As a global leader in the orthopaedics market, Biomet is passionate about innovation and developing new technology. They specialise in the design and manufacture of implants which replace hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows, biomaterials, bone cements and accessories and orthopaedic surgical instruments. Their goal is to provide designs that will address a wide range of patients’ conditions. Additionally, Biomet offers the latest in minimally-invasive surgical instruments, allowing patients to benefit from techniques designed to reduce trauma, pain, blood loss, and recovery time.
Building the relationship to implement Lean thinking
LT Consulting places high importance on developing strong relationships with our clients at all levels of the organisation. A key enabler to any Lean transformation programme is the drive and commitment of the senior management team and LT Consulting strive to develop an excellent working relationship, where we are sympathetic to their issues and ambitions.
We feel the empathy between our clients and our consultants creates the right learning environment, where we can deliver maximum effect and develop a long term partnership. Links with clients are maintained long after the initial commencement of the lean journey through periodic reviews and membership of LT’s network of Lean
The facility in South Wales deals with “loan” orders for surgical kits that are shipped to hospitals across the United Kingdom. Once the surgical kits have been used in the hospital’s operating theatre they are returned to Biomet. The surgical kits are then processed to replenish any items that have been used by the surgeons and are then ready to be “loaned” to another Hospital. The time allocated ‘from the surgical kit being shipped to the Hospital to its return’ is 5 days, but this was proving hard to achieve.
Orders from the Hospitals were being declined because the surgical kits were not always readily available. This was due to system failings and it was estimated that over £600,000 a year was being lost in declined business, additionally some smaller surgical equipment was not being tracked which caused further delays and additional costs. Even more significantly, surgical kit non-availability would mean that hospitals would have to cancel and/or re-arrange operation dates – this can have a huge impact on the patient who would have been mentally preparing for the operation.
The aims and objectives of the project are to:
- Shorten the 5 day turnaround time for kit.
- Define appropriate warehouse standards to meet customer demand.
- Stop lost revenue from business that had to be declined.
- Improve communication with customers and partners.
The impact of the initial training on the employees resulted in effective foundations being laid for the launch of the lean transformation project. This was evident by their understanding of the basic lean principles and their high level of commitment for the project.
On this basis, we started to implement LT’s unique approach to achieving sustainable results by being able to grasp the situation quickly and effectively. Our approach is to involve everyone in the study, all personnel from director level to the customer care operators. At Biomet, an overview of the process was achieved highlighting problem areas and involving everyone in the activity.
The next step is to determine each individual step of the process along with the paperwork or computer screens completed at each step – this “paper trail” details all the inputs and outputs at each step.
This is done thoroughly to ensure no part of process is overlooked. A significant key to success is paying close attention to detail to fully understand the complexities of the process. Within this mapping process, it is was vital to comprehend the interaction between all the stakeholders, such as the entire hospital team, the medical sales representatives, customer care department, process operators and logistics partners and the difficulties or frustrations they are experiencing with the current process.
Once the process is mapped out the team can decide which data to collect to quantify the problems and issues raised. The methods used to grasp the situation in this particular case study are no different to those used successfully by LT Consulting in other Biomet divisions e.g. in France (see below), but also in numerous diverse sectors and environments.
Key Problem areas identified include:
- Fluctuating logistic schedules affecting deliveries to Customers
- Surgical Kits non-availability, resulting in Customer dissatisfaction with orders not being able to be fulfilled by Biomet.
- Incomplete Surgical Kits – as a result of parts unavailability, causing customer complaints and therefore loss of revenue with the hire charge being waved.
- Tracking certain high cost surgical items at a “pack level” instead of individual item level so that exact contents of the Surgical Kits were unclear. This caused communication concerns between all parties (Hospitals, Customer Care Staff, Warehouse staff etc.). Lost surgical items could not be accounted for leading to customer service concerns as well as cost implications.
- Process breakdown resulting in excessive communication to determine the current status, wasting all stakeholders’ time and raising frustration levels, including hospitals and business partners’ staff.
- Limited space in stores resulting in Surgical Kits being stored in overflow areas not bespoke to the process.
- Duplication & waste within the Surgical Kit Loan Process to the Hospitals increasing the chance of error & process cost.
What did we achieve – current status
The next steps are to:
- Collect live data from the process in order to be able to sift and sort the various issues and hence prioritise the next activities within the project. This will include Process Key Performance Indicators such as Surgical Kits Order Refusals, Orders Delivered on-time, Used Kits returned on time etc. as well as daily issues
- Spend time with the stakeholders (Hospitals, Biomet Sales Division, Logistics Partners etc.) to fully understand the process and issues from their perspective.
- Grasp the situation for the warehouse operation that interfaces with the Customer Care Service by mapping the process, documenting the exceptions/issues affecting the members working in the warehouse, analysing material and information flow, workload variations, warehouse rules and standards etc.
When this has been accomplished with the full involvement of all members involved in the process, from warehouse operatives to company directors, a multi-discipline team will be assembled to “make the plan” for the revised/improved process. This plan will then be drawn up, trialled, reviewed and finally implemented.
This work will be the leading “pilot” activity that will act as the benchmark across the similar European Biomet loan operations.