GE Healthcare – transforming business for 30m units by 2017
15 September 2014
Author: Feargal Abernethy, engineering manager, GE Healthcare Cork
GE Healthcare Cork is a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant manufacturing Contrast Media products Omnipaque, Visipaque (both X-ray) and Omniscan (MRI). These are parenteral injectables in units of 10ml to 500ml across glass and plastic bottles. The site is licensed by the Irish Health Products Regulatory Authority, approved by the US Food & Drug Administration to export to the USA and approved for distribution to 70 markets worldwide.
Additionally, the site is one of very few parenteral facilities in Ireland to be approved for parametric release – i.e. approved to release terminally sterilised products to the market based on system controls. The Cork site is a strategically important link in GE Healthcare’s contrast media global supply chain.
This contrast media supply chain is facing unprecedented costumer demand for its products and to help meet this demand the Cork site was challenged in early 2013 by GE Corporate to grow its current manufacturing capacity of 20 million units to 30 million units by 2017 while maintaining year-on-year productivity improvements, a greater focus on customer satisfaction and maintaining its commitment to product quality. This equates to a staggering increase of 50% output capacity in four years, while improving all aspects of the company’s processes.
An innovative and engaged workforce was key to success and, having only recently being CPD re-accredited, the Cork site was now ready to use this learning and structured approach to discover and utilise the potential of its people. Staff are cross trained in various tasks, on the job training opportunities, in-house specialised training, external training courses and further educational enhancement across a range of operational and engineering activities increase employee engagement.
In early 2013, the company launched a Business Transformation Programme with the purpose of enabling a focus on its strategic growth while maintaining and developing core business. The programme involved significant re-structuring and a new site-governance model was developed to allow four senior people step out of their regular positions to coordinate the programme without adding any extra staff headcount.
The foundation of the program is its seven strategic workstreams of ‘Capacity Development’, ‘Delighting Our Customers’, ‘Increasing Productivity’, ‘Delivery to Standards’, ‘Open Communication’s and the programme’s foundation stone of ‘Developing our People’. The programme is designed to co-ordinate all of the site’s innovative ideas and projects, and categorise and prioritise them under the governance of each workstream to ensure that the annual goals and objectives of each workstream is realised.
This, in turn, enables the site’s overall strategic imperatives to be realised. Each workstream has appointed a member of the sites senior leadership team as its sponsor and a site manager as its champion. Each sponsor and champion play key roles as mentor and coach to their respective project teams tasked with the successful delivery of strategic projects.
The ‘Developing our People’ workstream sets out a clear vision of “developing our people’s capabilities, by providing opportunities, tools and training to empower our people to build our strengths and skills in order to support a sustainable culture of flexibility and accountability across the site that will ensure the future success of our business” The programme is just one year into its four-year cycle and currently reaping the benefits, with record output volumes achieved in the first half of 2014.
The structured approach of our CPD programme has enabled the Business Transformation Programme to profit from the innovative goldmine that exists in our workforce, harvest it and co-ordinate it to drive the company to realise its vision of 30 million unit capacity by 2017.
Feargal Abernethy is a mechanical engineering graduate from UCD with a Masters in Material Science and Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. He worked in the electronics industry for seven years in various process engineering and project management roles. Working with GE Healthcare for the last 14 years through a variety of engineering roles, he is currently the engineering manager with responsibility for maintenance, process, facilities/utilities, reliability, sterility assurance, and capital projects departments.
CPD Accredited Employer of the Year Award 2014
The 2014 search for the CPD-accredited employer that uses formal learning and development to best effect is coming to a close. The aim is to recognise and reward engineering-led organisations which demonstrate best practices in the use of continuing professional development (CPD) to adapt to steps-changes in their operating environments.
The CPD Employer of the Year Awards is the premium award for employers of professional engineers and technicians. Now in its eleventh year, the Awards aim to recognise successful accomplishment of an organisation’s strategic vision through the use of suitable CPD initiatives. This year’s finalists presented their entries to an audience of CPD-accredited employer organisations on Wednesday, 1 October, in Clyde Road. Winners will be announced at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards in the Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge, on Friday, 7 November 2014.
In announcing these awards, Engineers Ireland was saluting organisations that have pioneered new approaches, new processes and new practices. These achievements are of national standing, of sectoral significance and they have sustained and protected thousands of jobs, if you take the totality of what our finalists have achieved.
A stellar selection of entries has been whittled down to just five – the very best of the best. The 2014 finalists comprise:
- RPS Group Ltd;
- GE Healthcare Ireland;
- DePuy Synthes Cork;
- Roughan and O’Donovan Consulting Engineers; and
- Zimmer Orthopedics Manufacturing Limited.