Zimmer used its CPD Framework to implement transformational changes and ensure that training activities were aligned to transformational projects


Author: Adrian Furey, Zimmer Orthopedics Manufacturing Limited

The Zimmer Team in Shannon set out to develop a business excellence strategy to deliver reduced lead time and significant cost reductions while maintaining high levels of quality, health & safety and morale. An output of this strategy was the site’s QCDSM (Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety and Morale) metrics model, which measured the site’s progress. A ‘quality excellence’ culture was embedded in the facility right from the start.’ Surgeon site tours hosted by operators, regular customer feedback and saw bone training for all employees supported a quality-excellence culture.

The new Zimmer Persona product arrived in 2010 with the initial launch planned in 2012. The personalised knee system is one of the most anatomically accurate knee implants in the market. It was the first total knee replacement product to be introduced in over 10 years and the Shannon site was selected to manufacture for the initial launch.
The management team agreed key transformational projects managed through a robust value improvement program (VIP) to focus on the launch of the Persona product.
Firstly, significant improvements were made to the existing process.

Program advancements eliminated job steps, reduced cycle time and increased capacity. Continuous improvements and cost savings ensured the Shannon team secured investment to re-engineer the current manufacturing process. A transformational project team was established to review possible advancements. Led by the engineering team at Shannon with support from Zimmer Corporate, a new advanced automated manufacturing process was developed (the first Zimmer site to engage in full process re-design).

The introduction of a more intelligent technology would allow for smarter changeovers; improved cycle times, less manual input and a higher quality product. A new computerised measurement system, which collects over 200 measurement variables, would allow the engineering team to focus on capability improvements.

The new product launch surpassed all expectations with the supply plan increasing by 45% within the space of 12 months. With a new advanced process now in place, a process improvement project team was established to look into further productivity improvements, and the introduction of standard work and pull-based systems. Led by a master black-belt engineer, a number of critical tasks were executed including value stream mapping, total productive manufacturing (TPM) activities, line balancing, and kan-ban systems. The additional volume also led to an organisational re-design involving the introduction of a new shift pattern ensuring increased targets were met.

The CPD Framework played a critical role in ensuring the implementation of transformational changes. The site CPD Strategy ensured training activities were aligned to transformational projects.

Creativity and innovation were essential when re-engineering the manufacturing process and executing continuous improvement activities. Employee involvement in projects; utilising Six Sigma and TPM Tools and incorporating lessons learned into new machines and equipment were critical.

Knowledge sharing activities such as quarterly ‘lunch ‘n’ learns’ ensured all employees were engaged and key personnel had information readily available. The VIP ensured projects were delivered on time, on budget and in compliance with the quality system, leading to successful product launches and business growth. A strong Lean culture driven by an experienced management team created a ‘best in class’ visual factory. Regular meetings on the production floor provide a forum to share information on site metrics, TPM and yellow belt activities.

The site strategy around benchmark visits and collaboration with other companies ensured external ‘learning’ linkages had a significant influence on successful accomplishments. An engineering team travelled to the EMO World Machine Tool Exhibition to review advanced manufacturing processes. The Lean Six Sigma and TPM approach was driven by benchmark visits to ‘best in class’ companies.

By aligning the CPD framework to the site’s business excellence strategy, the Zimmer Shannon team have been rewarded. A recent Global Operational Excellence Audit has seen Shannon move further ahead of competing sites as a centre of excellence for knee manufacturing. Standard work activities increased OEE on equipment by 100% and throughput in Clean & Pack by 30%. There has been continued approval for technology investment in new advanced processes. Capital expenditure has trebled for the site.

A second clean-line expansion is due to be operational in November, doubling site capacity. A new range of products will join the existing knee products such as hips, stems and cups. The first Irish Zimmer sales team has been appointed and a new kitting facility established at the Shannon site. The headcount increased from 240 in 2012 to 338 today and it is planned to exceed 400 in 2015.

Adrian Furey has over 20 years working in the medical device industry in Ireland and was appointed general manager of ZOML in June 2008. Prior to this, he worked at Abbott Vascular Ireland as site operations manager. He has held engineering and operations roles at DePuy, Tyco and Medtronic. Furey graduated from the National University of Ireland in 1993 with an Honours Mechanical Engineering degree, later gaining a Diploma in Project Management and a Six Sigma Black Belt. He helped lead two Class A implementations while at Abbott and Zimmer.

CPD 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.
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  Author: Adrian Furey, Zimmer Orthopedics Manufacturing Limited The Zimmer Team in Shannon set out to develop a business excellence strategy to deliver reduced lead time and significant cost reductions while maintaining high levels of quality, health & safety and morale. An output of this strategy was the site’s QCDSM (Quality, Cost,...