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The Ask:

A global medical device company enjoying increasing market share was suffering an increase in high-value inventory because of QA test release lead-times.  The average time for final test/release was 8.6 days which meant that orders were held in the warehouse awaiting release.

Results and Benefits

  • Sample testing lead-time reduced from avg. 8.6 days to 1 hour
  • Guaranteed next-day results delivery for ALL lines
  • Inventory reduced from 9 days to 1 day
  • Inventory reduction provided one-off increase to profit line
  • Backlog of samples eliminated by existing staff without utilizing overtime
  • Cost of recruitment, employment and training of new staff avoided
  • No additional equipment purchased
  • No additional laboratory space required
  • The project won an international quality innovation award
  • The method of conducting the tests was used in this organization’s laboratories around the world

Challenges:

  • Testing lead-times were long (days) and getting longer
  • The number of samples being sent for testing was increasing
  • The backlog of samples awaiting testing was growing bigger
  • Current staffing levels could not cope with the volume of tests
  • Investigation procedures were complex
  • It took a long time to obtain results from the different tests and compile the report
  • Highly educated, experienced laboratory technicians were difficult to find
  • Recruitment and training lead times were long (months)
  • There was limited laboratory workspace for additional staff and test equipment

Implication

  • Unless the company changed its ways of working it would have to recruit additional staff to be able to cope with the testing
  • If more staff was recruited, more equipment would have to be purchased
  • If more equipment was purchased more space would be needed to accommodate it
  • To provide more space, a new laboratory would have to be built

Objective

  • Plan, implement and project manage a radically different method of laboratory management to:
  • Reduce time taken to conduct tests and publish results
  • Reduce the backlog of samples awaiting testing
  • Reduce the cost of inventory
  • Implement next day delivery for key lines

The Approach:

Toolkit

  • Workflow simplification
  • Lean sampling-handling Process Re-Engineering
  • Workload balancing
  • Planning and forecasting
  • Restructured KPIs and business reporting
  • Visual Workplace Management