at work. You get to know everyone: engineers, software developers, hardware, production, sales, cough analysts. We’re all feeding into building medical devices that make patients’ lives better.

At Vitalograph, people are supported and encouraged to develop their skills and experience. For many, it is not just a job, but an opportunity to grow in a direction that really excites and motivates them.

One of Vitalograph’s engineering managers, Enda Kelly, from Kilshanny said: “I came in as a Mechanical / Design Engineer. I became Project Manager, then Principal Engineer amongst various other roles over the years. I never joined Vitalograph to get to a certain level; all I wanted to do was design and develop new products that are commercially successful. When I started in 2002, we hadn’t brought out new products for a number of years, but then we invested heavily in R&D and so a lot of new products have come along as a result. A few years ago, we started to develop our VitaloPFT Series, which is very exciting and very different to what we would have done in the past. It really allows us to get our teeth into something very new.”

For engineering graduates, Enda shared some career advice: “Departments in Vitalograph are getting bigger now so there are opportunities for a wide range of disciplines. Try and get in with smaller MedTech companies like Vitalograph where you’ll get experience and exposure to different sides of engineering. We design everything in-house from initial concept to final product. Industrial design, mechanical, electronic, firmware, software and post engineers – it’s all done here, with the help of our 3D / CAD packages and prototyping facilities. With bigger companies you tend to be doing one job, so you might not have as much creative freedom to problem solve.”