DePuy Synthes’ worldwide engineering is now managed from its Cork plant and the site has achieved a 50% increase in productivity and in manufacturing volume


Author: Robert Hobbs, engineering projects portfolio team leader , DePuy Synthes

Becoming a CPD finalist is part of an ongoing journey that began in 2010, when the medical devices industry was facing unprecedented change. The world was in recession and health budgets were challenged. Despite this, there was a rising demand for orthopaedic surgeries with market trends showing increased volumes but declining revenues.

To remain competitive and become architects of our own destiny, the Cork leadership team at DePuy Synthes developed a strategy to become a global leader in engineering. Inspired by the success of the Innovation Centre, which had been established in 2008 as a location for advanced product and process development, we identified four challenges:

  • Develop global reach,
  • Move the focus from manufacturing to development,
  • Adopt automation and
  • Increase our ability to manufacture multiple product lines.

To achieve success in all four, we needed to develop a talent pool of highly qualified engineers. And so, it made perfect sense to put CPD at the heart of our strategy.

We developed an engineering excellence strategy with supporting, multifaceted programmes, aligned to the Engineers Ireland CPD framework. Our approach was holistic. We integrated the plan with both our ‘Credo’, the moral compass that guides our company, and our leadership imperatives. As the plan impacted the entire site, we involved multiple functions to ensure buy-in. The key strategies and tactics include:

1. Redefine engineering
• We created four, dedicated engineering functions to drive innovation, implement complex projects and ensure excellence in day-to-day engineering activities – namely, Operations Technology Development, New Product Development, Manufacturing Engineering and Process Engineering.

2. Invest in talent development
• To ensure effective governance, a CPD Committee was established.
• We developed an online talent tool to drive awareness and accountability.
• Working with UCC, we created an onsite Diploma in Management and Team Development as well as extending our educational assistance programme.
• To ensure diversity, we invested in executive coaching for female engineers and secured international assignments for key talent.

3. Promote the site as a centre of engineering excellence
• To reach internal stakeholders, we developed a proactive communications strategy, using new global channels.
• Externally, we promoted engineering through biomedical engineering scholarships and school mentoring programmes.

Having a pool of highly qualified engineers in Cork provided a strong rationale for the establishment of a Global Operations Technology Centre, which in turn led to the introduction of cutting-edge technologies in automation, materials, packaging and energy. Importantly, these new capabilities allowed the site to successfully pitch for hip and shoulder product manufacturing.

Worldwide engineering is now managed out of Cork and the site has achieved transformational CPD across all seven criteria. We also delivered a significant increase in engineering roles, 50% increase in productivity and 50% growth in manufacturing volume, driven predominately by new product introductions. In addition, there was 100% increase in value improvement projects delivered, 150% increase in annual capital investment and 430% increase in site manufacturing and support floorspace.

The results show that CPD is a powerful enabler, supporting our people and our organisation to maximise their potential in a rapidly changing environment. Importantly, along the way, we built commitment, collective thinking and team spirit, which helped the site secure the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence earlier this year. Based on the Cork experience, a CPD committee is now in place at all nine of our sites worldwide with the Engineers Ireland framework adopted as the global benchmark.

Employee reactions include:

  • “DePuy Synthes empowers us to take charge of our own development. My CPD experience ranges from Six Sigma Black Belt training to becoming a Chartered Engineer.” Sorcha Moylan – senior quality engineer
  • “I am pursuing a post-graduate diploma through Engineers Ireland. This has broadened my portfolio of skills and given me new competencies in finance and negotiation.” Richard Scanlon – manufacturing engineer in new product development department
  • “CPD opportunities – both formal and on-the-job – have allowed me to develop into a more strategic leadership role.” Claire O’Brien PhD – metallurgy and materials team lead

From Ballinora, Cork, Robert Hobbs is engineering projects portfolio team leader and a member of the company’s CPD Committee. Following an engineering degree at Cork Institute of Technology, he joined DePuy Synthes in November 2007 as manufacturing engineer. In September 2013, he was promoted to team leader for manufacturing engineering projects. Hobbs has completed a Project Management Diploma from the IPMA as part of the DePuy Synthes CPD programme.

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. O'RiordanNewsawards,CPD,Engineers Ireland
  Author: Robert Hobbs, engineering projects portfolio team leader , DePuy Synthes Becoming a CPD finalist is part of an ongoing journey that began in 2010, when the medical devices industry was facing unprecedented change. The world was in recession and health budgets were challenged. Despite this, there was a rising...